Brian Wilson: “The Piano and the Music I Create on it Has Probably Saved My Life”

One of the greatest creative minds in the history of recorded music, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, has released a brilliant new album: At My Piano.

Videos by American Songwriter

Clad with 15 stripped-back, instrumental versions of his most beloved songs—like “God Only Knows,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Good Vibrations” and more—the album not only demonstrates the inimitable genius of Wilson’s composition skills, but also his unwavering love for his lifelong friend: the piano.

“We had an upright piano in our living room and, from the time I was 12 years old, I played it each and every day,” Wilson said in a press statement. “I never had a lesson, I was completely self-taught.”

Nonetheless, the naturally-gifted Beach Boy became proficient on the keys, eventually building up an entire musical vernacular that would go on to spawn some of the biggest hits in the canon of American songs. But even on a deeper, more personal level, speaking the language of the piano has been a vital element in Wilson’s journey.

“I can’t express how much the piano has played such an important part in my life,” he said. “It has bought me comfort, joy, and security. It has fuelled my creativity as well as my competitive nature. I play it when I’m happy or feeling sad. I love playing for people and I love playing alone when no one is listening. Honestly, the piano and the music I create on it has probably saved my life.”

Famously, Wilson has suffered from several nervous breakdowns throughout his colorful career—through all the ups and downs, his piano remained a trusty friend. Even today, he seldom makes an appearance on stage unless he’s sitting behind the piano bench. 

With all that in mind, At My Piano offers a truly meaningful glimpse into the artistry of a man who shaped the very fabric of modern popular culture. Stripping away the legacies, the media portrayals, and all the fanfare, being able to dive into the compositions themselves—in the format where Wilson most cherishes them—is a true delight.

Read more coverage on Brian Wilson HERE and watch the music video for “Good Vibrations” below:

Photo by Pamela Littky / Decca Records

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