Love and Mercy

Album: Brian Wilson (1988)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • During a discussion and performance at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles in January 2009, Wilson offered a detail about his songwriting at the time. He admitted: "I had just drunk a half a bottle of Champagne, and I said, 'Hey, I feel like writing a song,' So I wrote 'Love and Mercy half-drunk."
  • This song features Brian Wilson on many of the backing vocals as well as lead vocals.
  • As this was the lead single from Wilson's first ever solo album, this song garnered a lot of publicity at the time. However, it failed to chart in either the UK or US.
  • Brian Wilson recalled the story of the song, which he wrote the help of his therapist Dr. Eugene Landy: "I was in my piano room, and I was playing 'What The World Needs Now, Is Love, Sweet Love' and I just went into my own song. I worked very hard to get out of me what was in my heart on that one."

    "I called up Dr. Landy and we worded on the lyrics together. I was going for a spiritual, semi-Beach Boy kind of background sound, but more of a Brian Wilson lead vocal thing. 'Love And Mercy' is a real positive vibe; it really is."

Comments: 1

  • Jim from Ocean Grove, NjBrian Wilson is a musical genius. He wrote all the great Beach Boys songs that some guys with Mike Love still perform. After finishing the spectacular album Pet Sounds, Brian created the song Good Vibrations and was working on an album called Smile. But, Brian was overwhelmed by Sargent Peppers by the Beatles and felt he could not write songs as good (remember Beatles had 3 songwriters) and he started having psychiatric problems.
    After 20 years, Brian finally began to record again and opened his 1988 solo album with this gem. He is basically talking about how difficult it can be living in this world. When you look around, you see loneliness, people drinking to escape, tragedies shown on TV, violence in movies. But, love and mercy TONIGHT, one day at a time, can help you keep going rather than sink into depression.
    The harmonies are as beautiful and sublime as songs by the Beach Boys in the 1960s.
    See the movie, Love and Mercy. Excellent.
    And, if you get a chance, see Brian live, still performing in 2017 with a great band.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went Mainstream

Jesus In Pop Hits: The Gospel Songs That Went MainstreamSong Writing

These overtly religious songs crossed over to the pop charts, despite resistance from fans, and in many cases, churches.

History Of Rock

History Of RockSong Writing

An interview with Dr. John Covach, music professor at the University of Rochester whose free online courses have become wildly popular.

Daniel Lanois

Daniel LanoisSongwriter Interviews

Daniel Lanois on his album Heavy Sun, and the inside stories of songs he produced for U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan.

Janet Jackson

Janet JacksonFact or Fiction

Was Janet secretly married at 18? Did she gain 60 pounds for a movie role that went to Mariah Carey? See what you know about Ms. Jackson.

Reverend Horton Heat

Reverend Horton HeatSongwriter Interviews

The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.

Yacht Rock Quiz

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.