Beach Boys, Phil Collins and “There’s a Ghost in My House”

Well, it’s been a bit of a week, with no time for heavily researched blog posts. When that happens I usually resort to a web-diary type affair and a few songs have come to mind. First of all, after reading a post written by Jez over at Dubious Towers last weekend, where he recommended watching the film Love & Mercy about the life of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, I did just that. In doing so I fell in love with the album “Pet Sounds” all over again. I think I knew a bit about the troubled life that Brian had post Beach Boys, but this film really highlighted the nightmare he went through in the 1980s under the supervision of highly controlling psychotherapist Dr Eugene Landy – Fortunately the love of a good woman saved him and joy of joys they are still married today, so a happy ending to a sorry tale.

ps

What was great about this film however was that we got to witness the creative genius that went into producing “Pet Sounds” back in 1966. The sounds on this album were just that, Brian’s favourite, or pet sounds, and the infamous Wrecking Crew that worked with him on that album acknowledged his genius above all others they collaborated with. Brian at this point was still aged only 24. I have featured the wonderful song God Only Knows before in this blog (link here) so here is another from that album, Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Something interesting that came out of this biopic was that contrary to popular belief, The Beach Boys didn’t actually surf!

Wouldn’t It Be Nice by The Beach Boys:

So, what else has been happening this week? – Turns out that giving up the job you were very generously slotted into post re-structuring and leaving the organisation you’ve been part of for 30 years isn’t easy. I made the terrible mistake of wanting to leave in a good way, leave in a way that caused the least disruption, but it’s making me miserable. Having discussed it with friends who have retired recently, leaving work is a kind of bereavement and there are “stages” you go through. If I’d given the standard four weeks notice, after taking annual leave I would have been gone two weeks ago and all would have been well. Instead, I have hit the wobble zone that comes about a month after resigning when you start to question the rash decision-making that led you to forego your livelihood for a life of speculative self-employment. Fortunately for those that choose to retire there are many courses you can go on to pave the way, but of course I am not retiring, so I’ll just have to wobble on for another three weeks.

Phil_Collins_-_Face_Value

Over at Rich Kamerman’s excellent blog, where in his Forty Year Friday series he reviews  the albums of 1977, the band Genesis were featured last week. This in turn made me look into the whole Phil Collins negativity issue a bit more. Personally I quite liked his albums from the 1980s but somehow down to his sheer omnipresence and success during that decade, and perhaps his not-so-great actions and opinions, he became quite unpopular. Whatever, I did mention in Rich’s comments boxes that when a good wallow is called for this is one of the songs I turn to – Somehow it seems very apt for someone who has all of a sudden decided that the paperless office is not quite so bad (there is still a lot of paper) and that having everyone you’ve ever worked with over a thirty year period in the same building is now a good thing. Oh well, I give you If Leaving Me Is Easy which was one of the singles released from Phil Collins’ 1981 album “Face Value”. The answer by the way is…. No Phil, it’s blinking not.

If Leaving Me Is Easy by Phil Collins:

The final song that comes to mind this week is There’s a Ghost in My House by R. Dean Taylor. Why would that be I hear you ask? Well, whilst at our local art-house cinema with my girlfriends last night (two of whom are the aforementioned 55-year-old retirees), we somehow managed to display the most ridiculous display of giggling fits ever to have taken place in a non-comedy venue. The film we go and see is purely down to whatever is showing on the last Thursday of the month – Some we win, some we lose but it’s easy to organise and a great excuse for a get-together.

Last night’s film was called A Ghost Story and despite expecting it to be all scary and full of the supernatural, it turned out to be (inadvertently) the best comedy we have ever witnessed. The main character was a ghost draped in a sheet and all we could think of whenever he appeared was this character from John Carpenter’s Halloween, a film we had also seen recently and again had a slight fit of the giggles.

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Michael Myers in Halloween

I am very sorry that our fellow cinema-goers had to suffer our childish guffaws but once a giggling fit starts it’s hard to stop and we all fed off each other. At one point I had to rush out of the cinema into the little foyer area for fear that holding my nose and breath for so long would induce a fainting fit. Needless to say I was joined by one of my buddies very soon after and we all threw in the towel after an hour and retired to the bar for a large glass of calming red wine. Just to be clear, this was a very “inventive and artful film about love and loss” but what can I say, even at the combined age of 220, once the giggles start, we four ladies just couldn’t control them!

And so as an homage to our embarrassment here is that song from 1967, There’s A Ghost in My House by R. Dean Taylor. This was a Holland-Dozier-Holland composition from the Motown stable that was not a hit when originally released but then became so in 1974 after finding favour on the Northern Soul circuit. That’s when I remembered it from but only really came to understand the whole Northern Soul phenomenon when I wrote a post about it a few months ago (link here).

So, “What’s it all about?” – Sometimes it’s all about control. Brian Wilson was totally in control of the recording studio in 1966 but by 1986 had lost control of his life to Dr Landy.

Sometimes, our plans go awry because we let a stupid piece of paperwork control them – Had the notice period not been unusually long I wouldn’t be having to endure the current wobble. Had I not lost control of my emotions a month ago, it wouldn’t even be an issue (although I’m sticking to my guns that it’s still the right decision).

ghost

But best of all, although everyone else around us was in control, sometimes a fit of the giggles just can’t be controlled – The rest of the audience might not have approved but it’s been the best therapy I’ve had in years and the plethora of ghost emojis on our phones today, and the visit to my friend’s back garden draped in a sheet goes to prove it!

Until next time….

Wouldn’t It Be Nice Lyrics
(Song by Brian Wilson/Michael Love/Tony Asher)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?
Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
And wouldn’t it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

You know it’s gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new?
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through

Happy times together we’ve been spending
I wish that every kiss was never ending
Wouldn’t it be nice?

Maybe if we think, and wish, and hope, and pray, it might come true
Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
We could be married
And then we’d be happy

Wouldn’t it be nice?
You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But let’s talk about it
Wouldn’t it be nice?

Postcript:

Having just delved into the background to A Ghost Story a little more, I found this quote from the film’s creator David Lowery. He had apparently wanted to make a film for quite some time featuring a man in a simple rudimentary ghost costume – “I just loved that image. I love taking something that is understood to be funny or charming or sweet or naive and instilling it with some degree of gravity“. Oh dear David, I’m afraid we just found it funny!

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

11 thoughts on “Beach Boys, Phil Collins and “There’s a Ghost in My House””

    1. I’m really not an expert on The Beach Boys as just a bit before my time but of course I knew of Pet Sounds and had their Greatest Hits album as a teenager so know all the songs. This film however was an eye-opener and would thoroughly recommend it.

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  1. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is in my top 3 fave Beach Boys songs and “Ghost In My House” is a song from my teen years that led me on to listening to more music written or produced by Holland, Dozier and Holland for The Four Tops, The Supremes, Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye. A trio who really don’t get enough recognition for the wealth of material they produced which dominated the charts in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Check out the huge list of hits they were involved in – almost every one an absolute gem making them as vital of popular music as the Beatles and Brian Wilson.

    As for Phil Collins, I think the influence (possibly damaging!) of the late, great John Martyn around the time of the release of Mr Collins’ 1st solo album probably gave him the edge needed to produce some decent music. Naw – I’m just kiddin’…

    Thanks for another fine piece and hope your post-employment blues vanish soon. Maybe more trips to the cinema are the cure. That night out with your chums sounds like an absolute hoot. I’ve always found that the ability of a comedian to make me laugh until the point I almost stop breathing is one of the greatest tonics in life.

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    1. Hi – Yes I thought you would be a big fan of Pet Sounds what with God Only Knows being your favourite song an’ all. A great film by the way and Paul Dano was excellent as the young Brian. Looked like him too which always helps. I’m a great fan of H-D-H but seem to have been a bit remiss in covering songs by them so far in this blog – So many songs, so little time!

      Still not come round to Phil then – Ironically he seems to be quite a hit with the younger music makers who have started to sample some of his ’80s stuff, from before they were born. No subliminal bias for them.

      As for the employment blues – Absolutely text book apparently. I am neither retiring or moving to a new job in the short term so the 30 day wobble has kicked in. Had I left when I should have done it would have been fine as I was all enthusiastic about my plans – I’ve dragged it out too long just to be helpful. All will be well. The giggles at the cinema the other night provided just the tonic that was needed. As for There’s a Ghost in My House, I remember it well too from my teenage years but the ’70s rather than the ’60s as I think I’m a bit younger than you. Funny that because of Northern Soul these songs had a second wind!

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  2. If I can just plug one song written by by Lamont Dozier of H-D-H. He wrote “Going Back to My Roots” which was a big hit for Odyssey in 1981, but had released his own version a few years earlier. There’s various mixes of it, but I think this extended one is best – and he’s got a pretty good voice too.

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    1. Thanks – That’s some video clip! Really liked the Odyssey version but wouldn’t have known at the time it was by LD or that he had recorded it. A much more raw and less polished version which can be a good thing.

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  3. I was just saying to Mr SDS that I think I’d like to see Love and Mercy too, sounds like a great film.
    Haha, I can completely imagine that scene in the cinema – once you start you can’t stop – bet your ribs were aching! Sounds like just the tonic you need – all those endorphins! The work situation must be strange for you right now, understandably so, but I’m sure that once your leaving date is that bit nearer you’ll just be so ready for the change. I know it must be an odd period to get through having done something very similar myself, albeit a number of years ago, but yes there was that weird mix of being incredibly excited and at the same time scared as hell. The thing about that mix, though, is that it’s very motivating, isn’t it?! I’ve no doubt it’ll all work out fine and that your wobble is, as you say, just part of the whole processing thing, and it would be more unusual if you didn’t feel it at the moment But I think you should be proud for making the decision to take control of your life in this way – go for it Alyson!

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    1. It really is good and CC agrees it seems. John Cusack was a stretch as he is really familiar already for being John Cusack so hard to think of him as ’80s Brian but still worked as a whole (Jez made that point too).

      We will have to go to the cinema in disguise next time as we were very badly behaved but once you start to giggle it’s just impossible to stop – It was actually supposed to be a really sad film but that blasted sheet just kept making us laugh.

      Yes the wobble is text book apparently but the long notice period is sapping me of my motivation – The easy option is to stay but that chapeau de bloggeur would have had to go and we can’t have that! I have actually had a conversation on Rich Kamerman’s site already today asking him to edit a badly worded comment of mine! We all do it but I did go back and tweak your comment for the thing you were bothered about. Hope that was ok – It’s just the comments boxes anyway which are just an outpouring of our thoughts and not an actual blog post but I feel your discomfort about it as I get it too.

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  4. Love and Mercy is a great film C – see it if you can.
    Phil Collins is best avoided – ending your marriage by fax is never a good thing.
    The giggles sounded cathartic.

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    1. Yes I really enjoyed Love & Mercy – I just use Jez now as the TV guide!

      Having read up a bit more about old Phil last weekend, that fax story is not quite accurate – It was some of the finer detail of the split that was communicated by fax but still doesn’t come across well. I had guessed he wasn’t very popular around these parts but perhaps not just how much.

      The giggles were indeed cathartic but will we be allowed back!? Hope so.

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