Listen back to Bob Dylan and George Harrison performing ‘Yesterday’ from 1970
It’s well documented the love Bob Dylan had for The Beatles. The enigmatic singer’s adoration for the pop maestros wasn’t just kept to the band as a group but as respect for each member, and one quiet one in particular.
In 1970, Dylan got together with The Beatles’ man with the guitar, George Harrison, for a recording session from which came this beautiful cover of ‘Yesterday’ which has us dreaming of what an album with Bob and George may have sounded like.
Dylan’s particular affection for Harrison was a known fact, the two songwriters collaborated on a few 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, though he admitted working with Harrison to try and find his voice outside of The Beatles, George constantly referencing 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?” he said in a 2007 interview. It’s hard to argue with, it must’ve been 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.”
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 and delivers 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 track that is pure poetry and melody in motion, 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 concluded “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.”