Let me preface this post by saying this song holds such significance to me and I will try to articulate my profound love of it. I can only hope everyone experiences the same level of infatuation with something to which I have with this song.
Just the other night while I was taking a short break from late night homework, something strangely magical happened. I was listening to one of my “Daily Mix” playlists-Spotify creates never ending playlists of songs you already play frequently mixed in with songs similar to those, but that you’ve never played before. I’d highly recommend checking out your Daily Mix playlists. All of the sudden, my favorite song of all time starts playing: “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. You can imagine my surprise as this playlist is entirely comprised of modern indie music played a song from 1966. But it wasn’t the original version…
As if I didn’t love this song enough already, a band by the name JR JR has rendered me speechless with their cover of “God Only Knows”. This is not to say that I like this version better than the original, but it’s a close second. JR JR incorporates swirling indie elements draped over the songs original bones in a genuine way. With the same vocal inflections and mystical echoes in the bridge and at the song’s end, it’s strikingly close to the original, but with the perfect infusion of indie accents. I’ve had it on repeat all week.
Growing up, my dad played The Beach Boys Sounds Of Summer album outside by our pool all summer, every summer. That CD is a collection of The Beach Boys’ summer anthems; “greatest hits: summer edition”, if you will. “God Only Knows” has been my favorite Beach Boys song since I can remember-it’s even become me and my dad’s song. (My mom and I have a song too, don’t worry. It’s probably “I Know You, I Live You” by Chaka Khan, but that’s a different story for different time). “God Only Knows” features bittersweet lyrics and haunting instrumentals, including the french horn and steady piano chords.
If you’re unfamiliar or haven’t clicked either song yet (shame on you either way), the song begins with the verse:
“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”
That opening line gets me every time. Even since I’ve grown to listen to much more of their music-Pet Sounds is the greatest album of the 20th century and Brian Wilson is one of the greatest musical masterminds to ever live; I digress-this song still remains my favorite. Its musical landscape creates such beautiful scenery that it can often distract from the enchanting yet tragic lyrics. There are so many ways to breathe in this masterpiece, it’s overwhelming. It gives me chills with every repeat of this song and I am just as enamored as the previous listen. Paul McCartney even said this was the greatest song ever written. So if you don’t take my word for it, take his.
Thank you for sharing your gift with the world, Brian Wilson. “God Only Knows” what I’d be without this song.
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