I Am Brian Wilson by Brian Wilson


11 Critic Reviews

As a study in creativity, superb, though as memoir, partial and a touch reluctant. Whatever the case, essential for any Beach Boys fan.


They say there are no second acts in American lives, and third acts are almost unheard of. That's part of what makes Brian Wilson's story so astonishing.

As co-founder member of the Beach Boys in the 1960s, Wilson created some of the most groundbreaking and timeless popular music ever recorded. With intricate harmonies, symphonic structures, and wide-eyed lyrics that explored life's most transcendent joys and deepest sorrows, songs like 'In My Room', 'God Only Knows' and'Good Vibrations' forever expanded the possibilities of pop songwriting. Derailed in the 1970s by mental illness, drug use, and the shifting fortunes of the band, Wilson came back again and again over the next few decades, surviving and - finally - thriving. Now, for the first time, he weighs in on the sources of his creative inspiration and on his struggles, the exhilarating highs and the debilitating lows.

I Am Brian Wilson reveals as never before the man who fought his way back to stability and creative relevance, who became a mesmerizing live artist, who forced himself to reckon with his own complex legacy and completedSmile, the legendary unfinished Beach Boys record that had become synonymous with both his genius and its destabilization. Today Brian Wilson is older, calmer, filled with perspective and forgiveness. Whether he's talking about his childhood, his bandmates, or his own inner demons, Wilson's story, told in his own voice and in his own way, unforgettably illuminates the man behind the music, working through the turbulence and discord to achieve, at last, a new harmony.


About Brian Wilson

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Brian Wilson, best known for his work with the Beach Boys, is one of popular music’s most revered figures. The main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history and one of the most influential composers of the last century, Wilson became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2007. A father of seven, he lives with his wife in Beverly Hills, California.BrianWilson.comBen Greenman is a contributing writer to the New Yorker and a New York Times bestselling author who has written both fiction and nonfiction. He collaborated with Questlove on the hip-hop memoir Mo’ Meta Blues, and he cowrote George Clinton’s memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.
Published October 11, 2016 by Coronet. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Oct 30 2016
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for I Am Brian Wilson
All: 11 | Positive: 10 | Negative: 1


on Aug 02 2016

As a study in creativity, superb, though as memoir, partial and a touch reluctant. Whatever the case, essential for any Beach Boys fan.

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Publishers Weekly

on Nov 21 2016

Wilson’s emotional authenticity is beguiling as he takes readers deeply into his mind, voices and all, to describe his unique manifestation of musical genius.

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NY Journal of Books

Reviewed by Jonah Raskin on Nov 21 2016

If, as the author says, an album is “a kind of book,” then this book is a kind of album. Then, too, if, as Brian observes, all the songs on the early Beach Boys albums “seem like one big song,” the chapters in I Am Brian Wilson seem like one big scene that’s infused with romance, nostalgia, and a near-constant need for acceptance and recognition.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Reviewed by Terry Zobeck on Nov 30 2016

There has been a veritable avalanche of autobiographies and memoirs from aging rockers in recent years as they begin to contemplate their place in rock history. I Am Brian Wilson takes its hard-earned place in the front of these books. It is not to be missed.

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Above average
Reviewed by JOHN PAUL on Dec 13 2016

...everyone from Eric Clapton to Leonard Bernstein has sung his praises, expressing a love of and for the music that originated in his mind. For better or worse, I Am Brian Wilson is just that.

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Reviewed by Brad Auerbach on Oct 11 2016

I Am Brian Wilson is being published today, almost exactly fifty years after the release of “Good Vibrations.” It is a wonderful insight into a troubled genius; he is one of America’s greatest songwriters.

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Above average
Reviewed by CHRIS MCCALL on Oct 15 2016

Those fascinated by the Beach Boys’ mid-’60s peak are advised to read Nick Kent’s authoritative extended essay on the subject. But I Am Brian Wilson succeeds in shedding new light on Wilson’s remarkable life – and finally gives one of the great American songwriters the biography he deserves.

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Herald Scotland

Reviewed by Keith Bruce on Oct 14 2016

Given how little Wilson is given to saying...this autobiography of one of the most creative minds in...popular music is clearly worth the reading...

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Arts Fuse

Above average
Reviewed by Ken Bader on Oct 11 2016

You’ll find other moving descriptions in I Am Brian Wilson of how he has survived, if not conquered, his demons; his love for his wife, daughters, and two late brothers, Beach Boys Carl and Dennis; and how music has helped ease his pain.

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Media Mikes

Reviewed by Adam Lawton on Nov 01 2016

“I Am Brian Wilson” is an emotional roller coaster for both the story teller and the reader making this one ride that is definitely worth the price of admission.

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Above average
Reviewed by Dick Weissman on Nov 02 2016

This book is worth reading if you are a fan of the Beach Boys, or enjoy reading about how even extreme mental difficulties can be faced, and if not overcome, at least lived with.

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