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Beach Boy Brian Wilson to complete unfinished Gershwin songs

Here's an idea straight from La-La Land, figuratively and literally. Brian Wilson, of Beach Boys fame, has been authorized by the estate of George Gershwin to create songs out of fragments left by the iconic American composer of "Rhapsody in Blue," "American in Paris" and "Porgy and Bess." Turns out that Wilson is working on an album of Gershwin songs, a project that will now likely include a couple of his realizations of what Gershwin left behind.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a terrible idea? No disrespect to Wilson, but he doesn't strike me as the most logical choice to take on such a project -- assuming the very notion of choosing anyone to do such a thing is logical. But, according to a story in the LA Times,

 

Todd Gershwin, George's great-nephew and a trustee of the George Gershwin 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 said in an interview. "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.

Oh, well. I suppose it could be even stranger -- a hip-hopper, or Country-Western star, for example. But maybe Wilson will surprise everybody with music that manages to retain and imaginatively expand upon the essence of whatever kernels of melody, harmony and fascinating rhythm Gershwin left behind. On the other hand, maybe someone will declare, "Let's call the whole thing off."

BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTOS

 

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