Culture

Mike Love: Vietnam Vets Have Told Beach Boys 'Your Music Saved My Life'

John Stamos and Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath rehearse with the Beach Boys for "A Capitol Fourth" on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on July 3, 2017. (Cheriss May/Sipa via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Looking back on his career with the Beach Boys, musician Mike Love described the “humbling experience” of hearing from Vietnam veterans how much his band’s music helped them get through “very tough” times.

Love also said he hopes today’s elected leaders learn from the Vietnam era that “a lot” of options need to be “exhausted” before making the decision to go into battle.

“A lot of that, unfortunately, is driven by a lot of dynamics that have nothing to do with bringing democracy anywhere or anything. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the military industrial area, which we don’t need to get into on July Fourth. However, I think people going into battle, there’s got to be a lot of things exhausted before you take that step,” Love said during an interview before the “A Capitol Fourth” concert dress rehearsal Monday on Capitol Hill.

“That’s my personal opinion because I’m into transcendental meditation, which I’ve practiced since December 1967 and one of the things that attracted me about meditation was the idea of meditating, expanding your conscience, mind, and creating your way out of negative situations, rather than confronting people – eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and all that kind of stuff – so I think peace, err in the direction of peace is the greatest, but with dignity and honor and strength,” he added. “And so I think that’s what – at least the type of meditation I practice – helps in that regard to allow you to contribute in a positive way to society.”

PJM mentioned the recent signing of the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which aims to speed up the process for the removal of problematic Veterans Affairs employees as a way to reform the department.

“We follow that. So, yeah, I think things can be better and can get better and I think if we keep accentuating the positive, the world will be a better place,” Love said.

Love reflected on some of the “touching” stories veterans have told the Beach Boys over the years.

“There were many, many instances in which people who served in, for instance, Vietnam, have told us how our music helped them get through a very tough time and get through what they had to do. In fact, people have told me ‘your music saved my life’ and I said, ‘what?’ Because we didn’t go into the music business thinking we were going to save anybody’s life,” Love said.

“We were just creating songs about what we knew and our environment in Southern California growing up, but I’ve literally had people tell me how much our music meant to them – especially our Vietnam vets – because our music was so popular in the mid-’60s and beyond,” he added. “And so for us, it’s very touching when we hear how much our music has meant to people. It’s just a great honor and a humbling experience, you know.”

The Beach Boys performed several of their hit songs onstage at the July Fourth concert along with a new version of “Do It Again” with Mark McGrath, lead singer of Sugar Ray, and John Stamos, the host of the show, playing drums.

In January, the Beach Boys headlined the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots inaugural ball at the National Harbor just outside of Washington the night before the inauguration of President Trump.