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Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story. Brian Wilson with Todd Gold

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  615 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Wilson, the creative genius behind the Beach Boys, took the world by storm with songs capturing the laid-back southern California lifestyle. But his cheerful image belied a nightmare of drug addiction, alcoholism, obesity and mental illness.
Paperback, 398 pages
Published December 19th 1996 by Bloomsbury UK (first published October 1st 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,098)
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Paul Bryant
Sep 18, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: worshippers at the church of Brian Wilson
THE LIFE OF BRIAN IN 12 SONGS

1) At first it was all fun, sun and bikinis.

The girls on the beach
Are all within reach
If you know what to do


I suppose he doesn't just mean "grow very long arms"

2) Then it was the troubled pop genius

They say I got brains but they ain't doin me no good..I just wasn't made for these times sigh sigh heavenly harmonies oooh ooh aaaaah

3) Then the drugs kicked in

I know that you'll feel better when you write us in a letter and tell us the name of your favorite vegetable

Er
...more
Lisette Brodey
When I began reading this “autobiography” about Brian Wilson’s life, I was pretty sure that I would probably rate it with three, probably four stars. So why the one star? I’ll tell you:

This book by Brian Wilson, as told to Todd Gold, was at first, to me, quite an interesting read. While I had heard about Wilson’s struggle with mental illness and drugs, I had never known any of the details. So, it was quite eye opening to read Wilson’s account of his father, Murry Wilson’s lifetime of abuse and h
...more
Monica
Oct 05, 2008 Monica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Paul
Shelves: biography, music
What do you think? Is this really good? If there’s one book about Brian would this be it?
9/19 Nobody answered me so I got my own copy to decide for myself!

Review:
10/15/08 My answer. The vote is in. Finishing this book was like loosing a friend. I wanted to go on reading it forever. Anything I pick up now won't come close to how much I enjoyed this book.

I was a full-fledged music fan when Brian's million dollar hits graced global airwaves. Having seen “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”, I knew
...more
Carol Storm
Beautiful book, but HEROES AND VILLAINS is far more objective!

The thing that made this book sad for me was not so much that phony "Dr. Landy" is called Brian's savior and that Brian supposedly "wrote" this book under his brain-warping influence. The sad thing is that Brian really did write this and feels the need to justify a lot of his own mistakes by running down other people, aside from Dr. Landy.

Marilyn Wilson married Brian at 16 and basically gave up her whole adolescence, and young adultho
...more
Sarah
This book is a roller-coaster of a read. Brian's ups and downs over the course of his life are depressing, and at times exhausting to read due to the magnitude of the sadness he's experienced. I wouldn't say this book was enjoyable, mainly because it's just so sad and a lot of parts are cringe-worthy, but it's definitely an intriguing read. It opens up a good psychology study, dealing with the affects that abuse and lack of nurturing parents can have on a person. Brian's descent into madness has ...more
Michael Rowland
Jun 29, 2012 Michael Rowland rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gossip-mongerers
Recommended to Michael by: Nobody. I was warned to stay away.
I rate this book two stars not only for the poor writing but also the perverse and sickening feeling that crept upon me as I read it. The first half of the story is pretty standard "autobiographical" schlock. It's full of bizarre anecdotes about Wilson's childhood and then the rise to success and the burden it started to take on him. It's no secret that most autobiographies are written by outside parties and that is forgivable, if annoying. What isn't forgivable is the way this book so clearly i ...more
Kenny
If Brian Wilson actually wrote this biography (and there are plenty of people who dispute that, ascribing it to his psychologist-songwriting partner-best friend-music producer Dr. Eugene Landy), it is, without a doubt, the most honest, sad, and ultimately heartbreaking self-revelation of anyone who has ever scaled the heights of stardom and success.

If it is factually accurate, then it is the most compelling cautionary tale of excess and its costs ever written. If it is not, then why did I finish
...more
Caroline
Fascinating, and often disheartened. The abuse, addictions, and mental illness that Brian Wilson endured become somewhat fathomable, but the insult to injury is being surrounded by family and bandmates that in no way help Brian Wilson, they would rather keep riding the coattails of his genius and success. This book raises some interesting thoughts about intensive (and expensive) radical psychotherapy.

This is the kind of book I feel I could go on an on for hours about. The best epilogue is seeing
...more
Adam Bugaj
okay, this is possibly the greatest story ever told (true) and maybe one of the most pathetic (sort of) but... If you don't know already, the Beach Boys were/are the greatest rock and roll band of all time. Brian Wilson started the group with his brothers, wrote their hits with his cousin Mike, and produced all of their best records. He started smoking grass and dropping LSD before everyone save the Beatles, and in a few short years made music that bands are still trying to cop today (Foster th ...more
Colin
I really enjoyed this. Even with its redundancy, in the end it was necessary to tell a good story. In retrospect, I also enjoyed the kinda sadness it made me feel. I had a hard time putting it down. The Beach Boys were real dicks to Brian.
Rayfield
It's excruciatingly repetitive at points, not very well written, and Dr. Eugene Landy clearly holds his sway through the last quarter of the book (Wilson does not stand behind his "Own Story" in retrospect), but this autobiography is a captivating exploration of mental illness and the effects of drug abuse on the mind of a genius. Brian Wilson also offers a very candid look into important historical moments in the development of music and interesting behind-the-scenes moments with the Beach Boys ...more
Marci
Pretty interesting facts. You really have to be a Beach Boys fan to get into this book I think. Wouldn't really recommend it to anyone who isn't!
Melissa
Jul 22, 2015 Melissa is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I read this first in the 1990s, before we knew Landy was evil.

Rereading it now, knowing more of the reality, and having read pay off "Catch a Wave",the voice of this book is not Brian Wilson at ALL. No offense to the musical genius, but he doesn't use complicated multisyllabic words like those in this book. (This is part of why Van Dyke Parks' lyrics were such a deviation from the norm.) With a psychiatrist and a guy from People magazine writing your life story, I suspect that it was somewhat s
...more
Matthew Murphy
Landy...you egotisical bastard, I've read your book!

This is not Brian Wilson. This is a hodge-podge of old interviews and articles on the history of the Beach Boys (psychological abuse and all) and then a name-dropping, self-praising testimony of the man who took a musical genius from one brink of destruction to another.

Brian even testified he had little to do with this book at all and that Landy was behind the whole thing and it shows. Brian has had a rough life and this book shows it, but the
...more
Azzageddi
There's essentially two halves to this book: the first half, with deals mostly with Brian's pre-Landy life, and the second half, which is his Landy and (briefly) post-Landy life. The former is interesting and engaging reading, and hell, maybe some of it is true! Though in Wouldn't It Be Nice, I'd take everything with a sizable lick of salt. But even if it's mostly fabrication, at least it's good reading, and for that, the first half of the book deserves a much higher rating than the 3-stars I ga ...more
Eli
Jun 29, 2008 Eli rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Brian Wilson or are interested in crazy Hollywood types
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Garrett Leun
I've read a lot of books on The Beach Boys. I've watched a lot of documentaries, performances and interviews. I love the band, I love their obscure songs, I love Brian Wilson for his genius and his oddness, I love Dennis Wilson for his recklessness, I love the brief membership of Blondie Chaplin, and I love Mike Love for being a total asshole. I'd like to think I have a pretty good handling on their history and their varied personalities, some of which is certifiable fact and some of which is op ...more
Derek
While an entertaining read, the entire latter half of Wouldn't It Be Nice could have been trimmed to half its length, particularly the sections Brian Wilson devotes to exalting his then-psychiatrist, Dr. Eugene Landy. This book was written before a court order prohibited Landy from seeing Wilson, and the second half of the book feels more like a deposition where Wilson is attempting to restore Landy's character than an actual memoir.

I loved the beginning chapters describing the formation of the
...more
Bradford
This is, quite simply, one of the most astonishing books I've ever had the good fortune to read. A truly remarkable tale of a man who went to the top and then went all the way to the edge. Some of the stuff is just completely bonkers; freaking out Iggy Pop & Alice Cooper being one funny story, the meeting with Charles Manson being very worrying and the huge quantities of just about every known illegal substance there is. A fascinating insight on an amazing life.
William Armstrong
The story you rarely hear or read about from the point of view of the person who made it all happen. Brian Wilson tells his own, often heart-breaking story about the pressures of outshining his fame-hungry father and trying to persuade his own band members to musically grow with him. This book is a must for Beach Boys fans and also for anyone thinking about working with the record industry.
Lauren Stoolfire
I already knew part of this story from watching documentaries on the Beach Boys, but it was still very interesting to hear it directly from Brian Wilson (via Todd Gold).

Let's just say I'm kind of surprised he lived to tell the tale.

I would also be interested in reading from a perspective that's a bit more objective and from the present rather than 1991.

I prefered the first part of the book and I would probably have rated it higher if just grading it on that alone.
Bob Breckwoldt
A strange book. The subject of much early 1990s litigation between various members of the band, with Brian Wilson holding up his hands to say he didn't write it, or couldn't remember it, or it was someone else's memories. Still a fascinating glimpse, primarily, into the relationship between Dr Landy and his team and Brian Wilson: patient and psychologist; co-songwriters; co-book writers; manager and client; would be film producers etc. Only in America could such behaviour continue for so long. S ...more
Nic
I wanted to love this, but the entire book is drowning in misplaced anger against Wilson's family - of course your kids aren't going to support you in this latest venture - writing a confessional - look how much crap you've put them through. People generally seem to find autobiog writing cathartic, but Wilson's inability to recognise just how much he's put his family and the Beach Boys through, annoyed me no end. Even during his most drug-addled days, only he could see that Charles Manson should ...more
Carmen
A book by a living legend and genius of music, Brian Wilson. Chock full of good stories although apparently it was ghost written by Wilson's therapist at the time, Eugene Landy (the book came out in '91). The claim is debatable, I guess. In all, Wilson comes off as a very, very sensitive and gifted man obsessed with perfection and under immense pressure to keep the hits coming until he finally and inevitably lost his marbles. And you kind of can't help not liking Mike Love at conclusion although ...more
Don McNay
The only book I have ever read that was dedicated to the author's psychiatrist
Joe Emery
Eye opening story about mental illness and the decline of Brian Wilson.
Jason McKinzie
A compelling read for anyone interested in the story of an artist at odds with the world around him. I only give it three stars because the book was heavily influenced (and arguably cowritten) by Wilson's therapist at the time, Eugene Landy, and spends many unnecessary pages defending same. There have also been questions regarding how much of the book is fact-based, and how much is based on the addled recollections of a former drug addict. Regardless, if you like memoirs about overcoming adversi ...more
Glen Russell Slater
Poorly-written book in which Brian Wilson expounds his own theories about what made him mentally ill. A little bit over-simplified and silly, since mental illness cannot be easily blamed on any one thing. He seems to put much of the blame on his father. I wasn't there while he was growing up, but this seems to be a little bit over-simplified. On the plus side of the book, it does have some interesting anecdotes about the Beach Boys that I haven't seen elsewhere. But overall, I think that the boo ...more
Vicki
Pretty wild.

I know there's a problem when it comes to knowing what to believe in this book. Is it really Brian Wilson writing, or is it the influence of Dr. Landy? Whatever you take away from it all, it's really a sad story. It's interesting to hear how the music came to BW, and how his process goes. (Or went, I guess.) It's cool hearing where songs came from. And given what everybody thinks about Dr. Landy so many years after this book was written, I think the book needs to be enjoyed in that
...more
Daniel Holloway
Definitely a book of two halves both interesting and strange! Really enjoyed the first half about the early days in the Wilson's lives. The second half leaves you with an uneasy feeling that you may no longer be reading Brian's own words but that of Dr Landy. Never read a book like it before or since......all the same it's worth a read.
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Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician best known as the lead songwriter, bassist, and singer of the American pop band The Beach Boys. Wilson was also the band's main producer, composer, and arranger. The lead vocal parts for The Beach Boys recordings were primarily sung by either Wilson, his brother C
...more
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