Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'll Make You So Sure About It

It's undeniable. God Only Knows is easily one of the most brilliant tunes ever released in the Too Poppy genre. Lovely harmonies, sweet sentiment, gooey in all the right places - just an all-around fantastic aural experience. The generations since have shown just how influential this one song has been with so many trying so desperately to write and record their own God Only Knows. Some come close. Most don't.

And others simply record their own cover version. Let's not kid ourselves, this is an incredibly risky move. Imitation may be sincerely flattering, but what good is a cover unless it has something special or unique to offer?

Brandon Schott is the latest to give it a go and not surprisingly we're the better of for it. As you'd expect, his version is no radical rearrangement, but the gift that Brandon gives in his music and especially in this cover is a certain intimacy and even vulnerability that let's us in and encourages us to experience the brilliant song from a slightly different perspective. For those of us familiar with Brandon's work, you're not surprised the musicianship is top-notch. He slows the tune down just enough for us to notice and give it new consideration. And for a song so revered for its harmonies that envelope the listener, Brandon boldly keeps them in check. The most obvious covers overwhelm us and try to outdo the original's harmonies. Brandon has more respect for the song itself and this interpretation challenges us to experience it with a fresh set of ears. Of course the killer moment comes when his son Tyler breaks in near the end: "...what I'd be without you...!" As any parent will tell you, this transcends the song to a completely new level.

Brandon Schott's proves God Only Knows is one of those rarities that is of its time and completely timeless. Well done.

I must not neglect to mention God Only Knows is backed with a cover of Strawberry Fields Forever! Strawberry Fields Forever is certainly of its time and is a bit too weird to be as universal as God Only Knows, but Brandon gives it a similar special treatment. As any Beatles nut as done throughout the years, I've dissected the song to dig deeper for understanding or revelation, which is its beauty - it never gives it all away. By making it downright haunting, Brandon's take adds a whole new element that has me excited to revisit the original and its many takes seeking a similar feel.

The Beach Boys and The Beatles - give Brandon credit for tackling both on one single and for giving us an entirely new appreciation for both the brilliance of the original songs and the gift of Brandon's musical voice.

God Only Knows b/w Strawberry Fields Forever is out today via iTunes.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I'm going to go get the new release on iTunes today! -W

Anonymous said...

Just listened to it. Brilliant! Love the instrumentation!

My hmphs said...

It took me a while to appreciate "God Only Knows" because my first exposure to it was David Bowie's wretched version of it on "Tonight." But one day, the light came on while listening to the Beach Boys' version, and in 3 minutes, Brian Wilson went from the lead singer of a surfer band to a brilliant pop musician.