1. God Only Knows – Beach Boys.
Ultimately, a song I know a lot about, from Brian and Carl Wilson praying before the recording to Brian’s obsessive orchestration. It’s Beach Boys and it’s beautiful.
I’ll tell you how strong it is. Its use as the ending of the movie Love Actually probably raised the movie’s enjoyment from a B-minus to a B-plus.
There are two things that really seal the deal for me picking this particular song. One was when I went to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in May of 1998 and came across the tribute to Carl Wilson, who had died a few months earlier. Coincidentally, there was also a tribute to another Carl who had recently died, Carl Perkins. Quite moving.
The other factor was listening to the Beach Boys’ 5-CD boxed set, which has a 9-minute version of “God Only Knows,” the first 6 of which is rehearsal, but the last 3 of which is a phenomenally beautiful rendition, ending in classic Beach Boys vocalese, which I hope sees the light of day as a separate release someday.
There are all sorts of artists whose music I enjoy, from James Brown to Led Zeppelin, the Police to the Talking Heads, who I enjoy immensely, yet somehow didn’t make this particular list. If I do it again – don’t hold your breath on that! – I will make a point of seeking other artists.
The Royal Guardsmen are finally going to England “After our hopes were dashed more than forty years ago, one of our desires has come to fruition.” Readers of this blog may recall a spirited but friendly debate I had with the Guardsmen’s drummer over the release of their song Snoopy Vs. Osama, which had a far more serious tone than the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron songs of the 1960s. Even though we disagreed, I’ve been wishing John Burdett and the group well, and even subsequently got hold of an RG greatest hits collection. Maybe it’s because the group and I have the same initials.