Music from Love Actually, Part 1 – The Beach Boys and “God Only Knows”

It’s been a game of two halves, or actually a game of three thirds, but my annual viewing of the very seasonal film Love Actually, is now complete. Spotted that it was on television this week so recorded it and dipped in whenever I had a free hour or so (it’s a very long film).

love actually.png

Like just about everything this Christmas, it made me sad, but also gave me hope.

Sad, because the wonderful Alan Rickman was one of the main cast members and of course we lost him earlier this year. Realising that this film is now 13 years old, I have just worked out that he was my age when it was filmed. In terms of the conveyor belt of life, I am a fair way down the line now, and there is still so much I want to do and achieve – This shitty year of loss is taking its toll and making a lot of us really appreciate what we still have.

The hopeful part is because of Hugh Grant’s voice-over at the start of the film, which goes as follows:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world,
I think of the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.
General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed,
but I don’t see that.
It seems to me that love is everywhere.
Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy,
but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters,
husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, old friends.
When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phonecalls
from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge –
they were all messages of love.
If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion…,
love actually is all around.”

Thirteen years on and many of us are indeed feeling very gloomy about the state of the world but having just rewatched Love Actually (yet again) it does remind me that at the end of the day, love usually wins out, and we even have the wonderful Bill Nighy (playing rock and roll legend Billy Mack) to remind us of that, through the medium of song. As he points out however, it is very hard to substitute a one syllable word like love with a two syllable word like Christmas but he makes a brave attempt and ends up making it to the coveted No. 1 spot in the process, with his version of the classic Troggs‘ hit, Love Is All Around. After briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy decides that his long-suffering manager Joe is in need of affection and suggests that he and Joe simply celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn! A hilarious but very touching scene. Yes, new friends come and go, but never forget those who have been with you for the journey.

Bill Nighy is one of my favourite actors and I am constantly amazed by how he can play an aging rocker like Billy Mack one minute, and perhaps a senior civil servant or downtrodden husband the next, using exactly the same mannerisms and quirks of speech. Please God let him grace our screens for many more years to come.

The song I want to feature for this post is the one used for the closing credits of the movie, God Only Knows by The Beach Boys. Now this is one of my favourite songs and was written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher. It was released in May 1966 (very close to my favourite year for music 1967) as the eighth track on the wonderful Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds” and is of course from the baroque pop camp, of which I am so fond. The sentiments expressed in the lyrics were not specific to any God, and could be addressed to any “higher power”, being a song apparently about moving forward after loss. Well I don’t know about that because the lyrics seem to infer that moving forward would be nigh impossible. Whatever, it is still one of the most beautiful songs of the 20th century so thank you Brian and the boys for giving it to us.

God Only Knows by The Beach Boys:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I think it’s pretty obvious, don’t you?

God Only Knows Lyrics
(Song by Brian Wilson/Tony Asher)

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you
If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

14 thoughts on “Music from Love Actually, Part 1 – The Beach Boys and “God Only Knows””

  1. I know nothing of baroque pop, but “God Only Knows” is possibly the finest love song in the history of this planet. The Wilson Brothers finest 2 minutes 45 seconds (approximately).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you could be right – I hadn’t heard of baroque pop/rock until this year and of all the sub-genres, along with orchestral pop, it is the one I warm to most. Going to revisit the music of 1967 next year as, unbelievably, we are now 50 years on from that golden age!

      Merry Christmas.


  2. Aww, Alyson, I’m a wee bit tipsy (following your lead?! 😉 – I’ve been out all day visiting an elderly relative just out of hospital – lots of travelling, lots of time for reflection – one of those poignant visits – and yes, it is indeed obvious what it’s all about!
    I’ve never seen the whole of Love Actually – it didn’t really appeal to me but maybe I should be more open minded when it comes to films- however I absolutely agree that Bill Nighy does indeed seem to be brilliant at whatever role he takes on. I particularly enjoyed him in Still Crazy, do you know it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi C – To be honest, since I discovered “tipsy blogging” I rarely blog without a glass by my side – Somehow it makes the writing process a lot easier!

      If you enjoyed Still Crazy (yes I have seen it and loved it) you would enjoy Bill Nighy in Love Actually as he plays a very similar character. As for Love Actually, I think I’m a bit of an old romantic so it is one of my favourite films.

      Yes – I think many of us this year have been doing an awful lot more reflection that is usual (or maybe healthy) but just been one of those kind of years. Enjoy Christmas week. I am only now really getting into the swing of it – Don’t like how it seems to start so early nowadays so you’re all Christmased-out by the time the big day comes around.


  3. “God Only Knows” is my favourite “serious” Beach Boys tune, though I also like a few of the early songs that are laden with adolescent memories, “Be True To Your School”, “Fun, Fun, Fun”, etc.

    Why didn’t this occur to me? Maybe writing for my blog has been more difficult because I haven’t been tippling at the computer! I must try it when I start posting again in January! (Of course, in my case, it might very well lead to even more gibberish.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes a truly lovely song and very much one of my favourites – Nearly 1967 but not quite.

      As for the tipsy blogging – give it a try sometime but just one glass or else it could be a disaster! Funnily enough whenever we go to quiz nights we always do better when we have a few drinks at the same time. Not that I’m condoning irresponsible drinking or anything but it does get the creative juices going if you’re suffering a bout of writer’s block!


      1. Hi Alyson,
        I read your comment over at CC’s place and I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling a little down this season. Truly malevolent forces are at work around the world, and I’m sure that is contributing in no small way. When this kind of gloom overtakes me (I admit that I’m a classic wallower), turning to one or more of my varied interests has always seemed to help. They often manage to, temporarily, take me to a place that is out of reach of this reality. Everyone’s different, I know, but I hope the activities that give you the greatest pleasure will bring you that kind of relief, too.

        Today, for example, I read a couple of short stories by 19th century English author, Wilkie Collins, that were so well-written and fantastical that I was cheered immensely – “A Terribly Strange Bed” and “The Devil’s Spectacles.” (I’ll understand if you’re rolling your eyes now!) My blog used to be great for dispelling the “blue meanies,” but over the past year I just haven’t been able to get back on track with it. You’ve developed a very interesting, uniquely personal approach to WIAAA and your audience is growing, so hopefully you’ll be inspired to keep writing.

        Anyway, I’ll probably regret writing this unusually personal (for me) comment tomorrow, but I do hope you feel lots better over the holidays. (It’s like finding yourself on a terrifying ride on the midway – what can you do but hold on for dear life until it’s over.) 😉

        By the way, Bill Nighy was very effective as Rufus Scrimgeour in ‘Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows.’ I’d love to hear his performance as Samwise Gamgee in BBC Radio’s ‘Lord of the Ring’s’ too.


        1. Thanks Marie – Great to have personal comments so thank you – Off to bed now as very late now here. If you thought this post made me seem down you should read the one I’ve just posted! Got it out of my system now though. Will be in touch. x


  4. One of the all-time best songs, for sure. I love the deceptiveness of the opening lines in both verses, which sound negative at first: “I may not always love you” and “If you should ever leave me”, but then turn out to be parts of beautiful love dedications.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – a beautiful love dedication and one of my favourite songs. Thanks for dropping by Ovidiu and looking forward to checking out your Every No 1 blog as you are now working back from 1959 – I have really enjoyed revisiting music from the ’60s this year as even I was too young for it back then. Some absolute classics. Don’t know how you have time for all these great blogs as well as making time for your studies? Then again how do any of us find the time – It’s a labour of love! I have told some of my blogging buddies about your No 1s blog and they will be checking in.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Sorry to hear that but totally understand. I am going to trawl through the charts of 1967 next year though as its 50 years on – some great stuff that has really stood the test of time (that didn’t get anywhere near a No 1 slot).

          Liked by 1 person

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