Bentley's Bandstand: Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

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BY BILL BENTLEY

Brian Wilson, Reimagines Gershwin, Walt Disney Records

Winnie the Pooh, another proud member of the Walt Disney stable, would surely be smiling about Brian Wilson’s new album, if for no other reason that it takes a minute to make sense of how the head Beach Boy ended up singing “I Loves You Porgy.”

Pooh Bear was used to being slightly confused. And you have to admit that Wilson’s wasn’t a move anyone could have really seen coming. But once it sinks in, along with all the other George and Ira Gershwin classics rendered here, it wouldn’t be surprising if the two Gershwin brothers had an inspirational hand in composing “In My Room,” “God Only Knows” or “Caroline No.” Music is nothing if not a long line of connected notes and feelings, and Brian Wilson surely ranks right up there with the greatest composers in history. So why shouldn’t California’s favorite son look back in glory at his earliest inspiration and find a way to make a home there?

Wilson has said “Rhapsody in Blue” is his earliest musical memory, and what a way to start. No wonder he was able to record Pet Sounds in his early 20s, and all the other mind-blowing songs he’s created. The man has deep roots. What he does with “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “‘S Wonderful,” “Love Is Here to Stay,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and others on this tingling album is of a perfect piece with the Beach Boys recordings, really, and feels just fine. In fact, it’s how he turns a few of these gems into modern wonders, especially “I Got Rhythm,” that shows what a true genius Brian Wilson is. He knows better than anyone alive that it’s all just music, and when the heart is open and the soul is free there is no stopping what can happen. His voice has never sounded better, and the way he and collaborator Scott Bennett actually complete two unfinished George Gershwin originals makes the mind reel with what could have been if time machines actually existed.

It must be a great day in the Hundred Acre Wood for Owl, Eeyore, Pooh Bear, Christopher Robin and the rest of those fine fellows. Forever must feel just fine.

Bill Bentley is a writer, musician, publicist, record producer and A&R director. He once played drums with Lightnin’ Hopkins.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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