Beach Boys – God Only Knows

Simply a beautiful song written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. Carl Wilson sings lead on this song and it is an incredible vocal performance…one of the best in my opinion. The song peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100 and #2 in the UK in 1966. I still have a hard time believing it only made it to #39.

The Beatles’ “Here, There And Everywhere” was inspired by this song. John Lennon and Paul McCartney heard Pet Sounds at a party and went back to Lennon’s house to write it. Paul McCartney once called “God Only Knows” “The greatest song ever written.”

“God Only Knows” was voted 25th in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,

From Songfacts

Brian Wilson wrote this song with Tony Asher, who was an advertising copyrighter and lyricist that Wilson worked with on songs for Pet Sounds. This song reflects Wilson’s interest in spirituality, and it was a big departure from previous Beach Boys songs that dealt with girls, cars and surfing. Wilson explained to Goldmine in 2011: “Tony Asher and I tried to write something very spiritually. It’s got a melody similar to the song (recites lyric to ‘The Sound Of Music’), ‘I hear the sound of music…’ (Sings lyrics to ‘God Only Knows’) ‘I may not always love you…’ It was similar to it. Tony came up with the title ‘God Only Knows.’ I was scared they’d ban playing it on the radio because of the title but they didn’t.”

This song is considered a Beach Boys classic, but it only managed to scrape the Top 40 in the United States. That’s because it was released as a B-side, partly because of fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with “God” in the title. In the liner notes to the reissued Pet Sounds album, Tony Asher explained, “I really thought it was going to be everything it was, and yet we were taking some real chances with it. First of all, the lyric opens by saying, ‘I may not always love you,’ which is a very unusual way to start a love song.”

Carl Wilson handled lead vocals on this track. Not long after the song was released, he said, “At present our influences are of a religious nature. Not any specific religion but an idea based upon that of Universal Consciousness. The concept of spreading goodwill, good thoughts and happiness is nothing new. It is an idea which religious teachers and philosophers have been handing down for centuries, but it is also our hope. The spiritual concept of happiness and doing good to others is extremely important to the lyric of our songs, and the religious element of some of the better church music is also contained within some of our new work.”

The famous French horn on this song was played by Alan Robinson, who appeared on the scores for many films, including The Sound of Music and The Ten Commandments. He got the call for the session because he could play without music written out. Brian Wilson sang him the horn line he had in mind, and Robinson played it by ear using a glissando technique suggested by Wilson.

Brian Wilson would sometimes introduce this as “the first song in the world to have God in the title.” God is common in hymns and standards (“God Bless America,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee”), and was rare in pop songs, but not unprecedented; in 1961 Johnny Burnette made #18 US with “God, Country And My Baby.”

Brian Wilson planned to sing the lead vocal himself, but decided that his brother Carl was better suited for the track. “I was looking for a tenderness and a sweetness which I knew Carl had in himself as well as in his voice,” said Brian.

This was featured at the end of the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually. It was also used in the films Boogie Nights (P.T. Anderson’s drama about the porn industry) and Saved (a 2004 drama about a Christian high school, where there are two versions, both covers). >>

This was the theme song for the first three seasons of the HBO television series Big Love, which ran 2006-2011.

Asked by The Guardian which Beach Boys song took the least effort to write, Brian Wilson replied: “I wrote ‘God Only Knows’ in 45 minutes. Me and Tony Asher.”

In Al Kooper’s tell-all autobiography Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, Kooper talks about his evening visiting Brian Wilson only a week before Pet Soundshit the streets: “Brian played a test-pressing of the record, jumping up and stopping cuts in the middle and starting them over to emphasize his points. He was very proud of his accomplishment, maybe even a little show-offish, but I wasn’t about to argue. Do you remember the first time you heard ‘God Only Knows’?”

A cover version of the song was broadcast simultaneously across BBC television and radio channels on October 7, 2014 to launch BBC Music. The new adaptation featured Brian Wilson himself as well as various guest stars including Pharrell Williams, Sir Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Stevie Wonder, One Direction and Dave Grohl.

Brian Wilson first toyed with the idea of titling this “Fred Only Knows” before settling on “God Only Knows.”

John Legend and Cynthia Erivo played this to bookend the “In Memorium” segment at the Grammy Awards in 2017. There were an extraordinary number of musical passings that year, David Bowie, Prince and George Michael among them.

God Only Knows

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 livin’ 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
Though life would still go on, believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would livin’ do me
God only knows what I’d be without you

God only knows what I’d be without you

Beach Boys – I Get Around

This is one of the best double A side singles ever released…The B side to I Get Around was  “Don’t Worry Baby.”  I had this single growing up and would watch the yellow and orange 45 spin. I’m not an audiophile but I will say the vinyl version of I Get Around  jumps off the record at you while the cd seems flat.

I Get Around peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 while reaching #7 in the UK  in 1964. This was The Beach Boys first number 1 in the US. It was rated fifth biggest seller of 1964 by both Billboard and Cash Box indicating close to 2 million US units sold.

From Songfacts.

Like most early Beach Boys songs, this does not have deep lyrical content; it’s a fun song about a teenage lifestyle featuring friends, girls and cars. Musically, however, it was incredibly innovative, with an opening fuzz guitar, stop-start rhythms and a keyboard line working in and out of the song. Written by Brian Wilson with contributions from Mike Love, it was the first Beach Boys recording after The Beatles took hold in America, and Wilson responded with this rather complex creation.

This was The Beach Boys first #1 in their own country (“Surfin’ Safari” went to #1 in Sweden two years earlier). Father-manager Murry Wilson and therefore his beleaguered son Brian despaired over not hitting the top spot in the US, coming off second best first to the Four Seasons through 1962 and into ’63, then to Jan & Dean when they got to #1 that summer with “Surf City” – a song Brian Wilson wrote – and then into 1964 with the Beatles took over.

This was The Beach Boys real breakthrough in the UK, reaching #7 in a chart that for months had seen only British faces. It was effusively pushed by Mick Jagger on British TV’s Juke Box Jury and he personally circulated copies of it to the UK’s independent pirate radio stations offshore. It was also #1 in Canada and New Zealand.

Fuzzed and reverbed guitar were demonstrated in this way before anyone else in rock, but too subtle for the general public to notice. It was about three years later that fuzz and reverb became a huge deal from the amplifiers of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards. 

In our interview with Randy Bachman, he recalls a conversation with Brian Wilson where Wilson explained that this song is based on the Broadway show tune “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.” Said Bachman:

“I said, ‘How did you do that?’ He said, ‘Well, when they say to stay on the C chord for two beats, I stay on it for four. Or if they say stay on the C chord for eight beats, I stay on it for two.’ So if you listen to ‘Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, oh, what those five feet could do,’ that’s ‘I Get Around.’ But they went, ‘Round, round, get around, I get around.’ And then he put his own, ‘Woo oo,’ and then he wrote his own song and he put in his own lyrics.”

 

I Get Around

Round round get around
I get around
Yeah
Get around round round I get around
I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around
I’m makin’ real good bread

I’m gettin’ bugged driving up and down the same old strip
I gotta finda new place where the kids are hip

My buddies and me are getting real well known
Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone

I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around
I’m makin’ real good bread
Get around round round I get around
I get around
Round
Get around round round oooo
Wah wa ooo
Wah wa ooo
Wah wa ooo

We always take my car cause it’s never been beat
And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet

None of the guys go steady cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home now on Saturday night

I get around
Get around round round I get around
From town to town
Get around round round I get around
I’m a real cool head
Get around round round I get around
I’m makin’ real good bread
Get around round round I get around
I get around
Round
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah

Round round get around
I get around
Yeah
Get around round round I get around
Get around round round I get around
Wah wa ooo
Get around round round I get around
Oooo ooo ooo
Get around round round I get around
Ahh ooo ooo
Get around round round I get around
Ahh ooo ooo
Get around round round I get around
Ahh ooo ooo