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Rock study 

What do you know about the Beach Boys? Specifically, what do you want to know about its head, Brian Wilson? If you're a die-hard fan, 120 music appreciation credits short of expertise, or you simply want to know why your father won't relax about the musical magician behind the song "Good Vibrations," find your way to the Birmingham Library this Wednesday night for some answers and insight — M. L. Liebler, a poet and professor at Wayne State, is holding the final lecture in his Rock Icons series.

Past lectures focused on the Beatles, the women of Motown and Bob Dylan.

Liebler draws on friendships, like his with Alice Cooper or poet Andrei Codrescu, to add a personal element to the discussion, while rare visual and audio clips such as bootleg recordings of Dylan's The Basement Tapes, and unreleased documentaries, like the Dylan account Eat the Document, have been taken from Liebler's personal library to complement the narrative.

"I'm trying to fill in a lot of gaps that interested people might want to know about these artists," Liebler says.

The Beach Boys (well, more accurately Brian Wilson and the lauded albums Pet Sounds and Smile) will be the last segment in the monthlong series dedicated to looming figures in rock 'n' roll's canon.

Liebler — a jolly man who sports a Grateful Dead baseball cap and a 10-inch, snow-white goatee — has taught classes about the Beatles and Motown, but reveals that he's not an expert on '60s-era pop.

"I'm not an expert in anything, I just know a bunch of crap."

Recently, while teaching a course about major American authors, Liebler asked his students how many had never heard of Bob Dylan. In class of 30 students, 20 raised their hands.

Inspired by this discovery, Liebler teamed up with the Baldwin Library and a young librarian named Bill Harmer who had already approached Liebler about doing a lecture series on the Beatles.

Surprisingly, the audiences so far have covered the generational spectrum, from teens to those who remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan — they've all taken seats to learn a little something about rock 'n' roll history.


7 p.m., Wednesday, June 28, at the Baldwin Public Library, 300 W. Merrill, Birmingham; 248-647-1700.

Daniel Voros is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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