Public transport here is, well, it’s not stunning. It took me two hours to get from Hollywood to Venice Beach. As the crow flies, it’s 12 miles. Two hours. But it was worth it. I walked along the boardwalk, and after 10 minutes or so, decided that I should dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life. And, it was wet. But something else happened. I got a lump in my throat. This isn’t the first time this has happened on my trip, as I’ve mentioned before. This time, stood there with my feet and rolled-up jeans getting wet, looking around at the pretty girls, and the surfers waiting for their waves, it hit me. Hard. This is it. This is where all that music that I’ve loved for so long was born. This is what The Beach Boys were singing about.
Their music has been so important for so long. There is no better music out there. And there I was. “Surfer Girl” in my head. Lump in my throat.
I walked along the beach for an hour or so. It’s nice there. Then I went to Marina del Rey. As the name suggests, it’s a marina. Lots of expensive boats. I headed for Basin C-1100. Just a regular Tarmac pavement alongside the jetties. Now and again, I’d see a rich person on one of the boat or a Hispanic person cleaning a boat. The numbers got closer to 1100, and before too long I was stood there, where on 28 December 1983, Dennis Wilson drowned. (Here’s a news report on YouTube.) Maybe it was because I was still a bit, err, fragile in the head from being where I was, but the lump in my throat came back, and, well, my eyes welled up a little bit too. Perhaps it’s because I’ve wanted to visit this place for many many years now, and I was finally there. It’s nothing much to look at. It’s no different to all the other jetties around there. But it is different. One of the Beach Boys, one of the good Beach Boys, the only one who surfed; he died there. There’s no plaque. There’s a bench nearby, though, so I sat down for a little while, had a smoke, and left.
Dennis was my favourite Beach Boy. No matter how great Brian is, Dennis was the best. He looked the best, he had a superb beard, and he wrote some beautiful music. Back at the hotel, I put together a mix, if you’re interested. It’s got nine songs on it. Some Beach Boys songs that he wrote, and some solo stuff. As with other mixes, the
Dennis Wilson mix will be online for a week.
Tracklisting: Brian talks about Dennis (Hawthorn, CA)/ Lady – Dennis Wilson and Rumbo (single)/ Be With Me – The Beach Boys (20/20)/ Barbara – The Beach Boys (Endless Summer Soundtrack)/ Moonshine – Dennis Wilson (Pacific Ocean Blue)/ Be Still – The Beach Boys (Friends)/ Carry Me Home – Dennis Wilson (unreleased)/ All Alone – Dennis Wilson (Bambu (The Caribou Sessions))/ Cuddle Up – The Beach Boys (Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”)/ Forever – The Beach Boys (Sunflower).
Now is also a good time to recommend the re-issue of his splendid solo album Pacific Ocean Blue. If you’re in any way interested in the Beach Boys, you won’t regret buying it.
I went back to the bus stop at Venice Beach, got on the first bus and went as far as Venice and Crenshaw. I knew the name Crenshaw from some hip hop songs. When the second bus came, I found that, aside from a clearly mental woman who was ranting, I was the only white person on the bus. But, I’m from the hood (Lincolnshire, motherfucker), so no worries there. I was sat next to a middle-aged guy who reeked of booze. He turned to me and asked, “Are you a redneck?” Gulp. I put on my Prince William-est voice, “No, I’m English.”
He smiled, pointed to my neck, and said, “Cos you got a red neck!” He held out his fist for a fist-pump. We then shook hands, he introduced himself as Aaron. He was from Memphis and we talked about the music from his neck of the woods. After every artist I mentioned, he sang a snatch of a chorus out loud. The woman across the way joined in and asked me about British music I liked. The Beatles? Yes. The Stones? Yes. Elton John? Yes. George Michael? Yes. Kenny G? (Not sure that he’s English, but) No. It was a fun bus ride. And a good day.