When George Harrison wrote what many consider to be his opus with The Beatles, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, the moves he had to make thereafter offer an insight into his time as a songwriter in the band. “There was an embarrassing period when George’s songs weren’t that good and nobody wanted to say anything,” John Lennon said regarding the period leading up to the White Album. This was further added to by Paul McCartney, who separately revealed: “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good.”
With this attitude surrounding his songmanship forming an undercurrent in the studio and McCartney squirrelling away by himself in near isolation, Harrison thought that he needed to manufacture an impact. What better way to do that than welcome a guitar virtuoso into the studio to make a six-string sob so much it later apologised for making a scene.
As Harrison would later recall: “What happened when Eric [Clapton] was there on that day, and later on when Billy Preston – I pulled in Billy Preston on Let It Be – it helped. Because the others would have to control themselves a bit more. John and Paul mainly because they had to, you know, act more handsomely.” And it worked. By all accounts, the atmosphere in the studio was a steady one and everyone was suitably awed by Clapton’s guitar talents.
It wasn’t so much that Harrison was beleaguered in the band, it was more so that he was often glossed over like the group’s little brother. “George got stuck with being The Beatle who had to fight to get songs on record because of Lennon and McCartney,” Bob Dylan once opined. “Well, who wouldn’t get stuck! If George had his own group and was writing his own songs back then he would probably have been as big as anybody.”
Dylan continues: “George had an uncanny ability to just play chords that just didn’t seem to be connected in any kind of way and just come up with a melody and a song. I mean, I don’t know anyone else who could do that either. I mean, what can I tell you! He was from that old line of playing where every note was a note to be counted.”
Needless to say, that is high praise indeed from a man who Paul McCartney first met and declared: “He was our idol. It was a great honour to meet him, we had a crazy party that night we met. I thought I had gotten the meaning of life, that night.” And fortunately, although it was a scrap for Harrison within the band, his talent was recognised by folks aside from Dylan and some of the songs that he did weave onto Beatles records are among the most iconic tracks ever recorded, period.
His music has a wholesome, ethereal edge to it. As he perfectly applied a poignant description to it himself: “I’ll tell you one thing for sure: once you get to the point where you’re actually doing things for truth’s sake, then nobody can ever touch you again because you’re harmonising with a greater power.” Below we’ve harnessed it all in a playlist of every golden track he put forward with ‘The Fab Four’.
The George Harrison Beatles songs playlist:
- ‘Blue Jay Way’
- ‘Don’t Bother Me’
- ‘For You Blue’
- ‘Here Comes the Sun’
- ‘I Me Mine’
- ‘I Need You’
- ‘I Want to Tell You’
- ‘If I Need Someone’
- ‘It’s All Too Much’
- ‘Long Long Long’
- ‘Love You To’
- ‘Old Brown Shoe’
- ‘Only a Northern Song’
- ‘Savoy Truffle’
- ‘The Inner Light’
- ‘Think for Yourself’
- ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
- ‘Within You Without You’
- ‘You Like Me Too Much’