Brian Wilson - Let It Shine [Album Version]Details

Although unconfirmed, rumor has it that Brian Wilson hated this song back in the late 1980s when it was recorded. Time, though, seems to have changed his mind as he was including the song on his early 2000s tours. The song was mostly written by Jeff Lynne, with Wilson mainly contributing the opening and closing vocal rounds.

"Let It Shine, I worked with Jeff Lynne from the Electrical Light Orchestra [sic] on that one. Let It Shine in a sense has meaning. In other words there's a light somewhere so let it shine. Let the light shine. It's simple. It's not a real complicated kind of song. Very simple. It's a love song about how he feels a burning fire inside of him and it fills him with desire."
Brian Wilson (1988 - (Brian Wilson - Words And Music promo interview CD)

"It actually wasn't bad at all. I was... It was like an amazing thing. When they asked me to do it, I thought, "You're kidding!' Y'know, this Lenny Waranker asked me from Warner Brothers, um, 'Would you like to produce a track with Brian Wilson?' And I said, 'You're kidding!' Y'know, 'cause he was like up there with Phil Spector. To me he still is. He's like that sort of, uh, ilk. And when I got to meet Brian, uh, we started writing this tune at his house in Malibu. And it was quite, sort of, uh, quite easy, a bit sort of strange. Y'know, nothing like nasty. It was just a tiny bit of a strange thing... situation. Uh, the fact that I'd gone in there like a brush salesman with me guitar and said, 'Okay, let's... we gotta write this tune.' Y'know, I felt a bit peculiar doing it but then we got to... to knowing each other a bit better. And we recorded it... like wrote it and recorded it all in ten days, that Let It Shine. And I'm... I'm really proud of that track. 'Cause Brian's singing really good on it. And he did all the harmonies himself. And, uh, so I'm chuffed with it. It wasn't a bad time at all, it's good. It was very, uh, enlightening and also sort of something I would have never dreamed of doing actually. Y'know, the year before if somebody had said, 'We heard a record you did with Brian Wilson.' I'd have gone, 'No, couldn't ever happen... probably.'"
Jeff Lynne (circa early 1989 - Saturday Sequence BBC Radio 1 interview by Roger Scott)

"Apart from being Otis Wilbury, Jeff has also (somehow) found the time to co-write, and produce a track on the comeback LP of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys resident genius and acid casualty, called, strangely enough Brian Wilson (Sire 925669). The song is called Let It Shine, and the LP is well worth a listen-- we at FTM all like it a lot."
Andrew Whiteside (Early 1989 - Face The Music fanzine #5)

"Well, in actual fact, um, Warner Brothers... it was actually Lenny Waranker came to me and said, 'How would you like to produce a Brian Wilson' track and I said 'what!?' Y'know, Brian Wilson's one of me favorite producers of all time, and, uh, what would I do... just stand around and watch him. [laughs] And, uh, in actual fact I did go in and produce one. We co-wrote it at Brian's house and it was a great thrill for me to work with him. [...] We had a little idea going the first day, second day we had the chorus all done and, uh, we just wrote it together really. In the studio, I played sort of most of the instruments, but, um, Brian played a bit of keyboard and some glockenspiel. He was a good... fun session... sort of a ten day affair, really, where we just met up, wrote the song, went in the studio, recorded it, and then mixed it and it was done. [...] He was very interested in what was going on, I mean, he wanted things how he liked 'em. And so did I. But there wasn't any conflict at all. It was fine. [...] Brian's brilliant at harmony."
Jeff Lynne (June 23, 1990 - Rockline)

"Lynne's production skills were called in to service ailing pop genius Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys - he co-write and produced Let It Shine on Wilson's 1988 solo album. Surely that was a difficult gig? 'It was a tiny bit difficult, yeah,' [Jeff Lynne] frowns, and shoots a meaningful glance out the side of his shades, 'but only because of the way it was structured, with all the doctors and that stuff, and you have to go through this chain of events before you do anything. Like you'd lay down a tape, a little rough thing of a song that I wrote with him, and suddenly someone's got a copy of it and they're playing it to the record company saying, Look at this! What's he trying to do! No foresight whatsoever. I knew what I was going to do with it, but it's like giving somebody an unfinished thing that only you know what it is. It's a cryptic sort of thing. They tried to cut it off at the pass but I finally got it finished and it was really good. I was proud of that piece of work; his singing is good and everything. They're all nice guys. Brian's lovely. It's a shame he's got so many problems with all these people messing him up.'"\Author Unknown (June 1990 - from a transcribed interview of unknown origin)

"At about the same time [as Jeff worked with Roy Orbison on the Mystery Girl tracks] WEA sent Jeff to ex-Beach Boys' Brian Wilson who recorded his first solo album. 'Lenny Waronker [sic] (chief) from Warner Brothers asked me. He said: Would you like to produce a track with Brian Wilson? and I thought he was kidding, 'cause he's up there with Phil Spector, to me he's like that sort of ilk. When I got to meet Brian, we started writing this tune at his house in Malibu and it was quite easy, a bit sort of strange-- nothing nasty-- but it was just a tiny bit of a strange situation, the fact that I'd just gone in there like a brush salesman, with my guitar on and said O.K. we gotta write this tune! I felt a bit peculiar doing it at first and then we got to know each other a bit better. We wrote and recorded it all in ten days, that Let It Shine. I'm really proud of that track, 'cos [sic] Brian's singing is really good on it and he did all the harmonies himself, so I'm chuffed with it. It wasn't a bad time at all, it was good. It was very enlightening and also something I would never have dreamed of actually doing. If the year before somebody had said: Hey, here's a record that you did with Brian Wilson, you know, I wold have gone: No, that could never happen.' (Jeff Lynne 1989) In the end Jeff had not only produced the track but also co-written and he played all the instruments on it, with the exception of Brian's piano. The work with Brian Wilson was great fun for Jeff, although he was a bit bothered about all those people hanging around to make sure Brian was doing everything right. [...] In July 1988 the first solo album of Brian Wilson, simply called Brian Wilson, with the Jeff Lynne produced, co-composed and played on track Let It Shine was released."
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

"I only did one song with him. We co-wrote it, yeah. And, uh, I went 'round to his house in Malibu, y'know, uh, by the sea there. It was really nice. We came up with this tune. I'd had a bit of an idea for the tune when I went and I suggested it to him. He said, 'Yeah, that's good.' And it went on from there, y'know, that was a starting point. And, uh, got it sorted out. Finished the words. And it was very much like working, y'know, on all records I do, uh, if I'm producing it. Just going and doing it, y'know, try and do it quick. Don't try and labor it too much. And it was a pleasure to work with Brian. He's got a lovely voice. And he did all his backing vocals and everything perfectly well. Because he's one of my great heroes too and so it was quite, sort of, y'know, daunting to go 'round his house and say, 'I've got this song for you, mate.' You know what I mean?"
Jeff Lynne (October 1998 - interview with Mark Copolov on 88.3 Southern FM Australia)

"Brian played keyboards on [Let It Shine]. I played bass on it and guitar and some piano. But mostly, Brian did all his own harmonics. Fantastic, big block harmonies. It suddenly sounds like, ah... Beach Boys. And it was fun doing it. It was different."
Jeff Lynne (May 2001 - 20th Century Guitar)

"Brian played keyboards on it. I played bass on it and guitar and some piano. But mostly, Brian did all his own harmonies. Fantastic, big block harmonies. It suddenly sounds like, ah... The Beach Boys. And it was fun doing it. It was different."
Jeff Lynne (2001 - MusicWeb Express 3000)

"Brian [Wilson] was absolutely marvellous. Luckily for me, I did get to work with him and we wrote a song together called Let It Shine on his album, Brian Wilson, in about '89 or something. I got to know him quite well and he was a lovely guy and we wrote this tune and it was very nice and I'm really glad that I did."
Jeff Lynne (October 9, 2012 - Roll Over Beethoven: Jeff Lynne's Favourite Albums article in The Quietus)

"I do love that Brian Wilson one I produced (Let It Shine). We wrote that together, and it worked out well."Yeah, we took Let It Shine [from the Sweet Insanity recordings for the Gettin' in Over My Head album]. I think I wrote that with Jeff Lynne from ELO; he and I wrote Let It Shine. And, you know, I can’t remember those songs, you know?"
Brian Wilson (July 10, 2015 - Recordnet.com website)
Editor's Note: Obviously Brian got things mixed up as Let It Shine was not from the Sweet Insanity sessions.

"At the same time, Jeff was invited to work with another of his musical heroes since childhood, the arch-recluse Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. The result would be Let It Shine, a song co-written and produced on Brian’s eponymous 1988 solo album. For various reasons, it would not the most straightforward of his musical tasks. In fact, it was difficult, [...] 'but only because of the way it was structured, with all the doctors and that stuff, and you have to go through this chain of events before you do anything. Like you’d lay down a tape, a little rough thing of a song that I wrote with him, and suddenly someone’s got a copy of it and they’re playing it to the record company saying, Look at this! What’s he trying to do! No foresight whatsoever. I knew what I was going to do with it, but it’s like giving somebody an unfinished thing that only you know what it is. It’s a cryptic sort of thing. They tried to cut it off at the pass but I finally got it finished and it was really good. I was proud of that piece of work; his singing is good and everything.'"
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"I hadn't known [Brian Wilson] at all, but Brian asked me if I wanted to write a song and produce it with him. 'Yes, please-- I'd love to.' I went to his house in Malibu and wrote it with him right by the seashore; his place was only a couple of steps from the sea. Him playing piano and me strumming guitar and we came up with the song, Let It Shine. Yeah, [Eugene Landy in Brian's life] was pretty grim, actually. [Landy] got struck off didn't he? There was all the minders around and stuff. But Brian's great now and he's got that lovely wife. Anyway, we got to the session and I played lots of the instruments: bass and rhythm guitar and keyboard, and he did some keyboard, and we co-produced. Despite our production backgrounds, there wasn't a lot on it actually. It's a nice tight-sounding record."
Jeff Lynne (December, 2015 - MOJO magazine)

"Let It Shine (1988): I had just finished George Harrison's album when Warner Bros. asked me to produce Brian Wilson. I was like, 'You can't produce Brian Wilson. He's the best producer in the world.' But I said yes and I co-wrote a song with him. We wrote Let It Shine at his house in Malibu. He was really struggling in his life. It was horrible and he was being treated badly. But you could see what a nice guy he was despite everything happening in the background. It was all very distressing. I only saw Dr. Landy a couple of times, walking around with his cape and walking stick. I don't really want to talk about that, though. Brian's doing great now and has a lovely wife."
Jeff Lynne (January 21, 2016 - Rolling Stone article entitled: 'ELO's Jeff Lynne: My Life in 15 Songs')

"I really enjoyed doing the sessions [for Let It Shine]. I remember fixing the bass line, which went from the highest letter on the grid right down to the bottom E or A string, and he walked in while I was doing it. He stared at me and said, 'That’s the longest goddam bass string I’ve ever seen!' I was quite pleased with that!"
Jeff Lynne (April 2016 - Uncut magazine)

"In November 1987, Petty—then coming off his seventh album as frontman of the Heartbreakers, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), as well as a May 1987 arson attack on his house—had a chance encounter with Jeff Lynne, the songwriter and maximalist producer behind Electric Light Orchestra, at a traffic light ('just before the Thrifty [Drug Store],' he told SPIN in 1989) that, as it happened, was located near where they lived. Lynne was just off producing George Harrison’s Cloud Nine, the 1987 album that spawned the surprise MTV hit Got My Mind Set on You, and was at work on Brian Wilson’s Let It Shine."
Sam Sodomsky (October 5, 2017 - Pitchforkcom)


  • Running Time: 3:58
  • Record Date: 1987 or 1988
  • Record Location: Larabee Studio, Hollywood, USA and Smoketree Ranch, Los Angeles, USA
  • Written By: Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Bill Bottrell & Mark Linett
  • Performed By: Brian Wilson (vocals, piano, keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion, bells*, chimes*), Jeff Lynne (bass, guitar, piano), Andy Paley* or Jimmy Bralower* (drums) -- *unconfirmed

  • Released On:
    • Brian Wilson LP album (1988 July — USA — Sire/Reprise 9 25669-1)
    • Brian Wilson CD album (1988 July — USA — Sire/Reprise 9 25669-2)
    • Brian Wilson CD album (2000 — USA — Warner Archives/Rhino R2 79960)
    • Brian Wilson LP album (2013 — USA — Friday Music FRM-25669)
    • Brian Wilson LP album (2015 November 27 — USA — Rhino Records R1 79960)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology LP album (2017 September 22 — Europe — Rhino Records R1 560079)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology LP album (2017 September 22 — USA — Rhino Records ?)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology CD album (2017 September 22 — Europe — Rhino Records 081227937416)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology CD album (2017 September 22 — USA — Rhino Records R2 560079)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology digital album (2017 September 22 — Europe — ?)
    • Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology digital album (2017 September 22 — USA — ?)

  • Used in the Film or TV Program: Orange County (2001)