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Wouldn't it Be Nice: My Own Story
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Wouldn't it Be Nice: My Own Story

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  829 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
In a riveting and candid autobiography, music legend Brian Wilson reveals the truth about his meteoric rise to superstardom, his total breakdown, and his long, miraculous struggle back to the top. It is filled with shocking revelations about his abuse as a child by his violent father, the bitter infighting among the Beach Boys, the death of his brother Dennis, and the cont ...more
Hardcover, 398 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Paul Bryant
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: worshippers at the church of Brian Wilson

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

Lisette Brodey
Oct 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Carol Storm
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Monica by: Paul
Shelves: music, biography
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!

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
Michael Rowland
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, used-to-own
On Sky One’s “Brainiac” programme, they used to try to put the lie to Twisted Sister’s “Can’t Stop Rock and Roll” by a variety of methods. They’ve found that you can stop rock and roll with a shotgun, with a flamethrower, with a caravan, with a chainsaw, with lots of things.

Many years before “Brainiac” had even been conceived, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys did something similar. He discovered that you can stop rock and roll with drug addiction and mental illness.

After years of mental and physic
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it
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!
Pauline High
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent story of Brian Wilson's fight with mental health and his genius behind the Beach Boys. Very easy to read if you are a fan.
Dean Cummings
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“He’s made a lot of people happy for a long time.”

That’s what Paul Simon said at the conclusion of his thoughtful, “unplugged” rendition of Brian Wilson’s first ever composition, “Surfer Girl” at the 2001 “All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson” at Radio City Music Hall. As I watched Simon softly utter these words, standing there alone on the stage with his acoustic guitar, wearing a pair of jeans and a baseball cap, I realized he’d summed up, in one simple sentence, the enduring greatness of Brian Wi
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I grew up with the Beach Boys music, and was only peripherally aware of how dysfunctional their dynamic was. Brian Wilson gives a good account of how he dealt with things, and the extreme treatment needed for him to get healthy and functional again. A good warning against self-treatment for mental disease, at the very least.
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
Aug 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it
I had avoided this book for a long time because of its status as a "disowned" autobiography, but I felt compelled to pick it up before reading Brian Wilson's new autobiography, so that I might compare the two.

A lot of the information in this book will sound familiar to avid Beach Boys fans, as the repeated stories have become a kind of American folklore. At times, this book follows the trail of some of the more salacious Beach Boys bios, apparently in an effort to keep up with the proverbial Jo
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
Matthew Murphy
Jan 27, 2013 rated it did not like it 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
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Michael Menzies
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I've been a fan of The Beach Boys for a long time now, and since I didn't know much about their creative genius Brian Wilson, I thought the best place to start would be here. And the book is very entertaining while being at the same time sad. We feel sympathetic for Brian's mental health issues, and his father's malicious treatment of him.

The problem with the book, is that it turns into a book about Dr. Eugene Landy, the saviour who salvages Brian's life from the throws of his bed and schizophr
Apr 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Bob Breckwoldt
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
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
Glen Russell Slater
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Brian's writing style was very easy to follow. He presents his side of the Beach Boy's story. There are a lot of very messed up things that happened in his life. As a boy, he was abused emotionally and physically by as father, as was Dennis. This abuse continued even after Brian moved out of his parent's house. Murray would call him everyday demanding control over Brian's copyrights. Then evil voices in Brian's head started appearing during tours in 1964. It is just amazing that somebody so trau ...more
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
Tarn Richardson
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This is a mind trip. Whether Brian Wilson wrote this or his weird Doctor Landy did, I don't know. Certainly Landy gets a lot of praise and thanks throughout. But what a trip and what an incredible, revealing, warm, heartbreaking and joyful story this is. From genius to broken washed up freak, to 350lbs of immovable object to a master reborn. Brian Wilson is a national / nay world treasure, not only because of his music, but because of where he went in his life, and that he had the power and ...more
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
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
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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
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