As a follow up to That Lucky Old Sun, Brian signed a two-album record deal with the Disney Pearl label in 2009. His first outing was the ambitious Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, released on August 17, 2010. The sessions reportedly spanned October 2009 – February 2010, with Brian being granted full access to the Gershwin catalog and having the unique distinction of realizing two incomplete George & Ira Gershwin compositions: “The Like In I Love You,” and “Nothing But Love”; both co-written with Scott Bennett.
The following is an excerpt taken from ESQ’s Fall 2010 edition.
Brian Wilson: Gershwin music is so easy to sing because it’s so great. That’s where the love comes from my voice. When I hear Gershwin, it just makes me feel so good.
ESQ: How familiar were you with the Ira & George Gershwin songbook before working on this album?
Brian: I actually didn’t know much about their songs until Disney approached me and presented me with the concept to record this album. I only knew George Gershwin from “Rhapsody In Blue.” That’s all I knew until later in my life when I heard some more of his and Ira’s songs. I was four years old when I heard “Rhapsody In Blue,” and I was (around) 28 years old when I learned how to play the violin section of “Rhapsody In Blue” by going back and forth between Leonard Bernstein’s record and my piano until I had it learned.
ESQ: How was it decided to do the recordings with more of the original style or with your touch?
Brian: We took each song separately and treated it the way each song should be treated as a separate song. If you take it one by one, each song has a different personality and a different texture and different rhythm, and different sound. And each lead, how you have to handle the lead, the way you really feel it– and the way you think George would have liked to have heard it. I worked on the songs until it sounded like Brian Wilson and Gershwin together.
Along with Irving Berlin, Gershwin basically invented the popular song, but he did something more. He had a gift for melody that nobody has ever equaled, yet his music is timeless and always accessible. This is the most spiritual project I’ve ever worked on.
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