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Tag Archives GEORGE HARRISON

ON THIS DAY: US SINGLE RELEASE: ‘SOMETHING’/’COME TOGETHER’ (1969)

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“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.[51] 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.


WHY GEORGE HARRISON HATED “WAH-WAH” AFTER PHIL SPECTOR PLAYED IT BACK TO HIM

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In 1970, All Things Must Pass, the triple album that served as the epic opening statement of his solo career, with six album sides, George rattled off one sparkling composition after another.
But George, a well-known perfectionist, didn’t love how every track turned out in the studio. He had legendary producer Phil Spector at the controls for All Things Must Pass, and Spector had his ways.

On some tracks, Spector’s “Wall of Sound” approach comes close to overwhelming George’s compositions. And that was the case with “Wah-Wah,” which George said he hated when Spector played it back to him.
If you compare George’s songs on Abbey Road (1969) to those on All Things Must Pass, the different production styles jump out. Take “Something,” the only Harrison track that went out as a Beatles single (the A-side). The production is remarkably clean, with clear vocals and guitar lines prominent in the mix.

“Wah-Wah,” by contrast, hits listeners with a wave of guitars and percussion. (Try to count the number of tambourines in there.) On the original vinyl release, the vocals struggle to break through Spector’s heavy production.
In the Martin Scorsese documentary Living in the Material World (2011), the director includes footage from an interview George gave decades later on the All Things Must Pass sessions. George recalled kicking things with rehearsals for “Wah-Wah.”

When they felt they had the track right and Spector got a complete take, George went to hear a playback. “I listened to it and I thought, ‘I hate it. It’s just so horrible,’” he recalled. And he told Spector how he felt about it right then.
In Living in the Material World, George detailed the extensive rehearsals with his band (which included Eric Clapton). “We worked over and over on the songs in the studio so everyone got the right routine,” George recalled. And he got “Wah-Wah” sounding great, with “all this nice acoustics and piano, and no echo on anything.”

George recalled working on the track for hours before going in for a playback. “Then in the control room … Phil was in there with the engineer, making it sound like [laughs], you know…this noise.” Clapton disagreed at the time, telling George he loved the way it sounded.

“I said, ‘Well, you can have it on your album, then,’” George told his friend. But “Wah-Wah” didn’t change all that much from that day. George had more than 20 songs ahead of him on All Things Must Pass. Between writing, arranging, performing, and producing the record, he couldn’t go to war over the first track.

cheatsheet


MONTY PYTHON STAR TERRY GILLIAM CREDITS GEORGE HARRISON FOR “SAVING” HIS MOVIE CAREER

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George Harrison became an honorary member of Monty Python after the Beatles split, according to Terry Gilliam.

George, who died in 2001, struck up an unlikely friendship with the trailblazing British comedy troupe, made up of Terry, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman and Terry Jones, and even bankrolled their most famous film, 1979’s Life of Brian.

‘He was a joy,’ Terry said. ‘With George, he’s always referred to as the “quiet Beatle” – not at all! Just a jabber mouth. He was incredibly funny, that’s the other side that people aren’t aware of. They go “ohhh spiritual”. No, he was incredibly funny and we just had a great time. ‘Because I think he was so excited… the Beatles had broken up and there was Python, so he kind of joined another group. He was always a joiner, clearly, he went on to the Traveling Wilburys (with Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty).’

George paused his music career to become a movie producer in order to get the comedy classic made, setting up HandMade Films with business partner Denis O’Brien and mortgaging his house just to ensure Brian was financed after original backers EMI Films pulled out a week before filming was scheduled to begin.

Terry and George went on to forge a strong working relationship through HandMade Films, which also made his feature Time Bandits, as well as Withnail and I and Shanghai Surprise, among many others. And the Brazil filmmaker is adamant he wouldn’t have the career he’s had without the help of his friend. ‘I wouldn’t be here talking to you if it wasn’t for HandMade films,” the Oscar nominee declared. ‘The world wouldn’t have Time Bandit, A Private Function. It wouldn’t have any of these things… It’s very simple. To have a Beatle as a patron is what you need in life, it really was. I mean George stepped in and saved our a**es basically.

‘We were never respected I don’t think within the industry. I remember there was a book written by (film critic) Alexander Walker in the ‘80s, a history of British cinema; we were a footnote.’ The HandMade Films story is told in documentary An Accidental Studio, which charts the early years of the revolutionary production company. An Accidental Studio is on AMC on 15 September at 7.10pm.


THE CLASSIC SONG GEORGE HARRISON WROTE IN 1969

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In 1969, George Harrison would write one of the Beatles greatest songs.
These days, by around 1969, being a member of the Fab Four was a gruelling task with legal disputes, business issues and a general sense of impending pressure.

After a particularly gruelling time, George wrote one of his most beloved songs, Abbey Road’s ‘Here Comes The Sun’. He headed to Clapton’s house in Ewhurst in Surrey. In The Beatles’ Anthology, George picks up the story, “‘Here Comes The Sun’ was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘Sign this’ and ‘Sign that’.”

“Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever; by the time spring comes you really deserve it,” he added. “So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go and see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote ‘Here Comes The Sun’.”

Speaking at the time, George also suggests the song has a kindred soul in ‘If I Needed Someone’ and The Byrds song ‘Bells of Rhymeney’: “It was written on a nice sunny day this early summer, in Eric Clapton’s garden. We’d been through hell with business, and on that day I just felt as though I was sagging off, like from school, it was like that. I just didn’t come in one day. And just the release of being in the sun and it was just a really nice day. And that song just came. It’s a bit like If I Needed Someone, you know, like that basic sort of riff going through it is the same as all those ‘Bells Of Rhymney’ sort of Byrd-type things.”

The poetry of the moment is captured in George’s songwriting and sees the guitarist expertly contain the joy of spring and sunshine.

In the studio, the song would use a then-recent invention from Robert Moog—the synthesiser. Speaking in Anthology, George said of the choice: “I first heard about the Moog synthesiser in America. I had to have mine made specially because Mr Moog had only just invented it. It was enormous, with hundreds of jackplugs and two keyboards.”

“But it was one thing having one, and another trying to make it work,” he continued. “There wasn’t an instruction manual, and even if there had been it would probably have been a couple of thousand pages long. I don’t think even Mr Moog knew how to get music out of it; it was more of a technical thing. When you listen to the sounds on songs like ‘Here Comes The Sun’, it does do some good things, but they’re all very kind of infant sounds.”