There is a scene in Love and Mercy, the just released Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) biopic where Brian has future wife Melissa Ledbetter drive him to a dead end street in Hawthorne, California. It’s where he grew up. Only his home was razed to allow the building of a highway overpass.
That must be sad, when you can’t really go home, when the landscape has been so altered that you find it difficult to orient yourself, like you can’t find the north pole of yourself anymore. He lived at 3701 W. 119 Street. But the home he shared with his two brothers and father Murray and mother Audree is gone. They are too.
Seeing that scene reminded me of a very sad yet deeply affecting book I read, entitled The Place You Love Is Gone: Progress Hits Home. In this memoir and social commentary Melissa Holbrook Pierson writes of how progress came and changed the face of three communities she loved — Akron, Ohio; Hoboken, New Jersey; and the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. Recognizing that nostalgic longing for what is lost, Pierson says “We press our noses to the glass and wish ourselves inside the cabin’s warm embrace, even as we know there is no real going back. The loss of how we used to be — made from the materials of how we used to live — must simply be borne. We are too far gone.”
If you listen to anything written by Brian Wilson these days, you hear that loss in his voice and in his words. In “Pacific Coast Highway,” off The Beach Boys 2012 record, That’s Why God Made the Radio, he sings “Sometimes I realize/ My days are getting on/ Sometimes I realize/ It’s time to move along/ And I wanna go home.” Maybe he’s just old. Or maybe he’s giving voice to a longing we all have for a lasting, eternal home. I recommend the movie. I think I'll see it again.