We’re dipping into the Far Out vaults to look back at one of The Beatles greatest song like you’ve never heard it before—through the guitar of George Harrison.
George Harrison may well have been one of the integral corners of the most triumphant band to ever grace the earth in The Beatles, but he was still riddled with insecurity. The guitarist and songwriter had begun to find his feet in 1969 but was still fairly conflicted about his own guitar playing.
It may have been the ‘Quiet Beatle’ living up to his name and keeping the spotlight away from him or perhaps that the class of guitarist he rose up with, the likes of Clapton, Jeff Beck and Hendrix, were just too far out of his league for him to even consider himself in the same bracket. Either way, he was never one to boast about his work on the fretboard.
When you consider this against the fact that alongside John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr he was the lead guitar in some of the most widely loved songs ever written, that’s without considering his later solo work, it can be a hard fact to get your head around. When you look to see most of his contemporaries value him to be one of the best then the plot seems to thicken.
It becomes even more prevalent when you look back at the unique flourish and colourful tone he added to the band’s brilliant track, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. Recorded during the band’s Let It Be Sessions in 1969, the song remains a firm favourite with the band’s fans. Below, we’re taking a look back at Harrison’s isolated guitar on the number and reflecting on the immense talent he had in his hands.
The track may hang on the hook of Lennon’s passionate plea to Yoko Ono to treat him as the vulnerable artist he perceived himself to be, it is in Harrison’s guitar work that the tune truly comes alive and why it is still so beloved to this day.
As the temperature of Lennon’s vocals begins to rise, Harrison counterbalances them with delicate string work that typified his playing style. It was a partnership reflected in Lennon’s rhythm guitar too, the duo having bounced off one another for years.
Harrison was never flash or flippant about his guitar playing. There was never a superfluous note added for the sake of artistic or personal hubris or indeed, vocational endeavour. George was always keen to add colour and creativity to the tracks but was never one to put the need to impress above the song’s integrity. It was largely what made him an expert songwriter and a vital part of the band’s success.
Nowhere is this more plainly obvious to see than in the isolated guitar on the Fab Four’s ‘Get Back’ B-side. As well as offering the perfect refrain from Lennon’s impassioned vocal, Harrison also provides a counter-melody on the bridge which transforms the track from “rocking little number” to perhaps one of the band’s greatest ever songs.
Listen below and try to find a single note out of place form George Harrison on The Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.