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“Can’t make up my mind…

Surfing, Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz, California

… ’cause I’m thinkin’ like Brian.“(YouTube video) – ZZ Top, “PCH

The first in a weekly series on characteristics of creativity on CNN, this one written by Todd Leopold, focuses on Brian Wilson, age 69, of The Beach Boys. A short video is included.

No, I won’t rehash the very well-written feature article.

The elusive quality of creativity can probably best be characterized through examples, as we “dance around” the concept. I have worked in several environments that largely lacked creativity and in at least one where creativity was a way of life. My current contact with very creative artists stands in utter contrast to some of those insipid environments of my past, so much so that when I hear a comment that reminds me of ancient mind-numbing interactions, I sort of cringe. :-)

Sometimes, you can recognize creativity by its absence.

The creative struggle of Brian Wilson” article explores the apparently real relationship between creativity and mental illness.

“Highly creative people are probably highly creative because of certain cognitive mechanisms that also would predispose them to symptoms of mental disorder if they didn’t have additional protective factors,” says Harvard psychology instructor Shelley Carson, author of “Your Creative Mind.”

Their childhoods often “force them to spend time in their inner world. … They can develop their own ideas about things rather than being dependent upon the ideas that are sort of forced down their throat.”

Another thought….

“Big-C creators do not necessarily think differently than the rest of us, but they are more open to new ideas, acquire some degree of domain expertise and are highly motivated to pursue an idea until they have realized its creative potential,” says psychologist and creativity expert Dean Keith Simonton.

In November, the Capitol Records label issued “The Smile Sessions,” a collection of multiple CDs, two vinyl LPs, a 60-page book, a collection of photos, and a light switch that illuminates the store pictured on the cover. I wrote about an earlier tour by Brian Wilson in August of 2008.

In the early days of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson took creative control and became the “Stalin of the studio,” according to Mike Love. Brian wrote the songs, sometimes with collaborators, picked the studios, and directed the musicians.

“You have to have what I call a ‘persistent obstinacy,’ ” says Julie Burstein, creator of the public radio show “Studio 360” and the author of “Spark: How Creativity Works,” which profiles 35 creative people and partnerships. “It’s a willingness to say, ‘I don’t care what you think. I’m making this happen.’ “

The CNN article discusses the importance of the “Smile” album, some of the characteristics of Brian Wilson’s creative genius, and Brian’s love of George Gershwin‘s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Significantly, “…putting aside years of enmity, the surviving Beach Boys recently announced they’ll be reuniting for an extensive 50th-anniversary concert tour in 2012, along with a new album.”

Life is short. Some unfinished tasks require completion.

Read the article. :-)

-Bill at

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