Albert Einstein and Brian Wilson reveal the secret of the universe: energy.
“Everything in life is vibration."—Albert Einstein
I recently Amazoned the Brian Wilson movie Love & Mercy. If you're in a hurry, skip to 1:25:24 where the Paul Dano version of Brian Wilson walks around a large tracking room while 12 string players, three engineers, and a couple suits from the label wait and watch nervously. Brian spreads his fingers over the acoustically tiled walls muttering worried sighs until a suit says, “What do you say, Brian? It's been two hours."
Brian: “I'm not sure. It's hostile in here right now. The vibrations aren't right … ummmm…. Okay. Let's cancel the session."
Suit: “Are you sure? It's going to cost like $5,000 with everybody here."
Brian: “Cancel it. We can't work. I don't know; the vibrations are all wrong tonight."
This scene attempts to show Wilson entering a psychotic breakdown. However, at the time Wilson was at the top of his game, having just recorded Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations"—music that routinely makes every best-ever list of pop recordings. So, was Wilson out of his mind or just hyper-aware of those intangible elements that make music great?
Warning: We are heading into a place where physics meets the paranormal. I'm talking a mix of quantum mechanics, entanglement theory, and some new age, hippie-spiritual shit. Oxygen gets a little thin up here when you open your mind, so take a deep breath and let's walk through the looking glass.
There is nothing solid: you, your guitars, your computer, your loved ones, and the floor under your feet. The planets and stars may appear solid, but all of this seemingly rock-solid matter is actually in vibration. All physical atoms are comprised of atomic particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons) that are constantly spinning and vibrating. Ergo, you and all you see and touch are just energy and vibration. We've all heard of Einstein's equation, E=mc2. Here's what it means, essentially: Energy can be transformed into massive particles, and mass can be transformed into energy. Energy is matter.
After recording Pet Sounds, was Brian Wilson really out of his mind, or just hyper-aware of those intangible elements
that make music great?
Mind blown? Well, now consider this: Our thoughts are energy. Studies at Stanford University proved that directed thoughts produce a physical energy, even over remote distance. Let me put this in terms that you'll understand: Your thoughts are literally as solid as a 1957 Les Paul.
Now plug that goldtop into the amp of your choice, turn all the knobs right, and hit that low E like the sumbitch owes you money. The energy from your hand hitting those strings creates a vibration that is a physical presence that joins with the vibration of the universe. If you're ready for a personal paradigm shift, consider this: Those vibrations from the strings are a physical energy, you are a physical energy, and the air molecules around you are a physical energy all comprised of these same basic building blocks. This means that everything in the universe is connected, but nothing actually touches. We're all just a vibrating skin sack of vibrating atoms swimming in a universe of vibrating atoms. We are stardust.
As Nikola Tesla said over a century ago, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration." That's why Brian Wilson was right in cancelling his recording session. Everybody in that studio was nervous. Those negative vibrations were a physical presence in the room that did not vibrate on the same frequency as the music in Wilson's head. The people at the session acted like Wilson was crazy, but I bet most of those musicians were relieved when the session got called off, because they could feel that they were not going to get a great performance. The vibe was not conducive to making great music.
Isn't it interesting that the word “vibe" means, according to Merriam-Webster, “a distinctive emotional atmosphere; sensed intuitively," but its root is vibration? Even our language suggests that emotions are energy vibrating like guitar strings.
When I'm on tour during the summer and I see hundreds of thousands of people who drove for hours, paid too much for tickets, had to deal with bad parking and huge crowds, waiting 20 minutes in line for a $12 flat beer and another 20 minutes for a biohazard port-o-john, I wonder if these people are out of their collective minds. All that trouble just to see music performed does not seem worth it. But then I think about how good it feels to watch or play music when the energy is positive and the crowd is into it, and I totally get it. Live music feels amazing. If church felt like that, I'd be there every week.
Music is more than just melody, meter, and dynamics. It's also energy, frequency, and vibration. Music connects us to life, the universe, and the infinite. Call it what you will, but I think this connectivity of all life, matter and energy is where God lives. This may smell of hippie, but I feel it's absolutely true. That's why all of you reading this are obsessed with guitars. Hit the right note and you're connected to life, the universe, and the divine.