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“ISN´T IT A PITY” : THE STORY BEHIND THE GEORGE HARRISON SONG

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‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is George Harrison’s heartfelt plea for harmony.
By the time that George Harrison finally put “Isn’t It A Pity” on tape, the song was already four years old. In mid-1970, as he collated material for what would become his triple-album masterpiece, All Things Must Pass, he dipped into the stockpile of songs he’d amassed that The Beatles had declined, and this one, in particular, had been in reserve for some time.

Though George likely developed the words and music over time, it’s said that the song dates back to 1966 and was first presented to the group during the making of Revolver. While some have suggested that it was inspired by his wife, Pattie, given that they only got married that January, perhaps it would have been premature to imagine their union had inspired such emotional turmoil.
“‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is about whenever a relationship hits a down point,” Harrison confirmed in his autobiography, I Me Mine. “Instead of whatever other people do (like breaking each other’s jaws) I wrote a song. It was a chance to realize that if I felt somebody had let me down, then there’s a good chance I was letting someone else down. We all tend to break each other’s hearts, taking and not giving back.”
“Isn’t It A Pity” was brought up again in 1969 during the Get Back sessions, but again it was vetoed. A year later, the song had taken on an entirely new meaning – its opening lines “Isn’t it a pity/Isn’t it a shame/How we break each other’s hearts/And cause each other pain” resonating deeper in the wake of The Beatles’ acrimonious split.

Famed producer Phil Spector was recruited to helm the All Things Must Pass sessions, and at first, his quest to capture his trademark towering “wall of sound” was reflected in George’s enthusiasm for the newfound freedom to play with whomever he wanted – “a breath of fresh air,” he called it.

Thus, when work began on “Isn’t It A Pity,” there were a number of musicians present at Abbey Road Studios. Bassist Klaus Voormann even remembers some unwanted visitors. “One time a crazy guy came in with a big robe on,” he remembered, “like an Elvis fan and the Maharishi – he had all these things in his head, and he came into the studio, and somebody had to push him out!” The growing numbers and ensuing chaos did not, however, extend far beyond “Isn’t It A Pity.” “It was a little overdone,” Klaus admitted. “But George noticed that, and that’s why some of the sessions get a little more calm.”

The first version that appears on the album is a seven-minute take, which starts with a plaintive piano motif that underpins the first verse, then builds up with sweeping orchestration as the second verse opens up to address, like many of his songs do, a more universal love: “But how do I explain,” George questions, “When not too many people/Can see we’re all the same.” It’s rounded off by a glorious extended coda adorned with George’s gorgeous slide guitar and a rousing “na-na-na” vocal refrain that immediately recalls “Hey Jude.”

The song was later revisited – this time with Eric Clapton playing on a slower version, made more poignant by its somewhat stripped-back arrangement. “It was hard to record with a lot of people,” Alan White said, “but with a smaller group you could get the feel out of the song better.”
Both songs are superlative meditations on spiritual salvation, warning of the ultimate isolation of those too self-centered to care about someone else. “Their eyes can’t hope to see,” George sings, “The beauty that surrounds them.”

Released on November 23rd as a double A-side with “My Sweet Lord,” the longer “Isn’t It A Pity” topped the US singles chart for a month, driving sales of All Things Must Pass – which followed four days later – and sending it to a similar position, substantially eclipsing John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, which followed in December.

In the years since, a number of diverse artists have picked up on the song’s profundity and covered it – Nina Simone’s version made an impact on its author – while Eric Clapton, who names “Isn’t It A Pity” as his favorite George song, shared vocal duties on it with Billy Preston at the 2002 Concert For George tribute.

Today, with mental health awareness and anti-discrimination all the more prevalent, the song’s message of empathy resounds clearer than ever. “It’s just an observation of how society and myself were or are,” George revealed. “We take each other for granted, and forget to give back. That was really all it was about.”

Pre-order the All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary Edition.

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GEORGE HARRISON’S MERCEDES-BENZ 600 FOR SALE

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This majestic 1967 Mercedes-Benz 600 which counts The Beatles’ George Harrison as a former owner is for sale.
It is currently being offered for sale with Collecting Cars in an online auction that runs until Tuesday 27 July 2021 at 7:05pm.

Then it’s revealed that two Aston Martins, one delivered new to Queen’s Roger Taylor the other once in the collection of Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay, are going under the hammer.

GEORGE HARRISON – “COSMIC EMPIRE” NEW LYRIC VIDEO

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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of George Harrison’s classic solo album, All Things Must Pass is celebrated with a suite of new releases including a stunning new mix of the classic album by Grammy Award-winning mixer/engineer Paul Hicks, overseen by executive producer Dhani Harrison.

Executive Producer: Dhani Harrison and David Zonshine
Directed by Lucy Dawkins and Tom Readdy at Yes Please Productions
Creative Director and Commissioner: Kelly Mahan

George’s “Cosmic Empire (Day 2 Demo)”, a previously unreleased demo, is premiering alongside a new lyric video for the track. This demo, as well as many more previously unreleased recordings will be available in the 50th anniversary releases of All Things Must Pass.

Video: HERE.

PRE-ORDER NOWHERE & HERE


UNCUT : GEORGE HARRISON /ISSUE JULY 2021

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in the latest issue of Uncut, George Harrison’s former friend, flatmate and collaborator remembers a “cocky little boy” of 17.

The new issue of Uncut includes a candid interview with Klaus Voormann about his encounter with a 17-year-old George Harrison, during The Beatles’ formative residencies in Hamburg. The German artist and Plastic Ono Band member tells Graeme Thomson tales involving fish finger diets, late-night phone calls from “Herr Schnitzel”, and the making of George’s very own masterpiece…

The first time I saw George he was only 17 years of age. He was very different to how he was later. He was a cocky little boy! This band he was with was completely unknown. It was the autumn of 1960. In this club in Hamburg, the Kaiserkeller, they played for people to dance. George was singing all those funny songs, which he did later on a little bit, when he sat around and played ukulele. He was into songs like I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am, singing it all cockney. He would sing all those Eddie Cochran numbers too, like Twenty Flight Rock.

It took some time to get to know them. We had gone to concerts and jazz clubs, but this scene was completely new to us. We went many times. They had started looking over to us – “There they are again, those Existentialists!” – and we were looking at the stage all the time, seeing all the details. “Look at George, he’s got big ears, hasn’t he! And he has funny teeth – he has those Dracula teeth!”

They were talking on stage in English and our English was not so hot. Eventually [Astrid and Jürgen] said to me, “Klaus, you speak English. Why don’t you make contact so we can meet them?”

John was standing by the stage, and I went over and took the record cover I had designed with me, which was Walk… Don’t Run – by The Typhoons, not The Ventures. I showed it to John, and he said, “Go to Stuart, he’s the artistic one.” Because John was the rock’n’roller, he didn’t want anything to do with art. So I went over to Stuart [Sutcliffe] and we got on like the world on fire. It was amazing, we talked about everything. It was only natural then that in the breaks between shows we went out with Stuart and the others came along, and we’d watch them eat their cornflakes.

We became friends. All of them were very much into music. Rock and roll was the most important thing. The list of songs they were able to play was the largest of all the bands in Hamburg. They were so busy and eager, listening to the records again and again until they got it down. At this stage, all you could see is that they played those songs really well. They were a great rock and roll band, with three great voices. I didn’t know anything about them writing songs, that came much, much later.