Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 212
Wed. Sept. 11, 2013
“A Time To Live In Dreams”
Dennis Wilson & The Beach Boys
This lost Dennis Wilson nugget was discovered by producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd for the 2001 Beach Boys anthology CD, Hawthorne, CA. Dennis’ brother Brian was astounded when he first heard “A Time To Live in Dreams,” telling Boyd in the Hawthorne, CA liner notes, “I was totally blown out – he snuck up on me. I didn’t expect it when he started writing songs like that. I was totally shocked.” At the time, Dennis was known as the rebel rouser. Think of the youngest Wilson as The Beach Boys Bonzo, a sixties surfer version of John Bonham or think of a tanner more Californian Keith Moon.
While Dennis’ brothers and the rest of The Beach Boys only saw the wild side of the drummer’s persona, co-songwriter and collaborator Steve Kalinich witnessed a different and more creative side of middle Wilson brother when he explained, “I knew the sensitive side was there because I thought why else would he want to go and read to the homeless and the sick kids in the hospital, and why else would he respond to this poetry if it didn’t touch some truth within him? It was out of the genre of “Be Still,” a sort of prayer to the world.”
What surprised many in the Beach Boys inner circle was how aching and honestly beautiful Dennis sounds while crooning “A Time to Live in Dreams.” The other Boys only saw the untamed rebellious guise of Dennis; it’s this more sensitive side that the drummer only shared with his closest confidants like his co-writer Kalinich. Steve talked about Dennis child like innocence that came to life in this Beach Boys outtake when he said, “Dennis definitely had a child’s sense of wonder, he’d get excited over ideas…He had such an awe and such a wonder about God in the sense that God is the creative process…He was a choir boy in that sense, and I know he was the last guy most people would call a choir boy, but it was like, this music came from the soul.”
I would imagine Dennis’ older brother Brian would’ve loved to collaborate with this more creative side of his younger brother. “Wait – I don’t remember this one. What album was this done for?” Brian, the author of Beach Boys most celebrated works Pet Sounds and Smile was quoted when he first heard Dennis’ gem of an outtake. After hearing his younger brother sing the words, “♫ In this new day/ change your heart/ forgive your brother, ♫” Brian said this about, “A Time To Live In Dreams,” “Wow, what a great song.” Brian Wilson was so right.
One of the shortest songs/outtakes in Beach Boys canon shows the brief genius of the middle Wilson brother. Dennis lyric about his brother is my favorite part. That lyric connects so much with me because it mirrors the tension between siblings in my own familia. Not many artists could compose a song that’s so direct and succinct like Dennis’ “Dreams.” If you’re a stranger to the lyrical wonder of the former Beach Boys drummer, it’s time for you to awaken from your sleepless slumber and rediscover the unbridled eloquence of Dennis Wilson’s “A Time to Live in Dreams.”