Friday, March 06, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Beach Boys - "God Only Know" (1966)

I was always a skeptic of The Beach Boys. Growing up named after Paul McCartney, you can tell that my family was a Beatles family. It was a while before I ever gave them a chance. I always assumed they were just annoying songs about surfing and driving cars. Pet Sounds is obviously a classic, but I always assumed it would be pure crap, but sonically interesting or something. Well, the more you listen to it, the more Pet Sounds becomes something more than just a great pop record and it becomes a pop music masterpiece. If anything, the song "God Only Knows" stands so high above the rest of this album that Pet Sounds is worth owning for just one song. It's easily one of the greatest pop music recordings of all time. This song is a love song to the ears.

Brian Wilson masterfully crafted a brilliant pop love song and one for the ages. The song is almost untouchable, atlhough Petra Haden using only her voice and an eight track was able to recreate the melody and magic of the tune. The song is rather untraditional for a pop song. The percussion is lush but sparse all at once, the harmonies carry the song out into the ether and above it all. Brian's brother Carl sings lead here and although Brian initially intended to sing it, I think this was the better move. Carl's sweeter voice really adds an endearing element to the beautiful music that surrounds it.

The Beach Boys were never able to top Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson lost his mind. Regardless, this song has gone on to inspire some of todays best acts. The melodies created here are some of the best.

Up Next: Buffalo Springfield's protest song

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