The moment George Harrison performed The Beatles song ‘Something’ at his last ever concert
In the early nineties, there was one former member of The Beatles that was breaking out from the shadow of one of the most famous bands the world has ever seen. For a time, George Harrison, the reclusive rock star, was a bonafide pop star.
Following 1987s commercial and critical success Cloud Nine, mostly buoyed by Harrison’s mega-watt pop hit ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set On You’, George Harrison was a household name again for the first time since the 1970s All Things Must Pass — things had changed and now Harrison was the first name on the bill.
His first record had ascertained Harrison his legendary status on his solo work alone but, despite all his experience, Harrison was never a big fan of touring after 1974. The pain of that tour with Ravi Shankar had clearly landed quite heavily on Harrison and for many years, despite commercial success, the Quiet Beatle was, for the main part, remaining quiet.
After sharing the stage in Los Angeles in 1990, Harrison was seemingly dipping his toe into the touring water when he joined the legendary Eric Clapton for a joint string of dates in Japan. It seemed, for a moment, as though the Beatle was gearing up for a tour. Yet after Harrison and Clapton performed at 12 shows across the land of the rising sun the guitarist would again retreat to his life off the road.
On only two occasions would the ‘My Sweet Lord’ singer be lured out of hiding and on to the stage and under the spotlight. While one, technically his last on stage, was a short performance as part of the Bob Dylan tribute show in October 1992, the last full performance from Harrison came a few months before and saw the singer prove he was still an incredible live act.
Taking place at the Royal Albert Hall just a few days before the British General Election with the evening acting as a benefit concert for the National Law Party. A party founded in 1992 on “the principles of Transcendental Meditation”, the laws of nature, and their application to all levels of government, seemed the perfect fit for George Harrison at the time.
As such, Harrison banned all commercial filming of the performance but, luckily, the touching performance of his 1971 tune ‘Something’ has surfaced online. It’s a beautiful moment in the evening and represents one of the final times Harrison would ever perform the song.
‘Something’ will forever remain a special track for George Harrison. Not only was it the first song he was able to release with The Beatles as a fully-fledged single as well as featuring on Abbey Road, but it was also the first song for The Beatles to reach number one that wasn’t suffixed with “written by Lennon-McCartney.”
It’s one of Harrison’s classics tracks and despite being championed as the “greatest love song in 50 years” by the crooner extraordinaire Frank Sinatra, the song isn’t actually about a lover, per se. “He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me,” said Harrison’s then-wife Pattie Boyd in a book about her life. But the facts are a little hazy.
“Everybody assumed I wrote it about Pattie,” said Harrison to author Joshua Greene. In Greene’s book he confirms that Harrison had revealed that he had in fact written the song as an ode to Hare Krishna and spirituality. But even that feels a bit tenuous.
“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.”
Luckily, knowing who the song was written for matters very little indeed. What does matter is that Harrison wrote the song and released it. What matters is how the song makes you feel and, judging by most of our readers’ reactions, ‘Something’ makes you feel a lot.
As a bonus, we’re also bringing you the show’s final encore.
Harrison invited fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr as well as Joe Walsh, Gary Moore and Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison to come onstage for the performances of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven.’