The love that Bob Dylan had for The Beatles is well documented. The enigmatic singer’s adoration for the pop maestros has been clear to see for decades, but his respect for one member, in particular, continued to grow as the years went by.
Dylan’s particular affection for Geroge Harrison was a known fact. The two songwriters collaborated on a number of occasions, most notably with the supergroup Travelling Wilburys which also included Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. Aside from this, Dylan saw Harrison as one of the most important songwriters of a generation, and, with that, he later admitted working with Harrison to try and find his voice outside of The Beatles. As a result, George constantly referenced the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan as an influence.
“George got stuck with being the Beatle that had to fight to get songs on records because of Lennon and McCartney. Well, who wouldn’t get stuck?” Dylan said in a 2007 interview. It’s hard to argue with him; Harrison must have endured a relatively stifling to sit between two such musical powerhouses as John and Paul. “If George had had his own group and was writing his own songs back then, he’d have been probably just as big as anybody,” Dylan added.
The clip below comes from the recording sessions for ‘I’d Have You Anytime’, a song that was written by George Harrison and Bob Dylan and released in 1970 as the opening track of Harrison’s first post-Beatles solo album, All Things Must Pass.
The song wouldn’t rank too highly in the annals of musical history, but it would allow for a beautiful moment as Harrison shares his past with Dylan while working on his future. The session also delivered a beautiful performance of the Paul McCartney-penned track ‘Yesterday’.
That song would be very highly placed in the aforementioned annals and be largely regarded as one of The Beatles greatest tracks. It’s a number that is pure poetry and melody in motion, and it provides choking flecks of sadness and joyous hope. Somehow, this cover is an equally thrilling and captivating experience.
In the same 2007 interview, Dylan moved to quickly dismiss the rumours of rivalry between himself and the Mersey-beat band. “They were fantastic singers. Lennon, to this day, it’s hard to find a better singer than Lennon was, or than McCartney was and still is,” he said, before concluding: “I’m in awe of McCartney. He’s about the only one that I am in awe of. He can do it all. And he’s never let up… He’s just so damn effortless. I just wish he’d quit (laughs). Everything that comes out of his mouth is just framed in melody.”
While Dylan was always a fan of the band following this performance, it was clear to see that, like so many other young folk in the 1960s, had a favourite Beatle, and it was certainly the late, great George Harrison.
Take a listen to the brilliant collaboration of George Harrison and Bob Dylan on their cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday’ from a 1970 recording session below.