By Steven Suskin
02 Dec 2012
Feinstein has been recounting his years with Ira — and his intimate knowledge of the life of George, through his brother's eyes — ever since. In articles, interviews, liner notes, television programs, and in his dandy 1995 memoir "Nice Work If You Can Get It: My Life in Rhythm and Rhyme."
Now, he turns back to Ira and George for The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs[Simon & Schuster]. The same subject with the same source material, yes; but this is a very different — and more effective — look at George (whose life soared until it burned out at the age of 38) and Ira (who lasted more than twice as long — dying in 1983, at the age of 86 — but effectively withdrew from the public after 1954).
It is almost as if Feinstein — now in his mid-50s — has distilled all his memories and observations into the essential Gershwin. He tells us much less, here, than before; but rather than anecdotes, we seem to be getting a clearer picture, a clearer explanation of who George and Ira were. And how the remarkable George, starting in 1924, was able to literally change the world of American pop culture.