Over the past couple of weeks, I've been spending my share of time focusing on the hits of the '80s, the songs that certainly few will say they haven't had enough opportunity to hear over the years. Some of these qualify as truly great music, but it always saddens me when inarguable classics fall through the cracks completely on the pop music front. This is certainly the case with "Love and Mercy,"
a latter-day Brian Wilson stunner that must have suffered upon its 1988 release at least in part due to the Beach Boys
mastermind's long-term isolation and absence from the pop culture arena. There's certainly no reason that has anything to do with songcraft why this tune did not become as big a hit as Wilson ever wrote.
From its first line - "I was sittin' in a crummy movie with my hand on my chin" - "Love and Mercy" simultaneously recalls Wilson's '60s superstar past and projects an instantly familiar musical stamp on any listener within hearing distance. So heartbreakingly innocent that they can't help but feel naive at times, Wilson's simple lyrics mesh perfectly with an utterly unshakable melody that rivals his precise Pet Sounds work in majesty if not virtuosic intensity. Forget religion, riches or even a ripe July peach: this is your best source of pure American joy.
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino/Warner Bros