It’s not every day that one of your heroes rings you up, but that really did happen to me with Brian Wilson and I still treasure the memory of it.
The story really starts on Boxing Day 2004 when the tsunami struck and amongst the many victims was Markus Sandlund of the wonderful Stockholm Strings And Horns, who helped Brian bring SMiLE to the stage so memorably earlier that year.
Having lost someone he knew in the disaster, Brian launched an incredibly generous fundraising appeal, whereby anyone who donated more than $50 (I think) would receive a phonecall from him. Generous and really brave, given what a shy guy he is.
So, for both the cause and (to be honest) the reward, I paid my money and didn’t really give it that much thought until one night when my girlfriend and I were having the tea, watching the television like normal.
The phone rang and we let it go to answerphone, not expecting it to be anything important. Luckily, at that point, we had an answerphone that played the message as it was being recorded.
“Hi James, it’s Brian Wilson from California…” it started as I did everything I could to get my food (sat on a little folding table in front of the sofa – we’re not posh) out of my way without throwing it on the floor.
Luckily I managed to get to the phone in time to answer it and interrupt Brian’s message before he hung up. The conversation passed in a blur as I no doubt fawned over him and stressed how very important he and his music are to me.
Somehow I ended up upstairs, I doubt my feet touched the steps on the way up. I can’t remember much of it now, but I remember he was just lovely, as you’d hope and expect.
After it finished, I went back downstairs to find my girlfriend looking bewildered at me. Who was that? It was Brian Wilson. No, REALLY.
As the years have passed, we’ve stopped using that phone, but I never deleted the start of the message that he recorded before I picked up. I’ve always meant to record it off there somehow and I guess with my iPhone it’s easier than it ever would have been.
I think I might go down and get it to make sure I’ve got those words saved forever.
“Hi James, it’s Brian Wilson from California…”
In memory of Markus Sandlund and all who died in the Boxing Day tsunami.