1. Brian Wilson claiming at various times that the SMiLE tapes had been burned/destroyed – Think about this one. You’ve built up this massive legend around this incredible recording you’ve supposedly recorded. You’ve had a hit from those sessions. Everybody’s asking you about it incessantly. You’re worried it’s not as brilliant as you thought it was and that self-doubt is claustrophobic. You’re also consuming a large amount of drugs, coping with the abuse rained down on you in your past (and then present), and your grasp on reality is starting to slip. And one more pinhead comes running up to you asking about the masterpiece that’s been cracking your head like a soft-boiled eggshell. What do you do?
You tell them, that train has past. That ship has sailed. It’s gone, burned up, kaput, I don’t know where the master tapes are and they’re probably off to the great unknown. You tell them anything to get them off your back. The difficulty in this approach is two-fold. The world never truly believed Wilson so the nagging never really subsided. Also, knowing the Beach Boys’ mastermind’s mental state, especially during the ’70s and ’80s, was fractured and chaotic, did Wilson really know what happened to the tapes? Could he have assumed they were lost and gone, but they weren’t? In which case, this would not have been as much the lie he told the public, but the lie he told himself, with lends the whole thing another layer of tragedy.
But now we not only have Wilson’s solo remembrance of SMiLE, but the official release of the actual album as well which came out only a couple years ago. Some would be grateful for that and would leave it alone. Others would want to know if Wilson engaged in a specific deception during those contentious years, considering his estrangement from key members of the group (specifically Mike Love) to whom Wilson probably did not want to give Dime One to. In the end, we probably will never fully know the details, and that might be for the best.