Relive the moment George Harrison and Paul Simon duet ‘Here Comes The Sun’ on SNL
On a very special episode of Lorne Michaels’ iconic late-night show, Saturday Night Live, saw the producer offer The Beatles the silly sum of $3,000 to reunite the band and perform three songs. A few weeks later, George Harrison arrived with a smile on his face to cash the cheque.
Harrison arrived at Saturday Night Live‘s Studio 8 full of charm, of humour and, most importantly, plenty of songs. The singer quickly turned on his moniker of the ‘Quiet Beatle’ and took on two tracks accompanied by songwriting legend Paul Simon, as they dueted The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and Simon’s ‘Homeward Bound’.
As part of the show’s famous opening monologue, producer Michaels offered the Fab Four, who at the time had only just come out of a verbal sparring session over interviews and songs, a chance at an unprecedented reunion.
With a smirk on his face, Michaels said: “‘She Loves You,’ yeah, yeah, yeah—that’s $1,000 right there. You know the words. It’ll be easy. Like I said, this is made out to ‘The Beatles.’ You [can] divide it any way you want. If you want to give Ringo [Starr] less, that’s up to you. I’d rather not get involved.” It was a joke which almost, unbeknownst to Michaels or the public, saw Lennon and McCartney gatecrash the recording.
Legend has it that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were watching the show at Lennon’s Dakota apartment in New York City and were seriously considering going to the studio and making history. A few weeks later Michaels was again addressing the Fab Four with yet another offer.
Michaels said: “I was able to convince NBC to sweeten the pot. John, Paul, George [Harrison] and Ringo—we are now prepared to up the original offer to $3,200.” Still, even with such an increase on the offer, the Beatles remained quiet for months. Until the Quiet Beatle himself, the late, great George Harrison would break the silence and book himself a car to Studio 8.
Arriving with his guitar and an open hand poised for the weight of the ‘handsome’ $3,200 cheque. Yet he was met (as part of a skit it must be emphasised) by Michaels with a disappointing revelation. “See, I thought you would understand that it was $3,000 for four people, and it would just be $750 for each of you,” Michaels told Harrison backstage with the audience watching on monitors. “As far as I’m concerned, you can have the full $3,000.”
“That’s pretty chintzy,” George Harrison replied. It was a fair assessment considering the wealth of TV gold Harrison was about to deliver alongside the show’s guest host for that evening, one half of Simon and Garfunkel, the brilliant Paul Simon.
The pair ran through four songs across the show and their performances are held loftily as some of the best in the show’s long and illustrious history.
Our two favourites come on the duo’s performance of the Harrison-penned Beatles classic, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and Paul Simon’s 1966 hit ‘Homeward Bound’. One special reason for that is that each star manages to make the other’s song more special with their performance, no small feat considering their respective stature.
On ‘Here Comes The Sun’ Paul Simon, as musically inclined a pop star as you will ever meet, effortlessly harmonises with The Beatles classic. By doing so, and with his unique vocal, he moves the track into a higher plain of ‘sweet and soulful’.
Then on ‘Homeward Bound’, another sixties gem, Harrison’s vocal contribution is a pure and otherworldly kind of beautiful and reaches far beyond the heavens to give the song a glowing halo of talent. It was such an impressive performance of the song it would go on to feature on Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal, the 1990 charity album Harrison compiled.
The two videos can be found below and see George Harrison every bit the consummate performer he promised to be after the band’s split. The Quiet Beatle was in the spotlight but decided to share it with Paul Simon.
Watch below as George Harrison and Paul Simon duet ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ on SNL.