My Regeneration: 'Heroes and Villains' and the Salvation of Brian Wilson Presents Smile

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‘Heroes and Villains’ is often identified as a key to the Smile project on which Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson and lyricist Van Dyke Parks collaborated in 1966 and 1967. That role has not been closely analyzed, however. This close reading of the song’s structure, lyrics, themes and social and cultural referents shows that it offers an index to the album. Using its frontier setting and a variety of sacred and secular myths, symbols and icons, ‘Heroes and Villains,’ like Smile as a whole, offers historically-informed visions of national decline, crisis and regeneration that are at once critical and patriotic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRock Music Studies
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Popular Music; Brian Wilson; Van Dyke Parks; ‘Heroes and Villains’; Beach Boys; Smile; 1960s

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