Since their inception in 1978, the Kennedy Center Honors have redefined America's perception of its artistic legacy and reinvented the way this nation rewards its artists. The Honors have been compared to a knighthood in Britain, or the French Legion of Honor — the quintessential reward for a lifetime's endeavor.Brian Wilson gets one tonight.
The website notes that the names of guest performers remain secret until the "show" (event?) is in progress. Who'll perform in Brian's honor? Barenaked Ladies (who wrote "Brian Wilson")? Sufjan Stevens (whose music suggests a deep Wilson influence)? In my most speculative heart of hearts, I can imagine Paul McCartney singing "God Only Knows." What I suspect we'll get though is an everything-but-the-kitchen sink — no, wait, put-the-sink-in-too — performance of "Good Vibrations" along the lines of the one in 2001's All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson, which involved Heart, Jubilant Sykes, and the Boys Choir of Harlem.
The Kennedy Center Honors will be broadcast on December 26 on CBS.
[Update, 12.03.07: Lyle Lovett sang "God Only Knows"; Hootie and the Blowfish did "I Get Around": Kennedy Center honors for 5 (San Jose Mercury News).]
[Update, 12.26.07: The show aired tonight on CBS. Three, not two, performances followed Art Garfunkel's brief tribute and biographical narrative. Lyle Lovett: ghastly. Hootie and the Blowfish: much better than I had expected. "I Get Around" segued into "California Girls." What the article I linked to left unreported was a performance by the boys' choir Libera of "Love and Mercy," beautifully sung and tear-inducing. Love and mercy to you, Brian Wilson.]
[Reflected in Brian's mirror, left to right: Mike Love, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Dennis Wilson]
The Kennedy Center Honors
Music from the Kennedy Center (Links to YouTube clips)