‘I lost it, because it’s very emotional’: A Beach Boys cover song moves the Beatles’ Paul McCartney to tears

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Even Paul McCartney has his fanboy moments. Joining together with Brian Wilson to sing the Beach Boys’ legendary “God Only Knows,” it turns out, was one of them.

The occasion was 2002’s Adopt-A-Minefield benefit, held at Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel. McCartney — who has said they he thinks this key Pet Sounds track is the best song ever composed — was emotional from the start, long before the two took the stage.

He tells Ron Wood, in this newly uploaded clip, that as their voices intertwined at soundcheck, “I lost it.”

Fast forward nearly five decades, and both classic-rock legends have albums in the works. McCartney’s New is due in October 2013, while Wilson is in the studio with fellow Beach Boys alumni like Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin and David Marks, among others.

McCartney, as he did when he inducted Wilson into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000, marvels over the power of lyrics and notes to produce such a visceral response. “Music, it’s only little vibrations, little words and little things,” he says. “But it has this powerful effect.”

Pet Sounds, it’s been said, spurred McCartney and the Beatles toward Sgt. Pepper. Even today, songs like “God Only Knows” still mean a great deal to McCartney.

“We were doing a benefit together, and I was OK on the actual performance,” McCartney remembers. “I held it together. But at the soundcheck I lost it, because it’s very emotional, this song, I find it. I can sit and think ‘Oh my God, I’m singing it with Brian.’ It just got me. I couldn’t do it.”

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