Hanging Out With The Beach Boys And Realizing Sometimes “God Only Knows”

I think I may be jumping back to albums tomorrow… Seems like a good time.  I hit some of my favorite songs including today’s selection… and obviously doing a song a day could keep me busy for years.  There is just so much great music and so many great songs out there.

It was funny walking around Malibu today and seeing the virtual Who’s Who of Cars… a McLaren… a few Ferraris… a Maserati and a Bentley… as well as your standard Audis and Porsches… Yes, the 911 Carrera is still my favorite.  Easy to get envious, easy to wish you had more money, and I will admit I did and I do…

The world is run on money and the only way to see the world, really, is to have money.  We are all rich in other ways, and I take that to heart… need to take that to heart more… a lot more.  Yet the desire to have riches is strong.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that… I just have to allow it to focus me and push me forward… find a way to balance creativity and kindness with wealth… The path is out there, the Yellow Brick Road is real and rewarding… I just need to get on it…

I love this song beyond words.  It moves me more than most songs… Its music, its lyrics… It is a true masterpiece and everything that word means.  A song like this makes me rich, it fills me and it makes me yearn for love, powerful beautiful love… We all know it’s out there and even though sometimes it seems dark and confusing… there are always people… family, friends, lovers… who will make us say “God only knows what I’d be without you.”

The Beach Boys – “Gold Only Knows” (Written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher)

“I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you…”

Like many works of genius, this songs seems fairly simple… deceivingly simple, as did a lot of The Beach Boys music at first listen.  Yet the notes and lyrics are so carefully chosen that a little go a long, long way.  There is so much depth… so much power in the words and the ideas and the lush, stunning instrumentation.  Yes, Brian Wilson is a genius… a mad, beautiful, confused, insightful, fricking genius.

Wikipedia says:

God Only Knows” is a song by American rock band The Beach Boys. It is the eighth track on the group’s 11th studio album, Pet Sounds (1966), and one of their most widely recognized songs. “God Only Knows” was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and lead vocal by Carl Wilson.”

“The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first commercial songs to use the word ‘God’ in its title. As producer, Brian Wilson used many unorthodox instruments, including the harpsichord and French horns that are heard in the song’s famous introduction.”

“Brian Wilson explains in his autobiography Wouldn’t It Be Nice: My Own Story that the melody of “God Only Knows” was inspired by a John Sebastian song that he had been listening to.”

“Asher felt confident when writing the song that it would be a big hit. As he explains, “This is the one [song] that I thought would be a hit record because it was so incredibly beautiful. I was concerned that maybe the lyrics weren’t up to the same level as the music; how many love songs start off with the line, ‘I may not always love you’? I liked that twist, and fought to start the song that way. Working with Brian, I didn’t have a whole lot of fighting to do, but I was certainly willing to fight to the end for that. I was probably saying to myself, ‘God, I hope I’m right about this,’ because you’re never quite sure. But I knew that it would work, because by the second part, the real meaning of the song has come out: ‘I’ll love you till the sun burns out, then I’m gone,’ ergo ‘I’m gonna love you forever.’ I guess that in the end, ‘God Only Knows’ is the song that most people remember, and love the most.”

“Wilson “hated the opening line” of the song as “it was too negative.” He eventually gave in after hearing the following lines in the song.”

They continue…Brian Wilson originally intended to sing lead vocal on “God Only Knows” but in the end sacrificed the lead vocal to his brother, Carl: “Well, I thought I was gonna do it. As the song progressed, I said, ‘Hey, I feel kind of natural doing this.’ But when we completed creating the song, I said my brother Carl will probably be able to impart the message better than I could, so I sacrificed that one. But he had a good time singing it.”

“Carl Wilson later described how lucky he felt being given the opportunity to sing “God Only Knows”: “I was honored to be able to sing that one. It is so beautifully written, it sings itself. Brian said something like, ‘Don’t do anything with it. Just sing it real straight. No effort. Take in a breath. Let it go real easy.’ I was really grateful to be the one to sing that song. I felt extremely lucky.”

“Bruce Johnston explains that “Brian really worked a lot on ‘God Only Knows’, and at one point, he had all the Beach Boys, Terry Melcher and two of the Rovell sisters [Brian’s wife Marilyn and her sister Diane] on it. It just got so overloaded; it was nuts. So he was smart enough to peel it all back, and he held voices back to the bridge, me at the top end, Carl in the middle and Brian on the bottom. At that point, Brian’s right move was to get subtler. He had a very tender track here. ‘God Only Knows’ is a very small masterpiece with a major heartbeat, and he was right to peel everybody back and wind up with the three parts. In fact, it’s probably the only well-known Beach Boys track that has just three voices on it.”


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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

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