“Something” was issued as a double A-side single with “Come Together” during the early fall of 1969. It was the only George composition to be issued as an A side.
The single reached number one on the Billboard magazine Pop Singles Chart for one week. “Come Together” was named the number one song in the United States and “Something” peaked at number three.
George Harrison was an exceptional songwriter, “Something” is now recognized as not only a classic Beatles song but as one of the memorable songs in rock history. It has been covered by close to 200 artists. George said his favorite version was the one by James Brown.
“Something” is described as a love song to Pattie Boyd, George’s first wife, although Harrison offered alternative sources of inspiration in later interviews. Due to the difficulty he faced in getting more than two of his compositions onto each Beatles album, Harrison first offered the song to Joe Cocker. As recorded by the Beatles, the track features a guitar solo that several music critics identify among Harrison’s finest playing. The song also drew praise from the other Beatles and their producer, George Martin, with Lennon stating that it was the best song on Abbey Road.The promotional film for the single combined footage of each of the Beatles with his respective wife, reflecting the estrangement in the band during the months preceding their break-up in April 1970. George subsequently performed the song at his Concert for Bangladesh shows in 1971 and throughout the two tours he made as a solo artist.
George Harrison began writing “Something” in September 1968, during a session for the Beatles’ self-titled double album, also known as “the White Album”.
George first introduced “Something” at a Beatles session on 19 September 1968, when he played it to George Martin’s stand-in as producer of The Beatles, Chris Thomas, while the latter was working out the harpsichord part for Harrison’s track “Piggies”. Despite Thomas’s enthusiasm for the new composition, Harrison chose to focus on “Piggies”. He told Thomas that he intended to offer “Something” to singer Jackie Lomax, whose debut album Harrison was producing for Apple Records. “Something” was not among the tracks released on Lomax’s album, however,much of which was recorded in Los Angeles following the completion of the White Album.
The group recorded “Something” on 16 April before Harrison decided to redo the song, a new basic track for which was then completed at Abbey Road on 2 May. The line-up was Harrison on Leslie-effected rhythm guitar, Lennon on piano, McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, and guest musician Billy Preston playing Hammond organ. On 5 May, at Olympic Sound Studios, McCartney re-recorded his bass part and Harrison added lead guitar. At this point, the song ran to eight minutes, due to the inclusion of an extended, jam-like coda led by Lennon’s piano.
After taking a break from recording, the band returned to “Something” on 11 July, when George overdubbed what would turn out to be a temporary vocal. With the resulting reduction mix, much of the coda, along with almost all of Lennon’s playing on the main part of the song, was cut from the recording. The piano can be heard only in the middle eight, specifically during the descending run that follows each pair of “I don’t know” vocal lines. On 16 July, George recorded a new vocal, with McCartney overdubbing his harmony vocal over the middle eight and Starr adding both a second hi-hat part and a cymbal.
Following another reduction mix, at which point the remainder of the coda was excised from the track, Martin-arranged string orchestration was overdubbed on 15 August, as George, working in the adjacent studio at Abbey Road, re-recorded his lead guitar part live.
John considered “Something” to be the best song on the album. Having ensured that “Old Brown Shoe” was chosen as the B-side for the Beatles’ single “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, according to his later recollection, John now pushed Allen Klein to release “Something” as a single from Abbey Road. Coupled with “Come Together”, the single was issued on 6 October in America (as Apple 2654) and 31 October in Britain (as Apple R5814).
The release marked the first time that a George composition had been afforded A-side treatment on a Beatles single, as well as the only time during their career that a single was issued in the UK featuring tracks already available on an album. Following the Beatles’ break-up in April 1970, George Harrison’s ascendancy as a songwriter would continue with his triple album All Things Must Pass, building on the promise of White Album tracks such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and his two contributions to Abbey Road.