supposedly included a numinous "Our Prayer," an ethereal "Wonderful," an exhilarating "Heroes and Villains," and a sublime "Surf's Up," a song Leonard Bernstein proclaimed "beautiful even in its obscurity." But Wilson's beautiful obscurity proved too much for the Beach Boys, who denounced Smile when they returned from their first English tour in late 1966. And so Wilson began to lose faith in his vision and in himself, and Smile slipped away as Wilson slowly slid into a decade of doubt and madness.
For almost four decades, Smile was only a handful of songs released on random Beach Boys records, rumors of songs Wilson scrapped, and a legend of a lost masterpiece that could never be finished. But Wilson slowly worked his way back from madness, and in 1988 he released his first single as a solo artist, "Love and Mercy." In 1997 Wilson returned to performing with a concert version of Pet Sounds, his epochal 1966 album that had preceded "Good Vibrations." Then, in 2003, Wilson and Van Dyke Parks worked together to finish the legendary lost Smile. Wilson premiered the work in a series of concerts in Europe to laudatory reviews and ecstatic audiences. On September 28, thirty-eight years after it was conceived, Smile will be released on CD, and on Monday, October 4, Wilson will perform Smile at the Michigan Theater.