God only knows guitar chords

The composition is known for its harmonic sophistication and extensive use of inverted chords, including third inversions such as B7/A. The first chord of the verse (D major/A) is a non-diatonic chord. The tonic chord (E major) usually only appears with the major 3rd or the 5th in the bass. The entire verse progression sounds restless and ambiguous, until the line “God only knows what I’d be without you” when the chord progression finally reaches a clear goal (A–E/G♯–F♯m7–E). This has been cited by musicologists as a good example of how lyrical meaning can be supported and enhanced by a chord progression—along with the melody hook which also provides an example of “a sense of increasing melodic energy that comes by way of the gradually ascending line”. Stephen Downes similarly named the song’s “tonal plasticity” emphasized by the disuse of authentic cadences and root-position tonics as the reason for its “expansiveness”. In musicologist Philip Lambert’s opinion, the song’s vocal counterpoint evokes the sacred traditions of a cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach or an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. Andy Gill of the post-punk band Gang of Four describes the composition: