Pet Sounds Track-by-track VIII: God Only Knows

It was during one of the September 2007 That Lucky Old Sun shows that I realised one of Brian’s fundamental problems. He had just performed God Only Knows to a standing ovation and it made me think – Brian had written the perfect song at age 23 -surely everything else after that would be a let down whatever happened?

Of course, we know that Brian did a lot after God Only Knows, and his achievements since 2000 must rate as a truly great comeback. But God Only Knows has an undefinable quality that must make it surely one of the greatest composing achievements from the human race. It transcends rock, pop, classical and any other genre and invokes the deepest part of all of us – deep, unconditional love for another person and possibly an even deeper spirituality. The arrangement, with the french horn and the “clip clop” sound is completely removed from the rock and roll archetype.

All the elements work perfectly together -Carl’s aching vocal is one of key parts of the song, as is Tony Asher’s lyric and those harmonies from heaven. It may have been brave for Brian to incorporate “God” into the title of the song, but there is real sense of an inspiration from Someone above.

Brian may have not topped this song -and nobody probably has in the subsequent 50years, nor will anyone probably in the next 50 years. Maybe it’s a glimpse of heaven; maybe it’s the sum of all our hopes and fears, but it is a simply brilliant song, and that isn’t opinion. It’s a fact.

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