Song of the Day #618: ‘God Only Knows’ – The Beach Boys

Being an album guy, most of my favorite songs tend to be by my favorite artists. If I were to compile a working list of my 100 favorite songs, I’m guessing the vast majority of them would be by artists who are very well-represented in my CD collection. But there would be a small but potent group of songs that rise to the top all on their own.

The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ is such a song. I do love Pet Sounds but it’s the only Beach Boys album I own and the only one I really care to own. As much as I appreciate their talent and the unique sound Brian Wilson created, I don’t feel any real need to immerse myself in their discography. It’s one of those cases where I’m content to miss the boat.

But ‘God Only Knows’… that’s a boat I can’t imagine missing. This is one of the best-written, best-performed and best-recorded love songs of all time. Scratch that, one of the best song-songs of all time (though aren’t most of the best songs love songs of some sort anyway?).

The catch here is that a die-hard Beach Boys fan would probably say, “Yes, ‘God Only Knows’ is sublime, but have you ever heard [fill in the blank]… it’s a little-known gem that’s even better.” That’s the nagging thought that kicks around in the back of my brain when I say I’m content to miss the Beach Boys boat.

But I choose to drown it out with the sound of this little piece of musical perfection.

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

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #618: ‘God Only Knows’ – The Beach Boys

  1. Amy says:

    I’m surprised to read the affection/appreciation you have for this song. I like how simple its message is, but the music and the way the lyrics are delivered always strikes me as a bit MUCH. Almost as though it’s a parody of a love song. I see this song best used in a sequence in an Airplane, where the romantic leads are running down the beach. Until a tidal wave comes and sweeps one of the lovers out to sea. While the final line of the song plays while the camera lingers on the face of the horrified survivor.

    Does that make me a horrible person?

  2. pegclifton says:

    While I think the lyrics are sweet, I’m not really a fan of their music. And no, that does not make you a horrible person Amy.

  3. dana says:

    I too recognize the genius of Wilson and the uniqueness of the sound he created. That having been said, I can’t say I’m a fan of the sound in the sense that I feel a great need to repeatedly hear “pet sounds” or really anything else from the Beach Boys.

    Now, having said that, I share your nagging feeling that I might be missing out by not exploring other Beach Boys albums. I have similar feelings regarding a number of other critically acclaimed artists such as Led Zeppelin, the who, David Bowie, Lou Reed, etc. This is not to say that I don’t like certain songs or albums from these artists. It’s just that, for whatever reason, I am not such a big fan of the style of music generally that I crave more from these artists.

  4. Kerrie says:

    I don’t think I’m missing anything with the Beach Boys either, but this is also one of my favorite love songs.
    While Amy’s scenario did have me laughing out loud, when I hear this song I am instantly transported in my mind to the closing sequence of one of my favorite romantic comedies, “Love, Actually.” Seeing the resolution of all the relationships in that movie as they play out in the airport with this lovely little song playing; it just works for me. :)
    Yes, I’m a sap; and no, Amy is not a horrible person. :)

  5. Clay says:

    That’s funny… I associate it with the closing sequence of a very different movie, Boogie Nights. :-)

  6. Kerrie says:

    You would, wouldn’t you, Clay. :)

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