Never need to doubt it

Pitchfork once claimed that the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” was the single best song of the 1960s, which would be startling only if it weren’t true. Herewith, some minor factoids concerning the song:

  • Only one of the Beach Boys — Carl Wilson, who also sang lead — actually plays on the track: he’s on twelve-string guitar.
  • Paul McCartney said it was his favorite song, period.
  • There’s a vocal version of it in the videogame Bioshock Infinite.

The BBC “Impossible Orchestra” version, recorded as a charity one-off in October, has detractors, like this guy in the Independent:

With its message, that the BBC “owns” the entire musical waterfront and licence-fee payers would do well to remember that, it is the kind of propaganda film an autocratic regime sensing that its legitimacy is crumbling might produce.

By which I infer that he’d be just fine with it had it come out on Channel 4 or ITV.

But the hell with that noise. It’s a stirring rendition of a seriously beautiful song, and I don’t care how preposterous the presentation might be.

You’re excused if you didn’t recognize Pharrell without a hat.

(Previous “God Only Knows” discussion here.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    1 December 2014 · 7:07 pm

    Wow, talk about a “nuffer.”

    It’s a lovely and striking rendition. I dunno, I prefer stuff like that without the side of snarky commentary.

  2. fillyjonk »

    1 December 2014 · 7:09 pm

    And a confession: the song always makes me a little sad, simply because I have no one in my life I could really say that about – or who would likely say it about me.

  3. CGHill »

    1 December 2014 · 9:02 pm

    I’m usually okay as long as I don’t try to sing along. If I do, I’m lost.

  4. Roger Green »

    2 December 2014 · 5:48 am

    As you know (because you commented) I linked to this a month or so ago, with a link to to a list of all the performers, only about 40% I could name on sight (May, Wonder, Pharrell, Chrssie , Florence W, Grohl, of course BW, maybe one or two more)

  5. CGHill »

    2 December 2014 · 6:56 am

    I didn’t do any better in terms of recognition. Then again, I’d argue that no one was as easily recognizable as Stevie Wonder.

  6. Roger Green »

    2 December 2014 · 6:59 am

    You are probably right SW is more recognizable than BW.

  7. Charles Pergiel »

    3 December 2014 · 9:39 am

    BW? Boy Wonder? Oh, Barry White maybe. Was he in there? I didna see ‘im.

    Beach boys:
    What’s with the hat?

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