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"I'd always wanted to do something with [Wilson], and the Gershwin angle was something I had always thought about.”
——Walt Disney Records’ David Agnew
RHAPSODY IN GOOD VIBRATIONS
A Pair of American Musical Legends to “Collaborate” Across the Decades
In a Page One story this morning, the L.A. Times broke the news that Brian Wilson has been authorized by the estate of George Gershwin to complete unfinished songs Gershwin left behind when he died in 1937. He plans to finish and record at least two such pieces on an album of Gershwin music he hopes to release next year.

The Gershwin project grew out of a Wilson's recently inked two-album deal with Walt Disney Records. "I'm a massive Brian Wilson fan," label president David Agnew said in an interview with the TimesRandy Lewis. "I'd always wanted to do something with him, and the Gershwin angle was something I had always thought about. In so many interviews he has mentioned Gershwin as a big influence, and if you listen to his music, that influence is obvious."

Meanwhile, the Gershwin estate and Warner/Chappell Music, Gershwin's publisher, had been considering what to do with the many song fragments in their archive. A pianist working from manuscripts left by Gershwin recorded the music at the behest of the estate, according to SVP Catalog Development and Marketing Brad Rosenberger. "When we did this," he told the reporter, "nobody had any idea that an artist like Brian Wilson was even thinking about doing something like this."

Todd Gershwin, George's great-nephew and a trustee of the family trusts, said, "George for his time was a visionary. He certainly crossed genres and musical lines, tried things that hadn't been done before and Brian Wilson has done exactly the same thing."

For his part, Wilson, 67, described himself Tuesday as "thrilled to death. I'm proud to be able to do it," he enthused to Lewis. "Hopefully I'll be able to do them justice."

Todd Gershwin said a collection of several dozen song fragments, ranging from "a few bars to some almost finished songs and everything in between" had been sitting virtually untouched for more than seven decades. He and other trustees began reaching out in the last year or two to find contemporary artists who might be interested in completing those musical bits and pieces.

Wilson, who says "Rhapsody in Blue" is his earliest musical memory, told Lewis the pieces he's working with are very likely to remain as instrumentals, and that they could easily wind up as three-minute pop songs. But he's also holding open the possibility of expanding them to more substantive pieces.

The undertaking will be challenging, Wilson acknowledged. "I can't decipher the verse from the chorus from the bridge," he said, "so I'm going to try to insert some new music into them. I might even write some music for an introduction."

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