Those lucky enough to have seen Brian Wilson in one of his solo concerts knows that it's always a special moment when the Beach Boys' leader plays the piano. While he's always seated in front of a keyboard, he leaves the heavy lifting to such long-serving bandmates as Darian Sahanaja, Gary Griffin, or Billy Hinsche. Yet his mastery of the instrument has never been in doubt; in one moving moment of the recent documentary Long Promised Road, he's seen in the studio showing exactly how a tune should be played. Now, he's announced his first album since 2015's No Pier Pressure, and it's unlike any other he's released before. At My Piano, due November 19 on Decca Records, features just Brian at his piano, playing instrumental renditions of the songs he made famous. It's Brian's first album for Decca and follows a similar release on the label from another pop legend: Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook, out October 22.
"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," Brian comments in the press release for At My Piano. "I never had a lesson, I was completely self-taught. I can't express how much the piano has played such an important part in my life. It has bought me comfort, joy and security. It has fueled 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."
The fifteen tracks, all composed by Wilson with (unheard) lyrics by Wilson and collaborators including Mike Love, Roger Christian, Tony Asher, and Van Dyke Parks, include some of The Beach Boys' biggest hits and most beloved songs including "God Only Knows," "California Girls," "Good Vibrations," and "Don't Worry, Baby." The Beach Boys' 1966 masterwork Pet Sounds is represented by "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "You Still Believe in Me," and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" (the latter a highlight of The Beach Boys' 2012 reunion tour in Wilson's deeply personal rendition). SMiLE, composed for a 1967 release but not finished until 2004, is also recognized with a suite ("Our Prayer/Heroes and Villains/Wonderful/Surf's Up") and a full "Surf's Up." Brian touches on the Feel Flows era with "'Til I Die" and his solo career with signature song "Love and Mercy," while the deepest cut is surely "Mt. Vernon Farewell," likely adapted from his themes for the "Mount Vernon and Fairway" fairy tale included on The Beach Boys' 1973 LP Holland.
Brian Wilson's At My Piano hits stores on November 19 from Decca Records in CD and digital formats while the vinyl LP (with unique artwork) is scheduled for December 17. You'll find pre-order links and the full track listing below. The lead single, "God Only Knows," is streaming now at YouTube and other digital music services.
Brian Wilson, At My Piano (Decca, 2021)
- God Only Knows
- In My Room
- Don't Worry Baby
- California Girls
- The Warmth of the Sun
- Wouldn't It be Nice
- You Still Believe in Me
- I Just Wasn't Made for these Times
- Sketches of Smile: Our Prayer/Heroes and Villains/Wonderful/Surf's Up
- Surf's Up
- 'Til I Die
- Love and Mercy
- Mt Vernon Farewell
- Good Vibrations