Al Jardine And The Myth Of California
Al Jardine loves singing about what he calls “the California myth.”
“It’s not entirely a myth. There are still some elements that are certainly true, especially for a first-time observer,” said Jardine. “But to be able to come here and to drive that coast on Route 1 . . . you experience the water and the animals and the sea life, the whole thing. It’s really magical. It really is.”
Jardine, one of the founding members of the Beach Boys – but not the one who surfed, that was Dennis Wilson, the late drummer of the band – is a few months removed from the Beach Boys highly successful 50th Anniversary Tour in 2012.
It was the first time the surviving original members of the band – Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks – had toured in several years. They played 73 dates around the world and released an album of all new material, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” the first original Beach Boys album produced since “Summer in Paradise” in 1992.
In addition to the tour, Jardine’s first solo effort, <em>A Postcard from California</em>, was re-released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary tour and sold pretty well at the concert merchandise table. The CD featured contributions from Wilson and the Beach Boys, as well as from Glen Campbell, David Crosby, Neil Young, Steve Miller and Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America.
The lead single, “Don’t Fight the Sea,” is about preserving the ocean environment and the marine sanctuaries specifically of the eastern and western seashores and the Hawaiian Islands.
“These sanctuaries are pretty important, but they remain unprotected,” said Jardine in a recent interview from his California home. “These are pretty important ecological areas off the coast of California, which protect the sea lions and the environment from shipping and fishing nets and things that catch whales and porpoises as they’re going to their migrational habitats.”
The 15-song CD includes four songs that Jardine calls “the green side” of the album and speaks to the relationship between man and his environment.
In addition to “Don’t Fight the Sea,” songs such as “Tidepool Interlude” and “A California Saga” reflect Jardine’s love of the California coastline – from Pismo Beach in the south to Big Sur in the north and all points in between along Route 1 – and his concern for the ecological health of the earth.
Jardine even convinced actor Alec Baldwin to lend his considerable voice talents to “Tidepool Interlude.”
“Alec is a real pro. He does voiceovers for various things, and this one particularly caught his interest because of the value of the message,” said Jardine. “It’s what we call a ‘spoken word piece’ over a nice piece of music about the tidepool, which is an area of the coast where these little fish and creatures get caught in these tidepools. Everything is connected to everything else. That’s the whole message. And Alec is like the voice of God.”
These days, the 70-year-old Jardine has some time to sit and reflect on the historic 2012 tour and contemplate what lies ahead. He recharges his musical batteries by listening to doo wop tunes – The Cadillacs, The Cleftones, The Drifters, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.
But at this point it doesn’t look like there’s any plans for the original lineup of Beach Boys to follow up last year’s successful tour with another one in 2013.
“The tour was so much fun, and everybody enjoyed it,” said Jardine. “There’s nothing like seeing the authentic Beach Boys on stage. It’s a good feeling for the audience and for us, too.”
But it didn’t end like some would have liked it to end. Love and Johnston seem determined to tour with their version of the Beach Boys while Wilson, Jardine and Marks will hook up for some gigs, at least one of which is already confirmed, July 25, at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio.
“I’ve talked to Mike about it a couple of times and he just wanted some distance from it. He wanted to get away and not do this for a while with us,” said Jardine. “For whatever reason, he didn’t want to do it anymore, so he’s out there now doing his version of the Beach Boys. I’m sure people come and enjoy that, too. But it leaves the rest of us going, ‘Hey . . . We just got all geared up for this and we want to get out, but we’re all just sitting around on our fannies.’”
Jardine admits he’s getting tired of sitting around the past few months and that he should “get my butt down there (with Brian) and do some stuff with him because he’s got such an inventive mind.”
“He’s still so amazing,” said Jardine, sounding more like a fan than a collaborator. “Whenever he sits down at a piano, he can figure out arrangements that you wouldn’t even imagine. It’s striking what he can do. He can take an idea to the next level.
“The guy is an iconic figure in 20th century music,” said Jardine. “But we’ve got to get a little more out of him and little more out of me and a little more out of Mike, and hopefully we’ll do it again next year.”
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Mike Morsch is a freelance writer from suburban Philadelphia and author of the book, “Dancing in My Underwear: The Soundtrack of My Life.”