While in the studio that he uses for his stereo repair business, Ray Shackleford imagines the Beatles recording “The Long and Winding Road.” He discovers that he can put the music from his imagination on tape. Ray meets with Los Angeles music producer Graham Hudson and creates another version of the song for him. Graham suggests that Ray try to create Celebration of the Lizard, an album on which the Doors were working when lead singer Jim Morrison died.
When Ray imagines a Doors recording session, Morrison is too drunk to perform properly. Ray sobers up Morrison by picturing him killing a pedestrian in a car accident. That slows Morrisons drinking and allows him to record the title cut, then the rest of the album.
Graham asks Ray to work next on Smile, a Beach Boys album. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys envisioned Smile as an artistic masterpiece. It was never completed because the other band members thought he should stick with the Beach Boys formula. Ray agrees to create Smile when he learns that Wilsons father was never satisfied with his sons work, much like Rays father had never appreciated him.
Ray returns to Los Angeles to do research on Wilson. While there, he thinks often of Alex, his girlfriend before he met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth. He goes to Wilsons house and imagines interacting with Wilson and the Beach Boys. Wilson records the album while Ray is with him. Ray wakes up in the hospital, having been unconscious in his car for several days. He creates the Smile album he had helped Wilson record, then goes to Cozumel, Mexico, to find out more about his fathers death during a diving expedition. Elizabeth says that she cannot go with him because of her job; Ray realizes that this is an important...
(The entire section is 732 words.)