One ought to sympathise when an aspiring songwriter has to grow and evolve within the shadow of two other supreme songwriters. Such was the case when George Harrison struggled to get at least one or two songs onto the newest Beatles album throughout their career. Not only was Harrison younger and not included in the core songwriting partnership, but he also didn’t have any partner to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of.
“George’s songwriting was painful for him because he had no one to collaborate with and John and Paul was such a collaborative duo that they would throw out a word of advice to him and so on, but they didn’t really work with him,” George Martin once observed.
Additionally, Harrison was like the younger brother of the lot, and was also considered the ‘Quiet Beatle’. From the perspective of a producer, especially during the 1960s, their job was to focus on where the heart of the creative force was coming from; the Lennon-McCartney partnership churned out one song after another and most of them were top ten hits. Hit songs mean money and money means more record contracts.
“They had a lot of practice, put it that way. They had been writing since we were in school. So they had written most of their bad songs before we had gotten into the recording studio,” Harrison had humbly observed. “For me, I had to come from nowhere and start writing and to have something at least quality enough to be able to, you know, put it in the record with all the wondrous hits.”
What was the first song that George Harrison wrote for The Beatles?
It wouldn’t be long until Harrison got his first song included on a Beatles record; ‘Don’t Bother Me’ appeared on With The Beatles, their second album released in 1963. It was one of the eight original compositions found on the album – during those days it was common practice for bands to mix their tracklisting with popular covers.
Their third album, A Hard Day’s Night, would not feature any of Harrison’s songs, however, it did feature Harrison vocals on a Lennon-McCartney tune – something that Harrison would adamantly oppose later in their career. Whether or not Harrison had any tunes to be considered for the record is unclear – regardless, the quiet Beatle would eventually become quite prolific.
The next Harrison tune wouldn’t surface until their fifth record, Help!. In fact, he had two songs on this record.
Why did George Harrison only ever have one or two songs on Beatles albums?
While Harrison probably didn’t mind being the quiet Beatle in the beginning, by the time the Fab Four began work on their ‘Get Back’ sessions what would later turn into Let it Be, Harrison had amassed an array of brilliant songs. We would know this because most of these songs would appear on his third but most successful solo record, All Things Must Pass.
‘All Things Must Pass’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, ‘Let It Down’, and ‘Hear Me Lord’ were among the songs that Lennon and McCartney had routinely overlooked.
In regards to these sessions, Harrison expressed his frustrations, “I think the first couple of days were OK,” he said according to Anthology, also adding, “But it was soon quite apparent that it was just the same as it had been when we were last in the studio — and it was going to be painful again.”
Of course, the previous time the Fab Four had dealt with an internal crisis was during the making of The White Album. Harrison was forced to bring a new friend of his at the time into the studio to lay down some guitar work in place of his bandmates; Eric Clapton would play the guitar on one of Harrison’s masterpieces, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. While the result was fabulous, it was probably bittersweet for the songwriter.
Harrison became increasingly resentful and hurt because of the way he was being treated by Lennon and McCartney. “George didn’t even used to sing when we brought him into the group, he was a guitarist. He wasn’t in the same league for a long time. That’s not putting him down, he just hadn’t had the practice at writing that we had,” Lennon said later on about Harrison’s ability as a songwriter.
While this may have been true in the beginning, it clearly wasn’t the case later in their career, and despite Harrison’s prolific ability, he was still denied more than two maybe three songs on a record.
How many songs did George Harrison write for The Beatles?
George Harrison wrote 25 songs for the Beatles, three of which were a complete band effort, as all of the Fab Four were credited. These are ‘Flying’, ‘Dig It’, and ‘Maggie Mae’.
Below is a list of the rest of the 22 songs that Harrison wrote for the Fab Four.
All the songs that George Harrison wrote for The Beatles
- ‘Don’t Bother Me’ – With The Beatles
- ‘I Need You’ – Help!
- ‘You Like Me Too Much’ – Help!
- ‘Think For Yourself’ – Rubber Soul
- ‘If I needed Someone’ – Rubber Soul
- ‘Taxman’ – Revolver
- ‘Love You To’ – Revolver
- ‘I Want To Tell You’ – Revolver
- ‘Within You Without You’ – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club
- ‘Blue Jay Way’ – The Magical Mystery Tour
- ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ – The White Album
- ‘Piggies’ – The White Album
- ‘Long, Long, Long’ – The White Album
- ‘Savoy Truffle’ – The White Album
- ‘It’s All Too Much’ – The Yellow Submarine
- ‘Only A Northern Song’ – The Yellow Submarine
- ‘Something’ – Abbey Road
- ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – Abbey Road
- ‘I, Me, Mine’ – Let it Be
- ‘Dig It’ – Let it Be
- ‘For You Blue’ – Let it Be
- ‘The Inner-Light’ – Non-album single (B-side to ‘Lady Madonna’)