He may have been labelled the ‘quiet one’ but when George Harrison spoke, he deserved to be listened to. He wasn’t as prolific as the Lennon/McCartney partnership, but his songs played an increasingly important part of The Beatles’ legacy. Here are ten of his best songs.
10. If I Needed Someone (1966)
The jingle jangle ring of Rickenbacker guitar that lights up this Revolver album track was said to be influenced by The Byrds’ The Bells Of Rhymney. Some trademark Beatles harmonies made this song an easy target for fellow hitmakers The Hollies to cover – however at the time, their version was lambasted by Harrison and barely scraped into the top twenty.
9. It’s All Too Much (1967)
Tune in and turn on for a classic slice of LSD influenced psych. Recorded in June 1967, this chugging singalong was eventually used on Yellow Submarine over a year later. By then, the Beatles had gone back to simpler sounds. This Harrison freak out is therefore a memorable ode to the summer of love. In 1976, Steve Hillage covered the song on his L album.
8. Long, Long, Long (1968)
A dreamy lament which can be found languishing on side four of the Beatles White Album. Be sure to seek it out, as this is one of Harrison’s most affecting lyrical themes. Note the added effect at the close of the song – the sound of a wine bottle reverberating on top of an amp.
7. Blue Jay Way (1967)
Harrison’s contribution to their Magical Mystery Tour TV film was a suitably phased psychedelic journey. It tells the tale of ‘a fog upon LA’ as Harrison, on a visit to Los Angeles in August 1967, awaited the arrival of Beatles publicist Derek Taylor. Blue Jay Way was the name of the street in Hollywood Hills where he was staying.
6. I Me Mine (1970)
This pleasing waltz time rocker was one of the very last Beatles song to be worked on. Harrison, McCarney and Starr gathered at Abbey Road early in January 1970 to complete the song for the Let It Be movie. Significantly, John was away peace campaigning at the time. Lyrically, it hinted at the egos at play within the group that would eventually signal their demise.
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5. Within You Without You (1967)
Once more, into the mystic. This Indian-influenced, sitar-led swirl demonstrated Harrison’s growing love for an alternative culture. While other fellow travellers such as Donavon flirted with the sitar, it was Harrison who placed it most successfully in the pop/rock idiom. This Sgt Pepper track is a prime example.
4. Taxman (1966)
Surprisingly, it was Macca who supplied the strident guitar solo of this vibrant opener to the Revolver album. Harrison meanwhile, offered a wry observation of the British tax system – ‘’and you’re working for nobody but me’’. Listen carefully for namechecks for those political buffoons of the day messrs’ Wilson and Heath.
3. Here Comes The Sun (1969)
Written in Eric Clapton’s garden when Harrison sagged off from attending meetings at their Apple HQ, his increasing frustration of life as a fab one flowered into a truly uplifting composition. He added some subtle moog synth effects to a song that is always guaranteed to brighten up the bleakest of days.
2. Something (1969)
Built around the phrase ‘’Something in the way she moves’’ (borrowed from a song by Apple Records artist James Taylor), Harrison’s own maturing songwriting talent created one of the Beatles’ most-covered songs, with Frank Sinatra proclaiming it to be ‘’the greatest love song of the last 50 years’’. In late 1969 it was extracted from the Abbey Road album to become a worldwide hit.
1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (1968)
This White Album epic started life as a gentle acoustic piece. In rocking it up, he called upon the services of the then Cream member Eric Clapton. Their duel guitar battle is a truly thrilling coda and has ensured that this song remains at the forefront of his considerable Beatle achievements.