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Recommended Re-Viewing: The Brian Wilson Biopic 'Love & Mercy' Told Me 'Don't Worry, Baby'

The Beach Boys leader made me feel a lot better about lockdown and my rubbish sourdough

beach boys
Esquire

Recommended Re-Viewing is a series in which we make the case for re-watching an old film or TV series which you can stream without leaving your house. It might be a plot that's so bad it's good, a scene which deserves more interrogation or a director's underrated gem.

This time, Esquire writer Tom Nicholson takes solace from his failed lockdown projects, thanks to the 2014 Brian Wilson biopic.


Like every other fool, I've attempted to make sourdough bread in the last couple of weeks. I've tended to the starter, mixing in tablespoons of rye flour each night before tucking it up, pretending its porridgey texture didn't knock me sick. It felt wholesome and meaningful.

Last weekend, I finally made a loaf with it – my first ever sourdough loaf. It wasn't brilliant. It was large, which was good, but it was extremely dense. It tasted basically fine. It wasn't as good as one made by a professional baker. Of course it wasn't. That's what they get paid the big bucks for.

im电竞官网-I spent most of an evening staring at this great lump. What to do with it? Bury it? Fly tip it in a park? Sneak it down the tip and into the rubble collection?

Then I remembered a tiny sliver of a film I'd watched a few weeks before (possibly a few nights, possibly a few months, hard to know at this stage): Love & Mercyim电竞官网-, the time-hopping biopic of Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.

im电竞官网-Specifically, it was the bit where Brian's showing his new friend Melinda around his house on the beachfront. He sits down at the piano and plays her eight bars or so of a new song. It's a lovely, hymnal, sighing thing. Where did that come from?

"That's just something that came up when I saw you," Brian says.

im电竞官网-"What are you gonna do with it?" Melinda asks.

"Nothin'. It's gone," Brian says. "That was just for you."

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im电竞官网-That scene's a lovely sketch of the inside of an extremely creative head, and the way that artistry isn't a product or a finished, perfected piece. Sometimes it leaves no trace; sometimes it evaporates as it happens.

im电竞官网-(I am fully aware that lesson is undermined by the fact that Brian returned to, developed, recorded and released his little noodle as a single in 1988. It was called 'Love & Mercy'.)

Staring at that intimidatingly solid boulder of dough, it felt like something else too. Becoming a sourdough idiot is one of the many ways I've tried to pass the time during lockdown (see also: jogging, playing guitar, growing tomatoes, sitting down more) with varying degrees of tangible success (see 'growing tomatoes').

But do you know what? That's fine. Trying to improve yourself is a nice idea, but there's no need to set yourself KPIs. It doesn't matter matter if it's any good or not. Like Brian said, . It was just for you.

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