BOOK 164: WOULDN'T IT BE NICE: MY OWN STORY: BRIAN WILSON & TODD GOLD
Wouldn't It Be Nice: My Own Story is an autobiographic memoir written by Brian Wilson with freelancer Todd Gold, published in October 1991 by HarperCollins. Its name derives from the Beach Boys' 1966 single "Wouldn't It Be Nice". Upon release, the book's credibility was challenged, and led to multiple lawsuits. The book was later disowned by Wilson.
In 2016, the book was superseded by I Am Brian Wilson, a new autobiography written with Ben Greenman.
AUTHORSHIP AND LEGITIMACY
The book's legitimacy has been challenged, and its contents has raised questions of plagiarism. Under oath, Wilson stated that he was interviewed for about "thirty-to-forty hours" and that he had only skimmed through a draft of the book before it was published. According to author Peter Ames Carlin, "the stories being related had been lifted nearly word for word from earlier biographies, only with the pronouns changed to reflect Brian's first-person perspective. In other sections the narrative read like depositions for their various court cases, while others ripped the Beach Boys for various personal and professional shortcomings."
Although it glorifies therapist Eugene Landy, he insisted that he had nothing to do with its writing. Despite this, court documents proved that Landy was a close partner in the writing and production process. In the opinion of musicologist Philip Lambert: "The book is plagued by factual misstatements, language and opinions that are implausibly Brian's, and text that defies credulity ... Nonetheless, I don't believe it's advisable to dismiss Wouldn't It Be Nice entirely." He explains that while the book may have been corrupted by motivations in self-interest and legal maneurverings, "it may still provide some nuggets of truth about Brian's day-to-day existence while under Landy's care." He concludes that the biography "can be useful ... if accessed through the proper filters. I don't accept the book's text at face value, but if it's consistent with other sources and rings true, I'm willing to consider it a qualified authority."
In several articles published by Billboard in 1991, writers including David Leaf, Timothy White, and Neal McCabe accused the book of borrowing extensively from earlier writings on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys from Jules Siegel, Paul Williams, Tom Nolan, and White. Todd Gold has asserted that "any celebrity book relies on extensive culling of magazine articles and past interviews and recycling ... [but] everything was paraphrased to the best of our ability as told through Brian's eyes." Speaking to The Washington Post, Gold also admitted that he used notes prepared by Henry Edwards during interviews for a similar, unfinished book project in 1987. In a 1995 court case, Wilson's lawyers reported evidence which showed that HarperCollins were aware that Wilson's statements in the book were either manipulated or written by Landy.