Original Guitar Arrangement “God Only Knows” The Beach Boys

I’d like to share my arrangement of the classic Brian Wilson (& Beach Boys) song with you.

In every poll rankings of the greatest Pop songs of all times “God Only Knows” rates very highly.

It ticks every box as to what makes a great song.

It has catchy hooks in both the verse and the chorus.

After establishing the verse and chorus the listener is then taken on a journey with a musical interlude; that makes us feel like “we’re going somewhere” before returning to the original verse and chorus which then gives us a feeling of coming home.

The chord progression is really interesting also and gives us a feeling of motion.

When I was learning to play I was very ambitious to become the best musician that I could be so I sought out the best teachers.

I studied with Dulcie Holland for theory and for Classical Guitar I had lessons with both Peter Calvo (who’d been a student of Len Williams and founded the Australian Institute of Music) and Greg Pikler who was one of Australia’s most respected guitar teachers.

For Jazz I had lessons with Ike Isaacs and I traveled to New York to have lessons with Bucky Pizzarelli.

I really wanted to have a comprehensive training.

The Beatles vs the Beach Boys

Then when I started my “Guitar Heroes” show and got to play with and interview a lot of Australia’s great guitarists I found that most of them… weren’t formally trained.

You don’t just wake up one day, however, and instantly play great.

They all worked hard and you could say the better the player the harder he’d worked on his playing and what they would work was songs.

Sandpit Piano

By learning lots of songs, and if you learn enough, you’ll discover the commonly used chord progressions and see how the melody sits on the chord progression which is really what were learning when we study theory and harmony.

Tommy and Phil Emmanuel are great examples of musicians who learnt music by learning lots of songs.

Like a child that pulls his train set apart to figure out what makes it works, Tommy & Phil would pull songs apart to work out what made them interesting to the listener.

This is what I’m doing when I make my arrangements of songs also.

I try to work out how I can fit the melody in with the chords and bass so it’s a good way of finding out what makes the song tick.

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and the Beatles had a kind of competition going where they tried to outdo one another.

When Brian Wilson heard “Rubber Soul” the Beatles 6th album he was inspired to come up with “Pet Sounds” to answer and match or better the Beatles.

The Beatles song ” Here There and Everywhere” from their next album, “Revolver”, impressed Wilson so much that he sat at his grand piano in his sand tray (that was in his living room) and came up with “God Only Knows”.

Yes that’s right, Brian Wilson had a sand tray in his living room where he put his piano.

Brian Wilson

He said he wanted to feel the joy that children feel at the beach while he was composing.

When the Beatles heard “Pet Sounds” they in turn were inspired to go one better again so they answered with “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

Interestingly “Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” ranked “Sgt Peppers” at no 1 and then “Pet Sounds” at no 2 because of the influence it had on “Sgt Peppers”.

If you’d like the tablature for my arrangement of “God Only Knows” let me know

Steve

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