The Beatles’ gem ‘Something’ is regarded as George Harrison’s finest hour in The Fab Four that saw him finally elevated as an equal on John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s level when it came to songwriting. Whilst his profound lyricism is the key to the beauty of the song, his work on the guitar is equally as divine, which this isolated solo proves.
A great songwriter himself, Bob Dylan once accurately summed up Harrison’s place within The Beatles: “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? 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 said in a 2007 interview. Harrison was always understated whilst The Beatles were together. This position suited him well as he could go about his business in the background, which added extra importance to every time he stepped forward with his own work.
Abbey Road remains an adored Beatles record, which Harrison made great. Although John Lennon did later admit he held disdain towards the project, confirming that his heart was no longer in the band: “I think it’s junk. It was just bits of song thrown together. And I can’t remember what some of it is,” he said. Even if the album wasn’t to Lennon’s pallet, Harrison’s spirited effort can’t be denounced. He brought forward two of the most beloved moments on the record, with ‘Something’ and the timeless hit ‘Here Comes The Sun’, which proved that Harrison was a special talent, not just on the six-string. However, his ability on the guitar was still unavoidable on both tracks and makes them so incandescent.
The inspiration behind ‘Something’ has been a hotly debated matter. It was first attributed to Harrison’s then-wife Pattie Boyd, “He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me,” said Boyd in a book about her life. However, rumours about Harrison’s infidelity were rife at this point. It meant when the BBC journalist David Wigg asked Harrison who the song was written for in 1969, the guitarist coyly answered, “Maybe Pattie, probably.”
Even Wigg wasn’t convinced, following up with an inquisitive “really?” question. Rumours of Boyd and Harrison’s loose relationship were beginning to be exposed, and, not comfortable with the topic. The guitarist immediately moved the conversation away from the true muse of the song to a focus on the melody.
“The words are nothing, really,” Harrison said in 1969. “There are lots of songs like that in my head. I must get them down. Some people tell me that ‘Something’ is one of the best things I’ve ever written. I don’t know. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. It’s very flattering though…. It’s nice. It’s probably the nicest melody tune that I’ve written.”
Although we will never know who was the true inspiration for Harrison to create ‘Something’, we can all admire the sheer greatness of the track and be thankful for whoever it was that compelled the Beatle to write it. His solo is emotive, dignified and isn’t him using the guitar to overtly show off his talent, but instead expertly adding delicate layers to the song. It is what helps make ‘Something’ incredibly iconoclastic.
Harrison’s use of the guitar doesn’t steal the show. However, without it, then the track would crumble apart. It’s an underappreciated part of the track’s brilliance, which acts as a microcosm of George Harrison’s career.