George Harrison’s role in The Beatles was a simple one to begin with. He was the unique guitarist who stood behind the principal songwriters of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, ready to harmonise at the drop of a hat. But by 1969 things had changed.
George had found his musical chops and was now keen to enact his songwriting skill on the Fab Four’s records and write one of the best tracks in the band’s extensive back catalogue.
George had begun to work out his musical style by the turn of 1969. Having spent much of the latter part of the previous year with Bob Dylan and The Band, working on tracks like ‘I’d Have You Anytime’, and with his work on The Beatles so widely loved, Harrison had hope for the future of the Fab Four.
In truth, the band had been squabbling for some time. George was hopeful, “I can remember feeling quite optimistic. I thought, ‘OK, it’s the New Year and we have a new approach to recording.’”
That new approach was Get Back a multimedia proposition that would record rehearsals for a live concert of new material, ready-made for a TV special. It would see the band get back to basics and reconnect with their music. But things didn’t go smoothly and Macca was quickly taking on the role of conductor, “At that point in time, Paul couldn’t see beyond himself,” George told Guitar World in 2001. “He was on a roll, but … in his mind, everything that was going on around him was just there to accompany him. He wasn’t sensitive to stepping on other people’s egos or feelings.”
George began to pitch new tracks such as ‘Let It Down,’ ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ and even the iconic ‘Something’.
In 1987, Harrison admitted, “I just got so fed up with the bad vibes,” he told Musician magazine. “I didn’t care if it was the Beatles, I was getting out.”
John even suggesting they find a replacement quickly, “I think if George doesn’t come back by Monday or Tuesday, we ask Eric Clapton to play,” he told Get Back director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. “We should just go on as if nothing’s happened.”
That day, arriving at his Surrey home, George enacted the ultimate reply to his partners by reaching for his guitar and writing one of his most treasured tracks, ‘Wah Wah’. Though it was named in part as a reference to the guitar effects pedal, later George admitted in his biography I, Me, Mine that it was saying “You’re giving me a bloody headache,” to his bandmates.
George would eventually return to the session but soon enough the band were irreparable and the Fab Four went their separate ways. George’s All Things Must Pass, is widely regarded as the finest post-Beatles album, and the first song he would set about recording for his new project? ‘Wah Wah’, George’s declaration of independence.