Friday, June 27, 2008

Songwriting: God Only Knows



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The Beach Boys: God Only Knows (Instrumental Backing)

I realize not everybody is a musician and some of this may be Greek, but I've always wanted to point out some of these technical musical delights and this is the theme. I'll make it short. The bass line to the verse of God Only Knows, the greatest song in the world, dances around the changes, carving its own path rather than follow the root notes. When you listen to the verse, try to hear how the bass and chords move up and down independently, creating tension and climbing up to that glorious chorus. In a documentary, I think it was Terry Melcher who said the verse 'built a stairway to God'... something like that. Sorry, I should do my research.

Nobody used changes like this in pop music until Brian. The Beatles quickly followed suit. Lyrics are important but you won't hear them on this post. Just listen to those changes. And even better, the production. I love everything on Pet Sounds: the delayed wood block, the slappy bass... an orchestra of perfect sounds. (For those playing along at home, I'd recommend a piano before a guitar on this one.)

God Only Knows
music: Brian Wilson | lyrics: Tony Asher
(Bass notes denoted in bold.)

D.............Bm6
A.............B....
I may not always love you

F#m...F#m7.............B
F#......E...................A
But long as there are stars above you

E............Cdim
B............C.....
You never need to doubt it

E......................A#m7-5
B......................A#.........
I'll make you so sure about it

A...............E.....................F#m7..............E.....
A...............G#...................F#...................G#
God only knows what I'd be without you

4 comments:

Six said...

Hey Brendan,

Great post but you forgot something...

The Vocals!

SMM game. Click on the post title so the comments open up with playtagger. Then try to get the vocals and music in sync...

Six said...

You have to open up two windows to get them both going.

Sorry to hijack your nice post with this silliness.

Matt said...

It's nice to be able to listen to the music seperate from the vocals (and vice verse, Paul!)

It's such a beautiful song, but I'm so used to hearing the 'full package' that, perhaps, I take for granted just how great it is. Listening like this allows a deeper appreciation to the craftmanship.

A great post.

Stephanie said...

This is a beautiful song, I love it, and sometimes I do prefer listening to its instrumentals, or without any vocals. Great work you got here.


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