The Beach Boys’ SMiLE: a complete chronological sessionography


In 2012, I published an article (Heiser, 2012) in the peer-reviewed online Journal on the Art of Record Production regarding Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys’ SMiLE project. It consisted of one half of a chapter featured in my new book Popular Music, Power and Play (Heiser, 2021: published by Bloomsbury Academic) – an in-depth case study analysis of the 1966-67 aborted SMiLE sessions. At the time of writing, I was frustrated by the fact there was no reliable and complete chronological sessionography, so I set about making one myself and placed it in the appendices of my thesis document.

I was surprised to find that as a result of doing so I gained some very valuable insights into the hows and whys of the project that wouldn’t have been evident without such a list. Hopefully, now you might do the same. Also of interest is the fact that I’ve included which tracks in the The Beach Boys: The SMiLE Sessions box set (2011) relate to which dates, so you make up your own chronological playlist in iTunes* as opposed to the song-by-song order featured in the box set.

Click here to download this pdf document exactly as it appears in my thesis with page numbers detailed (pp.181-191). If you want to refer to this document in your own work please reference (APA6) as:

Heiser, M. (2015). The playful frame of mind: An exploration of its influence upon creative flow in a post-war popular music-making context (Doctoral thesis). Brisbane: Griffith University.

Click here to buy The Beach Boys: The SMiLE Sessions (2011) box set – including 5 audio CDs, Double Vinyl LP (12″ album, 33 rpm), 2 singles (7″, 45rpm), book, poster and original artwork etc from

Click here to buy The Beach Boys: The SMiLE Sessions (2011) box set – 5 “disc” mp3 album from (*This version is a great low cost alternative if you want to build your own chronological iTunes playlist. The tracks are set out in the same order as the 5 CDs in the full box set, but with added advantage of allowing you to buy only the tracks you need individually).




The Beach Boys (2011). The Beach Boys: The Smile sessions. [CD, vinyl singles & album]. New York, NY: Capitol Records.


SMiLE: Brian Wilson’s Musical Mosaic


smileHeiser, M. (2012). Smile: Brian Wilson’s musical mosaic. In Journal on the art of record production, (7).


The story of Brian Wilson’s aborted Beach Boy’s album SMiLE is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it pioneered a non-linear approach to pop record production decades before digital editing became the norm for record makers. Interestingly, this approach was not just a functional necessity of production, but was inseparable from its compositional process and overall aesthetic quality. Perhaps more importantly, SMiLE arguably became popular music’s first interactive work, with fans making their own linear assemblies of various bootlegged (and released) ‘modules’ long before Wilson ever got around to sequencing them into a final concrete form.
And there’s much more about the SMiLE saga featured in my new book: