Air is rare at the high end of Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. Only hip hop gangsters and metalheads get to fly that close to the sun.
But, three weeks ago something startling appeared in that air space. It wasn’t a bird or plane. No. It was the Beach Boys!
Rising like a phoenix from the wasteland of modern pop music these venerable vinyl vets debuted at Number 3 with “That’s Why God Made the Radio”. The band’s 29th studio album marked their 50th anniversary. God himself could not have been more surprised.
Good Morning America featured the ageless Boys performing the title song from Central Park. It was a tune of towering harmonies, like all their hits rolled into one, celebrating the simple joy of hearing your special song on the car radio.
It’s no secret that live TV shows recruit audiences. In this case you’d guess baby boomers. But, what I saw and felt that morning was different.
Middle America was there en mas—hair of every hue, shoulder to shoulder belting the harmonies together. Rolling Stone magazine praised the album as “a breezy nostalgia trip” and “deeply touching work.” The crowd in Central Park weighed in with its own review. Tears of joy. I know. I felt them.
The group’s last hit record was over three decades ago. Then came alienation and litigation. For the three surviving members, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Mike Love, the discord was public and painful.
Yet, on that hot June morning in Central Park, as if by magic there they were. Perhaps by some divine intervention, all was forgiven.
After the show Love quipped, “Yeah. You can let the past screw with your head for a lifetime. Or you can say, ‘All we have is right now.'”
It makes you wonder. If the Beach Boys can make peace, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us.
All it would take is a little harmony.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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