This song gives me shivers every time I listen to it, within seven seconds. And I've listened to it seven times in the last twenty minutes, believe me. Then the way Carl (double-tracked, I think) sings "so sure about it." Brrrrrr.
Sure, it's widely recognized in much the same way--but to do this every time it's played? There should be scientific research about "God Only Knows." XX% of 100 subjects shivered while listening to "God Only Knows" in a room with no air conditioning in July in Florida.
As much as I want to play hooky and find out what thirty-five straight listens would do for me, I'll instead spend five minutes finding the facts that have made this song rewind-worthy. Wiki tells me that some couple dozen musicians played on this track. Think of it, a veritable small high school pep band's worth of instruments making a sound that is at the same time lush and incredibly simple. "A rich, heavenly blanket of music," said chief genius Brian.
But wait--it's not just the song's delicate density and the facts about its crowded creation that make you go brrr. There is something otherworldly here that connects with the most primitive emotions we've got, the ones that remain buried, for the most part, in traffic-jam behavior and having to do your own laundry, and making spreadsheets and driving children to and from their twelve years of structured edification and making small talk when you don't want to. This song pushes all that away, all that stuff that is not what we really are.
It's something science can't find. Sorry, science.
And it's something new to learn to play. I'll master this before I try "Ram On," with its picking and weird timing and stuff.
So much easier (not).
And a single, flimsy late-afternoon observation about the two: funny how both of these landmark tunes (okay, maybe one -- "Ram On" is kind of just a sweet fillip) are rooted in need, the need to love. A need that means that you are standing on the cliffside and that you have to leap.