By Kyle | June 25, 2012
George Will has the Beach Boys as avatars of freedom, of a glorious sunshine-y Reagan/Goldwater individualism that could not be farther from today’s California, which is more or less an organized conspiracy of the careless rich and the government-dependent poor, abetted by an influential middle of government workers….Michael Anton of the Claremont Review of Books has a wonderful long-ish essay about Brian Wilson, “Smile” and the politics of the Beach Boys. Says Anton:
Yet despite their incomprehensibility, the lyrics for Smile remain fresh because of the music’s optimism and exuberant innocence. That beneficent Southern California sun shines through in every word. Though penned in the mid ’60s, there is scarcely a trace of the America-bashing then sweeping the intellectual and artistic classes. The Boys—and especially Brian—certainly succumbed to the carnal temptations of the time. But they never bought into the dystopic New Left vision of “AmeriKKKa.” In 1983, President Reagan’s buffoonish Secretary of the Interior James Watt canceled a planned Beach Boys concert in Washington, claiming that the Boys drew “the wrong element.” Both the president and the vice president publicly demurred; Watt was forced to relent. President and Mrs. Reagan warmly received the Boys at the White House. They later performed—gratis—before more than half a million fans on the National Mall. Front man Mike Love described singing on the Fourth of July in the heart of the nation’s capital as the greatest moment of his life.