REVIEW and Q&A: Brian Wilson – At My Piano

Decca Records

By David Beard

Brian Wilson At My Piano is a sonic exhibit, and like any great painting framed and hung on the wall, it changes the room. This intimate fifteen-song collection puts you in the room next to Brian Wilson while he sits behind his Yamaha piano and plays. This album has little to do with fanfare, and everything to do with the intimacy of the notes and Brian’s touch.

Brian took the time to answer questions I had about the new album.

Endless Summer Quarterly: What inspired this collection?

Brian Wilson: I was inspired by doing something like this in a very pleasant way and in a very cool relaxing environment. The melodies gave me inspiration. 

ESQ: How long did it take you to choose the songs you wanted to include in the collection?

Brian: I had the songs picked out in my head quickly. These are the songs I wanted. I really didn’t consider others but if I did, I just let them go once my mind was made up. 

ESQ: Did you find that you needed to revisit any piano charts, or did you record the album by memory?

Brian: I went strictly by memory and did not need to see charts or anything else. These are my songs. They are in my brain forever. 

ESQ: Where was the album recorded?

Brian: I recorded it at my friend Darian (Sahanaja’s) studio TomorrowLabs. He’s been in my band from the beginning. (He’s) a great singer and musician. It took a few weeks to record and finish.

ESQ: At times, there are piano overdubs. Did Darian record any parts?

Brian: Nobody played piano but me and I layered each piano part in the same way I always make records.

ESQ: How did it feel to just let your music (without words) speak?

Brian: The melodies speak. I let the melodies do the talking. And they do. I listened to each completed track, so I heard the finished record. Start to finish. I was very happy, and I thought okay, it’s done! and I love it!

ESQ: Why did you decide to call the Mt. Vernon piece, “Mt. Vernon Farewell”?

Brian: Mike (Love) lived on Mt. Vernon, and it was a long, long time ago and I just wanted to say goodbye to a cool memory. 

ESQ: Do you think you would consider recording a volume two?

Brian: Yes, I would consider doing another record like this but there are no plans to do it. 

ESQ: Do you have a new original melody in mind that you’d like to record? If so, what is it called?

Brian: There are always bits of new melodies in my head but nothing complete enough to inspire me to record.

As listeners, we haven’t been treated to an album like this by Brian, and as simplistic as it is, this collection allows us to know Brian more intimately. His touch on “Friends,” “Till I Die, “Love And Mercy” and “Mt. Vernon Farewell” is delightful, but the one song that grabs my emotional attention is “You Still Believe In Me.” This is as powerful in its current wordless form as it was on Pet Sounds in 1966 – when it was enveloped in Beach Boys harmonies.

So, the Godfather of vocal arrangements is releasing an instrumental album. I know, it doesn’t make sense on the surface, but boy does it work in the grooves. More Bacharach than Beach Boys, this is Brian channeling ‘feels.’ And we have a front-row seat at the piano with him. The album will be available digitally on Friday, Nov. 19, the CD is being released on Friday, Dec. 10, and The LP Friday, Dec. 17.

©2021 David M. Beard/All Rights Reserved


Leave a comment

Mark Heinze

2 years ago

Some of the most beautiful music around. I’m so glad Brian decided to do this

Alan Forrester

2 years ago

Thank you, very illuminating.

Got mine ordered and will collect, from one of the last local record stores, on release day !

Frank Aimetti

2 years ago

Wow…I already ordered the CD, can’t wait to listen, listen, listen…
I think I like the cover art on the LP more than the CD.

Alan Haydock

2 years ago

I heard a preview of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” from the album on Classic FM (UK) today. Wonderful in it’s simplicity and at the same time, complexity, like all of Brian’s past work. Magical!

Mike Mcloughlin

2 years ago

At this stage in his career it makes sense and I like many others look forward to hearing it. I also remember Neil Young saying on video quite a while ago that if Brian wanted to do this, it would still be great as it’s Brian Wilson!


2 years ago

Nice job, David

Martyn Miles

2 years ago

I have just received my CD and I’m listening as I write. These songs have been part of the soundtrack in my life. Many bring back a particular happy memory.
Singing along with my children in the car whilst going on holiday. Relaxing with friends and countless other occasions. Now, as I listen to Brian Wilson play them, the memories return once again.
Just wonderful…

Frederick Magata

2 years ago

What a lovely album – great pick of songs, Brian!
I was surprised to notice that Friends sounds like a gymnopaedie by Eric Satie on piano.

Visit our store to purchase any of our available back issues.