This is the eighth in a series of guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. To understand what this is about, you can read this post: http://bit.ly/90Sss3
This one in particular was written by the talented David Mathias. David is the author and photographer of the book “Greene & Greene Furniture – Poems of Wood & Lightwith”, which is an examination of the houses and furniture of Charles and Henry Greene. David may also be found on Twitter @woodandlight .
Harmony is a rich and complex concept. That, of course, is part of the reason that Ana chose it as the topic for this series of blog entries. Despite those many meanings, there is one sense in which harmony has been a constant in my life for 35 years. In fact, I can’t hear the word without thinking of the same thing, every time without fail: the soaring falsetto of Brian Wilson and the lush backgrounds of his group, the Beach Boys.
I realize that this interpretation of harmony is quite literal and that the word is far more nuanced but I can’t help it. To me harmony will always mean “The Warmth of the Sun,” “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations.” and “Don’t Worry Baby.” It means Summer, sun and sand, youthful longing and coming of age, memories of times both real and imagined. In other words, harmony is the soundtrack of my life.
My wife and I danced, for the first time as husband and wife, to “God Only Knows.” Our oldest child was born with Pet Sounds playing in the delivery room. When the boys were babies and had trouble sleeping, I’d walk them around the house singing Beach Boys ballads. When they asked for a song about tractors, I gave them “Shut Down” with “tractor” substituted for “Stingray” throughout. Every night they’d say, “Sing the tractor song, Daddy.” It was years before they understood that I hadn’t written it.
Harmony has other meanings for me as well, of course. I see it in the old buildings in small towns. I taste it in favorite foods. I hear it in cowbells at night. I feel it in my wife’s arms. These things are all important parts of my life but that doesn’t change my first thought when harmony is mentioned. Because that is ingrained in my being.
I know that I’ll never meet Brian Wilson, that he’ll never know what his music has meant to me. He’ll never know that Pet Sounds helped keep me sane when I was finishing my dissertation or that even now the deceptively simple sounds on Endless Summer make me young again. And really, he doesn’t need to know all of that. If I ever had the chance to speak to him there’s only one thing I’d need to say: Thank you for the harmony.