“Southern California,” from the 2008 album That Lucky Old Sun is distinctly a Brian Wilson composition. The lilting melody, and the careful, delicate arrangement bear the imprint of his best songs. Striking to me is the maturity both in the sound of Wilson’s voice and the perspective from which the song is written. “In My Room,” Wilson’s 1963 ballad with the Beach Boys, provides a yardstick by which to measure this maturity.
In “In My Room” the young Wilson sings of his bedroom as being a place where the pain and fear of consensual reality are blocked out in favor of a world of dreams and comfort. Both “In My Room” and “Southern California” use a single, specific location as a point of opening out into a broader metaphysical realm. For the young Brian Wilson it is his bedroom, for the older man it is the entire southern California region. “When you wake up there, you wake up everywhere,” he sings.