Brian Wilson Brings Unfinished George Gershwin Songs To Life

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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So Brian Wilson and George Gershwin walk into a bar…

Okay, not really, but the concept of a Gershwin/Wilson collaboration seems like a punchline. In the weird world of Brian Wilson, however, anything is possible and beginning in 2010, the Beach Boy legend will begin work on two unfinished Gershwin compositions to be released later that year.

The project had an organic beginning: Todd Gershwin, George’s great-nephew and a trustee of the George Gershwin family trusts, wanted to highlight his famous relative’s diverse musical interests. After stumbling upon a collection of several dozen song fragments, Todd Gershwin and several other trustees began reaching out to contemporary artists who might be interested in completing some of the legendary composer’s work.

“George for his time was a visionary,” said Todd Gershwin in an interview with the LA Times. “He certainly crossed genres and musical lines, tried things that hadn’t been done before and Brian Wilson has done exactly the same thing.”

Unbeknownst to many fans, Wilson has spent a better part of the past two decades composing instrumental compositions, and says that hearing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” is one of his earliest musical memories.

The tracks he will complete are as yet unknown but will be short (two to three minutes) and solely instrumental. A legendary recluse, Wilson has remained mostly mum about the project.

This will not be the first time a storied artist will see his works completed after he has passed. Another unlikely posthumous collaboration came about when J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher commissioned Guy Gavriel Kay (author of “The Wandering Tree” and many other fantasy novels) to help finish “The Silmarillion.”

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  1. I’m sure Brian will do George proud. But that little comment about Brian working on instrumental pieces for the past 20 years is intriguing. I’m wondering if he has lots of finished pieces or was just telling the reporter that he works at the piano each day.

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