The Beatles’ Paul McCartney revealed one of The Beach Boys’ songs is his favorite song of all time. In addition, he said he cries every time he hears it. During an interview, one of the writers of the song reacted to Paul crying over the song. The other writer of the song said he was worried about using a certain word in the song’s lyrics.
1 of The Beatles and 1 of The Beach Boys reacted strongly to this song
The Beach Boys produced many great songs. “California Girls,” “Kokomo,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.” remain staples of classic rock. However, the BBC says Paul likes one Beach Boys song more than the rest.
“‘God Only Knows’ is one of the few songs that reduces me to tears every time I hear it,” Paul said. “It’s really just a love song, but it’s brilliantly done. It shows the genius of Brian [Wilson]. I’ve actually performed it with him and I’m afraid to say that during the soundcheck I broke down.”
Interestingly, Wilson holds “God Only Knows” in high esteem as well. During an interview with The Guardian’s Adrian Deevoy, Wilson said he considers “God Only Knows” the best song he ever wrote. Notably, he composed the song with Tony Asher in a mere 45 minutes. When Deevoy mentioned Paul cried while performing the song, Wilson replied, “How about that?”
How The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and songwriter Tony Asher wrote ‘God Only Knows’
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Asher gave fans insight into how the song came together. “We didn’t spend a lot of time writing it,” confirms Asher. “It came pretty quickly. And Brian spent a lot of time working on what ended up being the instrumental parts of that song. But the part that has lyrics really was one of those things that just kinda came out as a whole.”
Asher and Wilson were worried about using a certain word in “God Only Knows.” “We had lengthy conversations during the writing of ‘God Only Knows,'” Asher recalled. “Because unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America,’ no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song.”
The way the public reacted to the song
Interestingly, “God Only Knows” was not a major hit. It peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for eight weeks. Its parent album, Pet Sounds, was a bigger hit. It reached No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 47 weeks.
“God Only Knows” was considerably more popular in Paul’s native United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, “God Only Knows” reached No. 2 in the U.K., staying on the charts for 14 weeks. Pet Sounds peaked at No. 2 there in 1966 and at No. 26 there in 1995. Paul and Wilson really liked “God Only Knows” — and God only knows they weren’t the only ones.