“Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road” is a significant documentary of a strangely inspirational sort. As Elton John states, the former Beach Boy "doesn't deserve accolades just for his music, but also for persevering in life." Two of his Beach Boy brothers passed away a while ago. Dennis drowned in Marina del Rey, CA, in 1983. Carl succumbed to cancer in 1998. At a reflective moment in the film, Brian fondly recalls that, in the closing phase of his life, Dennis would carry around a water bottle which contained a mixture of juice, water & vodka. "This kept him drunk all day."
Brian is highly regarded as an innovative composer, particularly due to his "Pet Sounds" album which has been compared to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The interviews note that Brian Wilson's bouts with depression and self-destructive tendencies may have been mitigated by the intensive oversight of a controversial therapist who was eventually stripped of his credentials by medical authorities in California. A probable cause for said act was the use of controversial drugs, perhaps LSD, in treatment.
Bruce Springsteen, interviewed at several junctures in the doc, notes that many of Brian Wilson's much loved compositions, like "Pet Sounds," look complex, but closer scrutiny "reveals that they're simple." This discovery contributes to their stature "as works of genius."
We also see footage of the Beach Boys talking about how, as their popularity and income grew, the fissures between them and their manager father led to a rupture. Eventually, "he got so overbearing we had to fire him, " Dennis stated.
On the other side of the culture coin, Brian describes an impressive number of "A-List" visitors to the Malibu house and other homes where the brothers lived. Little Richard, The Mommas & The Poppas, as well as Sly & the Family Stone, were among the rock luminaries who stopped by to socialize. Fast forwarding to a few years ago, Brian Wilson put together a substantial ensemble of musicians for a packed Hollywood Bowl production. Director Brent Wilson noted, "Everybody on that stage loves that guy and his music. It brings back the past but lets us feel the future."
An impressively analytical Springsteen notes that a lot of people in the music business "are crazy," and many of them "are lonely." Also, once you establish yourself as an artist, you feel a need to excel. So, when Brian Wilson tapped into spiritual sources, "his music was transcendent."
“Long Promised Road” is available to rent on YouTube or Amazon Video.