Song of the Day #5,232: ‘Heroes and Villains’ – Brian Wilson

Continuing my look at the albums of 2004…

The list of 2004 albums with which I’m unfamiliar (or only passingly familiar) isn’t very long. Actually, I should say the list of albums from that group I’m actually interested in hearing isn’t very long. This year saw a lot of albums released that don’t pique my interest at all.

But I did manage to pull together a batch of ten.

The first was released in 2004 but had its origins nearly 40 years earlier, when The Beach Boys famously shelved their planned 1967 album Smile, the would-be follow-up to Pet Sounds, after recording for a year.

Brian Wilson, after years of substance abuse and mental health problems, returned to the material first as part of a live performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall, a weeklong engagement that received rave reviews. He then recorded the set for an album called Brian Wilson Presents Smile.

The album isn’t a recreation of what The Beach Boys intended to release, but it contains many of the same songs. It does find Wilson collaborating once again with lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who worked on the original, though no Beach Boys members were invited to participate (that didn’t go over well).

I enjoy the story behind this album more than the album itself. It sounds great, and Wilson is in fine voice all those years later, but the songs (and snippets of songs) don’t hook me the way, say, everything on Pet Sounds does. Apart from ‘Heroes and Villains,’ which did get a single release in the 60s, I won’t be humming any of these tunes hours later.

But for Beach Boys completists, it must have been special to finally get some version of Smile out of Wilson.

[Verse 1]
I’ve been in this town so long that back in the city
I’ve been taken for lost and gone
And unknown for a long, long time

Fell in love years ago with an innocent girl
From the Spanish and Indian home
Home of the heroes and villains

[Verse 2]
Once at night cotillion squared the fight
And she was right in the rain
Of the bullets that eventually brought her down

But she’s still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude’ll do
In a town full of heroes and villains

[Hook]
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done
Na, na, na, na, na

[Verse 3]
La, la, la, la, la, la
Stand or fall I know there shall be peace in the valley
And it’s all an affair
Of my life with the heroes and villains

(Wordless vocals)

[Bridge]
In the cantina
Margarita keeps the spirit high
There I watched her
She spun around and ’round in the warmth
Her body fanned the flame of the dance
Dance Margarita, don’t you know that I love you?
Dance

You’re under arrest

[Verse 4]
My children were raised, you know they suddenly rise
They started slow long ago
Head to toe healthy weathy and wise

[Verse 5]
I’ve been in this town so long, so long to the city
I’m fit with the stuff
To ride in the rough
And sunny down snuff, I’m alright
By the heroes and

[Hook]
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done

One thought on “Song of the Day #5,232: ‘Heroes and Villains’ – Brian Wilson

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I always enjoy hearing that Beach Boys sound.

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