The Words and Music of Brian Wilson

by Christian Matijas-Mecca


The central figure and cofounder of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson has created memorable music and influenced generations of artists over the course of 50 years.

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Cover image for The Words and Music of Brian Wilson

March 2017


Pages 205
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts
  Popular Culture/General

A fascinating study of Brian Wilson's creative career as a composer, producer, performer, and collaborator that addresses all aspects of Brian's five-decade-long music career through his creative methods and processes.

The cofounder and central figure of one of America's most successful vocal groups, The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson is a standout artist with an astonishing volume of diverse work spanning over half a century that serves as testament to his creative output and influence on modern music. Today, Wilson stands as a survivor of life challenges stemming from substance abuse and mental illness and enjoys a revitalized career in which he continues to create new works and perform around the world to enthusiastic audiences in sold-out venues.

This unique book covers the breadth of Wilson's creative life as composer, producer, performer, and collaborator, not only as a Beach Boy, but also as a solo artist and collaborator with artists such as Jan and Dean, The Honeys, Spring, The Castells, and The Hondells. The book also surveys his less-examined work as a performer of the music of George Gershwin, of the songs from Disney films, and of children's books and movies. Because of its breadth, The Words and Music of Brian Wilson will appeal both to dedicated and casual fans alike of The Beach Boys and of Brian Wilson as well as to scholars in popular music and American studies.


  • Presents the first complete and career-spanning biography of Brian Wilson and detailed examination of his musical career
  • Considers Wilson's work with The Beach Boys and the many performers and bands with whom he collaborated as producer, songwriter, and performer in a chronological narrative instead of categorizing his work as "Beach Boys" and "Other"
  • Discusses Wilson's diverse musical activities as comprising equal parts devoted to composition, production, performance, and collaboration
  • Sorts through various conflicting narratives about Brian Wilson's career in order to provide an accurate account of his creative chronology
Author Info

Christian Matijas-Mecca is associate professor of dance and music at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. A native of Los Angeles and the South Bay, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, in harpsichord and early music performance. For more than three decades as researcher and pianist in the area of dance music studies, Matijas-Mecca has accompanied for directors and artists from a number of North America's leading dance companies. He has worked with The George Balanchine Trust; composed a commissioned score for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Existence Without Form (2006); and as half of RusCa Piano Duo, has performed the music of Stravinsky. Matijas-Mecca has collaborated with noted director and author Robert Benedetti on Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock. In 2011, he performed at the Jane Austen House and Museum in Chawton, England, on Austen's 1810 Clementi piano. His recent work includes research of Holland-Dozier-Holland's post-Motown labels, Invictus and Hot Wax Records (1968–1978). His website regarding Brian Wilson is



"This is a fine introduction to one of the most prolific and creative composers and musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students; professionals; general readers."Choice

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