George would continue to find some room on forthcoming releases and, following ‘Taxman’s placement on Revolver, was readying another track for the upcoming new record.
“Sgt Pepper was the one album where things were done slightly differently,” he said in Anthology. “A lot of the time…we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process — just little parts and then overdubbing.” It was misaligned with George’s newfound spiritualism; having just returned from six weeks in India, his songwriting style was far removed from a costumed concept album. “After [the India trip], everything else seemed like hard work,” George said. “It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.”
That wouldn’t stop the guitarist from contributing one of the finest moment of the album in the beautiful ‘Within You Without You’ — the song John would call his favourite. It is deeply ingrained with George’s new Eastern identity and was an accurate reflection of where his music would eventually go without the band. Georger recorded the song in London, alone and without the band’s other members.
“‘Within You Without You’ came about after I had spent a bit of time in India and fallen under the spell of the country and its music,” remembered George. “I had brought back a lot of instruments. It was written at Klaus Voormann’s house in Hampstead after dinner one night. The song came to me when I was playing a pedal harmonium.
“I’d also spent a lot of time with Ravi Shankar, trying to figure out how to sit and hold the sitar, and how to play it. ‘Within You Without You’ was a song that I wrote based upon a piece of music of Ravi’s that he’d recorded for All-India Radio. It was a very long piece – maybe 30 or 40 minutes – and was written in different parts, with a progression in each. I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I’d discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later.” The track has since been regarded as one of the best The Beatles ever released, and Harrison ever wrote. It certainly had John’s seal of approval.
“I think that [‘Within You Without You’] is one of George’s best songs,” recalled John to David Sheff, “one of my favourites of his. I like the arrangement, the sound, and the words. He is clear on that song. You can hear his mind is clear and his music is clear. It’s his innate talent that comes through on that song, that brought that song together.”
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