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(Credit: Alamy / David Gilmour)

Music

David Gilmour explains how Brian Wilson "mastered the art of songwriting"

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David Gilmour is the mastermind behind Pink Floyd classics such as ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’ — so when he speaks about songwriting, you immediately stop what you’re doing and read his wise words.

There’s a strong case that Gilmour has “mastered the art of songwriting”, considering the sheer volume of beautiful numbers he has crafted with and without Pink Floyd. However, he’s far too humble to say that himself, but Gilmour was willing to use those superlative terms when he discussed the sterling work of Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys.

When The Beach Boys were in their pomp, Gilmour was yet to join Pink Floyd but played in various groups and busked for a period around Europe. He also kept a keen eye on the prolific and high-quality work that Wilson’s band was producing across the Atlantic.

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During this period, Gilmour was still learning his trade, desperately trying to absorb as much music as he possibly could. Although on the surface, Gilmour’s brand of prog-rock doesn’t share a significant amount of ground with the uplifting sound of The Beach Boys, Wilson taught him vital lessons in regards to arranging and so much more, skills which he later interpolated into his own art.

Wilson’s website boasts a quote by the former Pink Floyd member, which reads: “Even in those very early days of the Beach Boys, songs like ‘In My Room’ and ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ were giving indications that Brian Wilson wanted to paint with a much more colourful palette than was offered by the surf music that he was so adept at.”

He continued: “His brilliance leapt from strength to strength over a very short period, and in a little over four years, he mastered the art of songwriting, record production, orchestral arrangements and every form of studio trickery to culminate with the wonderful songs on Pet Sounds.”

Furthermore, during an appearance on the BBC Radio 2 feature ‘Tracks Of My Years’, Gilmour again discussed The Beach Boys in more detail. He explained how their song ‘God Only Knows’ brings back memories from an incredibly special time in his life as a teenager who was coming of age.

Gilmour recalled: “I love The Beach Boys, my early band in Cambridge when I was a teenager did a lot of Beach Boys songs, but I didn’t want to play one of the too surfy ones. I just love the place that Brian Wilson got to as he got out of all the surfing music, and some of these things are just sublime. ‘God Only Knows’ is one of the best things he ever did”.

Judging by Gilmour’s comments, what made him fall in love with The Beach Boys was the moment they began to experiment outside the confinements of surf music. Seemingly, this is when he believes Wilson’s lyricism truly began to flourish, and he also showed dexterity in his artistry which Gilmour couldn’t help but admire.

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