Pray For Surf Be Still Interview

“Be Still” • Stephen Kalinich Interview
• Phil @PrayForSurfBog Talks with Stephen Kalinich

Phil:  Thank you Stephen for taking time for this conversation . . . Please tell us how you were first aware or introduced to the music of The Beach Boys.

Stephen:  When i was in Binghamton New York as a child i heard the music of the Beach Boys I loved it but i loved Bill Hailey too and Rock music became a central part of my life, but my main interest was sports. My dad was a pro golfer, Steve Kay

Phil:  What’s the story behind you and Dennis becoming friends and then beginning to co-write what became two great songs on the “Friends” album?

Stephen:  We really became great friends after I was signed to Brother Records and i would stay at his house over right. We would create…then go places; out to eat, go the beach, we would hang out. I used to recite poems to him in the studio and out in nature and he had ideas of how to direct me. We would practice at Santa Monica at the Open Theater then would be on stage and he would direct me. We had a great time together.

Phil: Take us into the song composing process you and Dennis had. Did you write poetry/lyrics and simply hand it to him, did he come to you with a melody idea, or did you guys sit at a piano and share ideas for both melody and lyrics?

Stephen:  The way Dennis and I wrote … I did the words or poems first and then he would do the melody. The words inspired the melodies in almost every song. With other people, I gave them a track for music but that was my way of working with Dennis.

Sometimes instantaneously, the music would come

Dennis had the feel for the spiritual, for the grace; it came alive in his music and melody.
With me the words, the poems, seem to have touched the god within part of the soul.
He instinctively and intuitively felt the chords of grace and it awakened him to a creator, in my opinion as a witness, when the music made the words come alive.

Phil: I was heading toward studies in biblical theology when “Friends” was released in 1968. “Be Still” and “Little Bird” both took me to church. They blew my mind! What can you tell us about the inspiration for each song? 

“Be Still” was inspired by the Bible quote: “Be Still and KNOW that I am God.” “Little Bird” was totally inspired; was all inspiration. I saw a little bird in a tree and the bird revealed to me the meaning of life. It was an act of Grace. Be still, is also gospel.

Phil:  Did you and Dennis have conversations about finding God? 

Stephen: We had many talks about God about spiritual healing, Christian Science, God as author of everything. I had the idea in sixties and Dennis and Brian were both in tune with it all; music was a gift through us from the Divine. All music was a gift through us.

Note: “Teach Me How To Pray” by Stephen Kalinich on PrayForSurfBlog

Phil:  Were you aware of the Jesus People within the hippie movement at that time who were releasing Jesus-focused songs on Capitol Records, Dunhill/ABC, and other labels?

Stephen: We were aware of this, but our main influences were “be still; be quiet” before they took up TM. We were aware of hippie Jesus, we believed in the love but not necessarily Jesus-centered, but we loved the idea of Jesus and though “Holy Man” was originally “Oh Holy Man” (I wrote that with Dennis and Carl Wilson was a part of it) it was more influenced by mediation. My take for my lyric in “Oh Holy Man” was closer to a Jesus-type person but neither Jesus or Maharishi. I am not saying Carl agreed with me. Different people have different takes on my lyrics which is different than what the estate used in POB (“Pacific Ocean Blue”). It was not referring to a specific person; it was a man or woman, a being who loves Goodness.

“Be Still. Stillnes  could reveal all this but people interpret in different ways.  Only Dennis could really say what his exact meaning and understanding was, but I lean towards acts of goodness accessible to all. I will send you the original lyrics when it was “Oh Holy Man.” It is open for debate …  we had hours and years of discussions. Dennis and Brian were both super supportive of my poems on Love, Stillness, Grace, God, goodness.

Phil:  Why do you think The Beach Boys catalog has so many songs that seem to inspire spirituality; joy, soul sadness, faith…?

Stephen:  I think there is God in their music; inspiring spirituality even in the sad ones. They were speaking to the times and the music of the young.  They were hopeful often the sad ones were full of emotion and the music of the young

Phil:  Tell us more about” Holy Man”

Stephen:  I just found in my notes from 1974 – dated c.1974 – I have the hand written lyrics.

“Dennis Wilson Carl Wilson and Stephen John Kalinich” is what I wrote on the music sheet. I can show you.
I was sitting on the Piano Bench on Amherst in Brentwood. The house is gone now; they have replaced it with a piano. We are talking about “A Holy Man.” The title we used was “Oh Holy Man.” The “Oh” was important because we were talking to the Holy Man; it was a spiritual search.

During this period I stayed many nights over at the Dennis; house because it was the beginning of my divorce and Dennis was very upset because he thought I was the type who would never get divorced and he elevated me a little and this humanized me. It was riveting, touching. This is the same period he and i would go to Santa Monica open air theatre and he world direct me reciting my poems. He loved it. He was my biggest supporter and then Brian and later Mike. Al a little and Bruce seldom almost never.

I thought you would like to know that this is how “OH HOLY MAN” originated. Greg was nowhere insight and had no authority to edit or touch any lyrics of mine; only Dennis could ask me to change anything, absolutely no one else. I hope the record sells and people love it. It is wonderful for the kids.
        OH Holy Man   are you hiding in the meadow
        Will you feed the hungry children
        Do you make babies grow
        Do you feel the flow
        Can’t you feel the flow
        Where does your power come from Holy man

Oh Holy man
A road I walk upon
Maker of all nations
Light for everyone
I’m searching in the darkness
(Page on back beginning with darkness)
I need a helping hand
Are you the earth I live within?
Do you really understand?
Oh Holy Man, Oh Holy man?

Can you wash my pains away?
Can you make me feel pure
touch me with your kindness
help me find a cure
You are enlightened-
C.1974 Stephen John Kalinich

I like this section. I think this was my original first pass lyric which Carl and Dennis loved. Greg had nothing to do with this. It would be a shame not to include these thoughts in the memory and living testimony of what Dennis was involved with. Carl was also involved. We never signed a document, but this is the real deal. That holiness, that truth, that love, we are all searching for. I was thrilled to find this copy. I have been searching for months.

Phi: Tell us about other expressions of your creativity and art…performances and projects…

“Felix” by Stephen Kalinich

Stephen:  I am a painter. I do spoken word. Ii perform with collaborators. I have done songs with Brian May, Jon Tiven, Frank Black of Pixies aka Charles Thompson, (Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV), PF Sloan, Keith Reid and many others.
You can find  me at Stephen John Kalinich and many poems will come up
Stephen Kalinich Galactic Symphonies
Stephen John Kalinich Story
If YouKnew(The Poetic Works of Stephen John Kalinich)

“A World Of Peace Must Come”
Light In The Attic is releasing a small run of our newest, strangest reissue.
Stephen John Kalinich was an aspiring poet/gas station attendee who befriended The Beach Boys in the late-60s. Mr. Kalinich actually ended up penning a few lyrics for both The Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson’s recently reissued solo project.
Stephen’s album, A World Of Peace Must Come, recorded in 1969 was the product of a single evening in the basement of Brian Wilson’s Malibu studio (including a song recorded in the bathroom).  The album, a scathing portrait of the 1960s painted in strokes of spoken word, was then promptly lost for 20 years, rediscovered and is now being reissued by us nearly forty years after its creation.  It is at times beautiful, at times bizarre, and a precise capturing of the moment in time that was the end of the 1960s. This has never before been released in any format.  Brian Wilson is the man saying “Hi Steve” at the beginning of “Be Still.” Click>

Phil:  Thank you Stephen … IIs there anything more you’d like your fans and followers to know?

Stephen: I want people to know I believe goodness and stillness are very important and to be aware and watchful but walk in Joy and be grateful for life.

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