A few days ago, one of my all-time favorite franchises, BBC, released a cover of “God Only Knows” originally recorded by The Beach Boys. “Cool….but, so what?” You may be asking. The moral of this (short) story is BBC Music pulled in 29 musicians from radically different backgrounds to collaborate on one song by one of the most influential bands of the past century; that’s what!
The list of names literally made me yell “Hell yeah!” as the parade of musicians filtered through the incredibly popular Youtube video playing on my screen. I don’t see the value in listing off every single person that flew by when you could just go watch the video (as you should), but, some of the notable appearances (at least to me) are Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Dave Grohl, Jamie Cullum, Brian May and, of course, one of the Beach Boys and the composer of the original song, Brian Wilson.
What really made this re-imagining of “God Only Knows” interesting was the fact that BBC Music pulled no punches in the diversity of musicians who came together to be a part of the extravaganza. What this says to me is that major names in the music industry know that music, of any “genre,” of any style, can speak volumes to you, the listener, and should not be held against the common trappings of genre lines.
Those lines do nothing but expose different emotional responses in the listener. What I mean is, our global culture of music tends to dictate that rock and roll is rock and roll; rap is rap and country is country. Not even close. All music is pitch and rhythm. That’s it. The capacity of those sounds to evoke an emotional response, triggered by associations in the listener’s brain, is why we all like the music we like and why a lot of us are able to say that we have a “favorite” band.
With that being said, it may be no wonder why this collaboration is so inspiring. Take, for example, Dave Grohl. The Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters front man is right there alongside groups like One Direction and pop stars like Kylie Minogue, singing on a song that is seemingly outside of his typical M.O. What these musicians are exemplifying, which I believe echoes through the chorus/title of the song, is the impact that music has had on all of their lives.
“God only knows what I’d be without you” – the lyrics are still ringing in my ears as I realize how instrumental (pun intended) music has been, even just in my own life. This song, including all of these amazing musicians, is saying, is pleading, with you to be yourself and allow the language and love of music help you communicate with others who also love music. Because, like genre lines, the only differences between us, as humans, are the labels we use to describe one another. BBC Music and a venerable list of international musicians seem to know this and want you to know it, too. So, do yourself a favor and go watch the new video from BBC Music for “God Only Knows.” You may just hear something new that you’ve never heard before.
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