“It’s a really, really great song,” said Paul McCartney. “It’s a big favorite of mine.”
“God Only Knows” is the song that corroborates the impression made by almost all that precedes it on Pet Sounds. It confirms what you suspected as you listened to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Sloop John B,” and to “You Still Believe in Me” and “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”—that Pet Sounds is extraordinary.
“Really, really great” doesn’t quite say it, though such acknowledgment from McCartney is high praise. “God Only Knows” is sublime. As in “transcendent” and “awe-inspiring.” If you hear it, and ponder it as you let it engulf you, you begin to understand the depth of its statement, especially in this context. And its sense of wonder begins with the lyric and the invocation of the word “God.”
It's the least surprising thing in the world that a nameless Hollywood executive had this reaction to Callie Khouri's script for Thelma & Louise. It could be a line from the movie itself — there's no shortage of men with that attitude. (Thelma and Louise pull one of them over and blow up his truck.) It's more surprising that, in a town where million-dollar business is shaped by such opinions, the movie ever got made.
Becky Aikman's Off the Cliff is subtitled How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge. That sounds like hyperbole, except that this oral history crackles with frustration on all sides. Khouri bristled at the workplace chauvinism in music videos (which inspired her to write a script about fighting back); Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were fed up with Hollywood misogyny; Ridley Scott bristled that Khouri didn't fully trust him with her script; the marketing department panicked at selling a two-woman film that begins as a weekend romp and ends with its vigilante heroines driving into the Grand Canyon.
It’s peak wedding season, and Ada Calhoun’s “Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give” is a fine gift to tuck between the negligees and garter belts at the more literary bride’s shower. A breezy, warm-hearted meditation on the nature of matrimony, the book began as a “Modern Love” column in the New York Times. Like many of the essays that appear there, the chapters, with titles such as “The Boring Parts” and “The Truth About Soul Mates,” are designed to encourage readers’ ruminations about their own triumphs and hardships in love.