Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson: I’m Pleasantly Depressed

By Kelly Burch 08/31/17

Wilson spoke about his mental health and his demanding touring schedule in a new Rolling Stone interview. 

Brian Wilson

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson has had a longstanding and successful career both as a member of the iconic band and recording on his own. At 75, Wilson is still on tour and hoping to take his music to China for the first time—but the singer says that despite his success he still deals with insecurity and depression, even if the feelings have mellowed with age. 

"I don't have valleys or peaks anymore,” Wilson said in a recent Rolling Stone feature. “I don't get too high or too low. It's been a long time since I've had serious depression, or elation. Mostly I'm just pleasantly depressed.”

As he spoke with the Rolling Stone reporter over the course of two days, Wilson said that he still feels overwhelmed at times, both by the demands of his schedule and by his mental state. 

"I got through a pretty rough night. I had a hell of a time," he said on the second day. "I was scared of dying and going through all kinds of shit, and a song got me through it. You know Danny Hutton's [Three Dog Night] song 'Black & White'? If you ever get in a pinch, boot up 'Black & White' on your cellphone. You'll feel better right away.”

Wilson says that he uses music regularly to deal with his depression. "It's like, Elton John had that song 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight,' and that's exactly what happened to me. Someone saved my life,” he said. “I thought I was dying. But nothing was going on, I just got into a mental thing. But I got through it!”

Despite his long performance career, Wilson said that he still gets jitters before going on stage. He said that he meditates and prays before his performances in order to deal with the “total mindfuck" of doing a show. "I feel things out, catch vibrations from my band and the crew," he said. "I get real nervous, then I tell myself, 'Not nervous, Wilson! Confident!’”

His nerves come down to wondering if he is good enough, he explained, and whether his music is changing lives. 

“I wonder if people really like me or not—if they like me as a performer. I don't know who the hell likes me and who doesn't. I want to believe my music helps people on a spiritual level, helps them with their troubles, eases their minds, makes them feel love. But in the end, how can I know?" 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.