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Brian Wilson Goes Solo to Reimagine Beach Boys Classics on ‘At My Piano’

A teaser track, "God Only Knows," is out now to preview the forthcoming collection.

beach boys god only knows at
Courtesy Decca Records

If you ever wondered what it was like to be with Brian Wilson when he was alone, “in my room” with just his keyboard, that opportunity is arriving. Nov. 19 will see the release of “At My Piano,” a newly recorded album that sees the maestro of the Beach Boys revisiting his classic material in solo piano renditions, sans vocals or any other accompaniment.

A teaser track from the album, his new version of the Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows,” is being released today.

The track list for the Decca release, described as “a deeply relaxing collection… perfect for sunsets and golden days,” runs to 15 selections. Diehard fans will relish knowing that it includes even more songs than that, since one of the tracks is “Sketches From Smile,” a medley of four songs — “Our Prayer,” “Heroes and Villains,” “Wonderful” and “Surf’s Up” — from the legendary “Smile” project that was started in the 1960s but only brought to completion in the early 21st century. That medley is then followed by a full-length version of “Surf’s Up,” considered one of his greatest compositions.

Besides “God Only Knows,” “At My Piano” also includes three more songs from the Beach Boys’ most revered album, “Pet Sounds”: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” and “You Still Believe in Me.” Other band favorites include “In My Room,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” the eternally haunting “Till I Die” and eternally celebrative “Good Vibrations.” The new collection also includes Wilson’s most popular song from his catalog as a solo artist, “Love and Mercy.”

The most obscure pick is the penultimate track, “Mount Vernon Farewell,” a short, excerpted version of the more epic “Mount Vernon and Fairway,” released on a bonus EP in 1973 that accompanied the “Holland” album.

“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. I never had a lesson, I was completely self-taught,” Wilson said in a statement. “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.”

Wilson and his music have already been back in a spotlight among the cognoscenti in recent weeks thanks to the release of “Feel Flows,” a boxed set (along with a condensed version) that celebrate the Beach Boys’ fertile 1969-1971 period, which included “Till I Die.”

Wilson’s last studio solo album of original material, “Pier Pressure,” came out in 2015 on Capitol.

The track list for “At My Piano”:

  1. God Only Knows
  2. In My Room
  3. Don’t Worry Baby
  4. California Girls
  5. The Warmth of the Sun
  6. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
  7. You Still Believe in Me
  8. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
  9. Sketches of Smile: Our Prayer/Heroes and Villains/Wonderful/Surf’s Up
  10. Surf’s Up
  11. Friends
  12. Till I Die
  13. Love and Mercy
  14. Mt Vernon Farewell
  15. Good Vibrations

Wilson and his touring band, which includes two other Beach Boys members, Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, head back out on tour Oct. 5 for a three-week run of U.S. shows that includes stops in Washington, D.C., Nashville, Atlantic City, Akron and Port Chester, NY. His touring schedule resumes with a European tour next summer that begins June 4 in the Netherlands and continues with shows in the U.K. in early July.

A documentary about his life, “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” which consists mostly of new interview footage with Wilson, premiered in June at the Tribeca Film Festival. Distribution plans for the film have yet to be announced.