The greatest Pop song yet written and recorded.


This thread is an offshoot and was inspired by @mahgister’s wonderful thread "Interesting videos about sounds and music." I made a couple of contributions to that thread, recommending a video recorded quite a few years ago by (I believe) a music teacher, who sits at his keyboard while explaining and demonstrating the construction of the utterly majestic "God Only Knows", written by Brian Wilson (music) and Tony Asher (lyrics), recorded by The Beach Boys (vocals) and the L.A. studio musicians who comprised the legendary Wrecking Crew (instruments), the song found on the Pet Sounds album.

In my posts, I made the case for the highly sophisticated and incredibly brilliant chord progressions, modulations (key changes), and use of inversion (playing a bass note below the tonic of the chord being played on the piano) in the song’s composition. So when the video below appeared when I just jumped onto YouTube, it’s title really caught my eye. It is entitled "Exploring The Mythical Chords Of "God Only Knows"." Brian is well known for his harmony vocal arrangements, but that’s just the icing on the cake; the song itself is in it’s chords and melody. Some of the chord sequences in "God Only Knows" bring me to tears. Add to that the vocal harmonies---many sung in counterpoint---and Carl Wilson's angelic singing of the melody, and you have an absolute masterpiece of a song.

I have long considered "God Only Knows" my favorite song, and imo the "best" song ever written. I’m not alone in that; Paul McCartney has stated he feels the same. I could have added this video to @mahgister’s thread, but I believe the song and it’s appreciation warrant it’s own thread. Watch and listen to this video (and the one I posted in mahgister’s thread), give the song a new listen, and see if you don’t agree with Paul and I. 😉




The greatest pop song written and recorded ....  Lots of interesting opinions here - but I think the answer to this question was not even mentioned !  (Unless I missed it in this lengthy thread ! ).....

The greatest pop song one could argue is the song that has remained on the top 40 charts the longest - meaning it resonated with the largest group of music fans.  It is:   

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey.  It holds the record for the most weeks in the Top 40 history with 86 weeks.   86 weeks !!!   

FYI - she has also earned more than $50 million in royalties for this single song.  And no matter your age, religion, or musical taste, the song is a pop masterpiece.


My turn...

1  Imagine  John Lennon

2  No Regrets  Tom Rush

3  Triad  Jefferson Airplane (think David Crosby wrote it)

4  Don't Make Me Dream About You  Chris Isaak

They're all tied for first in my estimation

Whiter Shade of Pale—Procol Harem,,lyrics and that


And Your Bird Can Sing—Beatles,,,my favorite Beatles song

I’ll think of more shortly.  Long list when other’s mention a good one  


@tylermunns: A songwriter/bandmate and I discovered Randy Newman’s first album through Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson. Because of Van’s work with Brian on the Smile recordings (I discovered the Smiley Smile album in early-’68, and turned him on to it. He became as obsessed with it as I), we got his debut album (Song Cycle, an amazing piece of work) as soon as we learned of it (it was released in late-’67). Listening to Song Cycle on acid is an experience unlike any other. 😉

Song Cycle opens with "Vine Street", a song credited on the album’s back cover to R. Newman (he is credited with the arrangement as well), and a little investigation revealed the R to be Randy. Van performs "Vine Street" in a somewhat surrealistic manner, so I didn’t know what to expect when I got Randy’s 1968 s/t debut album (it was released with two different covers; I of course have both 😉). The album credits production to Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker, so getting it was a no-brainer. The album was engineered by Lee Herschberg, so it sounds great.

What a breathe of fresh air! In the midst of psychedelic horsesh*t, power trios (with which I was growing tired), and album side-long jams, here was an album of superb two and three minute long songs, recorded not with a Rock band, but an orchestra. Randy’s vocal abilities were obviously limited, but his delivery served the songs well enough. I became a life-long fan, though I wasn’t happy when he hired the members of Toto to record with him. I have his entire catalogue, Good Old Boys being a particular favorite. It was through Randy’s albums that I first became aware of Jim Keltner, Randy’s preferred drummer (he is also on Maria Muldaur’s 1973 solo debut, another favorite album of mine).


My original US copy of Song Cycle is one of my more cherished records.  
Was re-watching the Twin Peaks series (again) the other day and whaddya know…I always forget Van Dyke Parks has a small role in season 2 (attorney in courtroom scene).
Van Dyke Park’s version of “Vine Street” is awesome but no version of that song holds a candle to Harry Nilsson’s version as track 1 on the Nilsson Sings Newman LP. 
Like the Van Dyke Parks version, it has a small mini-song unrelated to “Vine Street” open the LP and segues into “Vine Street.”  
Harry proceeds to weave a tapestry of some of the most awe-inspiring, exquisite vocal overdub arrangements you’ll ever hear, accompanied by only Randy himself on the piano.  
I could provide a list similar in length (and similar in musical quality - arguably superior) to the huge Carol King one I posted earlier regarding the number of knockout songs Randy wrote in the ‘60s. If I get the gumption, maybe I will…