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Author Topic: Was "God Only Knows" ever banned?  (Read 4491 times)
alfienoakes101
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« on: February 23, 2006, 07:16:11 AM »

Hi.

I'm currently researching a TV documentary about religion and popular music. Having read several Beach Boys biographies, I've got the idea into my head that, not only was "God Only Knows" the first pop single to use the word "God" in a secular context, but that it was banned in some places.

Can anyone confirm this? Even better would be if you could point me in the direction of some documented evidence. I'm just not sure whether anyone publically banned it, or whether this is just one explanation for why it wasn't as big a hit as might have been expected.

Cheers.
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2006, 10:34:56 AM »

In Memphis, the local top 40 wouldn't play GOK when it was out on a single in '66, only WIBN. Oddly enough, a few years later GOK started getting airplay there as an oldie. Go fig....
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Reverend Joshua Sloane
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2006, 11:39:12 AM »

It's like banning a church hymn though. There's nothing insulting in the song by use of the word. If anything it could be considered a suicide song in some ways which is more a reason to ban than the word "God". By today's standards, the song is lightweight and fluffy language wise compared to all the other potty-mouths in the business.
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Aegir
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2006, 12:00:14 PM »

Could it be the whole "using the Lord's name in vain" thing, maybe?
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Jason
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2006, 12:01:52 PM »

goshdarn, man. Omigod man!
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Wirestone
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2006, 12:36:01 PM »

I very much doubt that "God Only Knows" was the first secular / pop tune to use the word "God." Brian says that all the time, but I think he's full of it. I would doubt the song was that controversial, either. The song doesn't even use the word "God" in a religious context -- just as one word in a cliche that serves the chorus.
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2006, 12:42:17 PM »

Using god in the phrase "god only knows" isn't "taking the lord's name in vain."  I've heard plenty of clergy types say that kind of thing, so I think it's ok.
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Jason
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2006, 12:45:03 PM »

f*** the clergy types. Where's that religion thread? Gotta bump that motherfucker.
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Reverend Joshua Sloane
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2006, 12:46:46 PM »

I'd put my foot down and say that the song itself is more spiritual than many a typical religious hymn. They could play this song in a Church and nobody would complain. 
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Ron
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2006, 02:12:11 PM »

I think if you used the phrase "God Only Knows", technically, that WOULD be taking the lord's name in vain, in most instances... I.E., basically taking his name in vain is when you say his name, but don't mean to actually address or talk about him.  You're only saying his name for your own benefit, for your vanity.

For instance, I drive the wrong way down a one way street... then go 'God Only Knows Why I Didn't See That Sign".. well, I'm not really thinking about God right now or talking about his wisdom or whatever, I'm just saying his name to color my language up and have a good expression to say.  That's vanity.

However, in the case of this particular song, I think Brian does a good job of actually making the cliche mean something.  He literally is talking about God and it's such an innocent sweet expression of love for someone that it most certainly isn't taking the lords name in vain. 
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earcandy
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2006, 02:44:34 AM »

http://www.geocities.com/surfbored_1974/petsoundsban.htm
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alfienoakes101
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2006, 04:59:59 AM »

In Memphis, the local top 40 wouldn't play GOK when it was out on a single in '66, only WIBN. Oddly enough, a few years later GOK started getting airplay there as an oldie. Go fig....

Thanks for that - I'll look into it. Any references to this would be gratefully received, as would any other instances of its banning.

Cheers.
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Sir Rob
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2006, 06:42:14 AM »

Well it's a good job they didn't call it 'Allah Only Knows'.  Then there would have been trouble!   Grin
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earcandy
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2006, 10:22:27 AM »

Well it's a good job they didn't call it 'Allah Only Knows'.  Then there would have been trouble!   Grin

obscure Iranian 45rpm from 1966...

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LaurieBiagini
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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2006, 10:27:34 AM »

Brilliant, as always!
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earcandy
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2006, 10:39:29 AM »

Actually, if it was 1966 in Iran, it would have been "Shah Only Knows".

Supposedly, the Persian is correct...I used an on-line translator. Of course it might lose something in translation like the recent Turkish movie poster for "Brokeback mountain"!
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halleluwah
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2006, 04:21:03 PM »

I very much doubt that "God Only Knows" was the first secular / pop tune to use the word "God." Brian says that all the time, but I think he's full of it.
Whenever Brian says that, I always think of Billie Holliday's "God Bless the Child," which was certainly years before GOK.
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alfienoakes101
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2006, 05:27:18 PM »

Thanks so much for your contributions so far, but I'm still no nearer to finding any concrete evidence of "God Only Knows" being banned, by any station at all.

If anyone can think of any earlier pop songs that used the word "God" in a secular context, I'd be interested. "God Bless the Child" would probably be uncontroversial, because even though it is not a religious song, Holliday is literally suggesting that God bless the child. The phrase "God only knows" is completely secular, and could easily (though more clumsily) be replaced by "I have no idea", and is effectively a cliché. It is for that reason that the song is purported to have caused controversy, and been banned.

Any more suggestions and clues are welcome, because I've always just taken it for granted that such a ban existed.

Even if I don't find an answer, that Iranian sleeve made the question worth asking.
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jazzfascist
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« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2006, 04:15:45 AM »

The doowop group Capris recorded a song called "God Only Knows" already in 55 or 58, it was one of Marvin Gayes favourite doowop songs, don't know if that counts.

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earcandy
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« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2006, 07:15:31 AM »

Even if I don't find an answer, that Iranian sleeve made the question worth asking.

Ummm, that Iranian sleeve WAS a parody!  Just wanted to make sure you didn't think it was real!
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alfienoakes101
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« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2006, 05:07:12 AM »

Even if I don't find an answer, that Iranian sleeve made the question worth asking.

Ummm, that Iranian sleeve WAS a parody!  Just wanted to make sure you didn't think it was real!

Yes, I got the joke. Mike's turban was a bit of a giveaway.
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earcandy
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« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2006, 08:01:18 AM »

Even if I don't find an answer, that Iranian sleeve made the question worth asking.

Ummm, that Iranian sleeve WAS a parody!  Just wanted to make sure you didn't think it was real!

Yes, I got the joke. Mike's turban was a bit of a giveaway.

I was going to go a little overboard, with camels in the background and the like - but actually ran out of time, ha ha!
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Sir Rob
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« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2006, 08:45:53 AM »

Ummm, that Iranian sleeve WAS a parody!  Just wanted to make sure you didn't think it was real!

Yes, I got the joke. Mike's turban was a bit of a giveaway.
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Yeah - Mike didn't start wearing a turban until the 1970s!
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