Thursday Night Music: God Only Knows


I had a wee discussion on the Love & Mercy post about Brian Wilson’s, God Only Knows. We agreed that it’s not only one of his best tunes but one of the best songs in the history of American popular music. The cover on the single is from hunger: the Beach Boys in sweaters? Not very beachy or Southern Californian. Also, both songs should have been A-sides. I wonder if that was Mike Love’s idea.  It’s always fun to blame Mike Love…

I’m going to post several different versions of this gorgeous and deeply moving song. Brian’s brother Carl sang it on Pet Sounds and in concert with the Beach Boys before his death in 1998. In addition to sharing parental units, Carl and Brian had remarkably similar voices so it loses nothing in the translation when Brian sings it.

The first rendition features the Beach Boys touring unit lip syncing to the Pet Sounds version. None of them played any instruments on this one so it doesn’t matter that Bruce Johnston is on mime bass instead of Brian.

The second version is the joker in the God Only Knows deck. Carl Wilson was attending the wedding of a family friend and sang  you know what. The thing I love about this video is that the kitchen at the wedding venue is in the background complete with dudes in old school chef’s hats:

Here’s Brian live  in London in 2002:

Finally, some lagniappe, the promo clip for the “B-Side” of the single: