Artists have image problems; in fact the outfits an artist wears are often a reflection of deep-seated conflict that originated in childhood. This conflict is also the springboard for great art. I would like to focus some attention here on the way that Brian Wilson overcame an abusive father and used that conflict to create his masterpieces.
In the session tapes for “Help Me, Rhonda” you can hear Murray Wilson, the father of Brian, Carl, and Dennis, show up and berate his sons as they try to record the song. At one point, Brian refers to the fact that Murry caused him to become deaf in one ear! Murry also says, “I’m a genius, too.”
The work of Frank Sulloway on birth order indicates that firstborns, like Brian, who have a lot of conflict with a parent, often develop artistic sensibilities as a way to cope. This may account for the fact that Brian Wilson was a genius and, as his father admitted, could “think . . . in six-part harmony.”
Artists have a good sense about what works in their art but less assuredness about what to wear onstage. This is the result of focusing the bulk of their creative energies on perfecting their craft. And this is also why an image consultant can often contribute ideas that can be more helpful to an artist than psychotherapy. Brian, of course, suffered from schizophrenia. Modern artists can avoid some of the angst of being an artist by seeking objective feedback about their wardrobe.
(Photo: Brian Wilson, second from left)