Established 1980

Copyright©  Mayflower Choral Society 2014

A 501 (c)(3) Corporation Tax ID:  68-0311407

Last modified 6/18/17

Home About Us Contact Us Join us Members Information Scholarship Events Benefit Gala

We wish to share our passion of music whether as singer, student, musician or listener

God Only Knows--The Beach Boys/Manley

Released in May 1966, God Only Knows is the eighth track on The Beach Boys' classic album Pet Sounds.  Written by singer-songwriter Brian Wilson and copywriter-lyricist Tony Asher, the song is now considered to be one of the most influential and innovative popular songs of the 20th century.  A drastic departure from previous songs by The Beach Boys, which tended to be about girls, surfing, and cars, God Only Knows is much more vulnerable and reflective piece and demonstrated Wilson's interest in spirituality.  According to historian John Robert Greene, the song led to the “reinvention of the popular love song”.

In the U.S., God Only Knows was released as the B-side of the single, Wouldn't it Be Nice out of concern that it might be banned due to its title.  In other countries, like the UK for example, God Only Knows was an A-side single and was much more successful.  It went all the way to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart but only barely made the top 40 in the U.S.

In the liner notes to the reissued Pet Sounds album, Asher explained, "I really thought it was going to be everything it was, and yet we were taking some real chances with it. First of all, the lyric opens by saying, 'I may not always love you,' which is a very unusual way to start a love song."

Sung by Wilson's younger brother Carl, the Beach Boys' recording was produced using an unorthodox selection of instruments, including the French horn, and harpsichord.  The song has often been lauded for its harmonic complexity,

In October 1966, Brian stated that "I gave the song to Carl because I was looking for a tenderness and a sweetness which I knew Carl had in himself, as well as in his voice. He brought dignity to the song".  At that time, it was rare for Carl to provide the lead vocal on a Beach Boys song.

God Only Knows was voted number 25 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and was ranked by Pitchfork Media as the “greatest song of the 1960s”.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed it among its 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

God Only Knows also inspired the Beatles' song Here, There, and Everywhere.  John Lennon and Paul McCartney heard Pet Sounds at a party held at London's Waldorf Hotel and 2 weeks later, Paul wrote the song at John's house.  McCartney himself once called God Only Knows "the greatest song ever written."

God Only Knows-

14GodOnlyKnows (1).mp3