There is no doubt that between the interpersonal relationships of the four Beatles, the ties between George Harrison and Paul McCartney frayed more apparently than most. Of course, publically, John Lennon and McCartney went as far as to trade insults in their singles following the break up of The Beatles; the anger and resentment shared between Harrison and Macca was more than palpable.
Not only did Harrison subsequently note McCartney’s growing control over The Beatles as one of the reasons he disliked some of their work (namely Sgt. Pepper), but he also ended up writing his own songs about Macca and the band as well as featuring on tracks by Lennon and Ringo Starr which both seemed to aim at the affable Ram man. Thankfully, before Harrison’s sad death in 2001, the duo had reconciled and, perhaps owing to the untimely death of Lennon, the two men realised what they had shared meant more than what they had fought over.
McCartney was actually alerted to the death of his friend by a swarm of tabloid press who had convened outside his garden gate. As ever, McCartney was calm, collected and sincere in his approach, describing the news as “very sad.” He went on to say, “[I am devastated] I’ve known he’s been ill for a long time,” he commented, before adding: “I’ve spoken to Olivia [Harrison], and she has been very strong, and I’d ask people to be kind to her.”
When asked about his friendship with Harrison, he had some very touching words to say describing the ‘Quiet Beatle’, who “didn’t suffer fools gladly,” describing him as “a lovely man, I love him dearly, I grew up with him, and I like to remember all the good times.”
Later adding, “[He was a] fantastic guy, with a great sense of humour. I was lucky enough to see him a couple of weeks ago, and he was still laughing and joking.” The duo had experienced some difficulties throughout their careers, so it is some consolation that those moments appeared to be behind them before Harrison’s passing. It also means that we can explore some of their more beautiful moments together.
When speaking as part of a Reddit AMA in 2020, McCartney was given a chance to answer an age-old question from the fans: what is his favourite song by George Harrison? The Beatle’s answer was not only acknowledging one of Harrison’s best numbers but also the timeless appeal Harrison imbued all of his songs with. “‘Here Comes The Sun’,” answered McCartney. “It is a brilliant song and the kind of song that’s really good in times like these.”
Of course, in December 2020, as the world fought tirelessly against the onslaught of a pandemic, there is no better song from the band’s back catalogue to instil a feeling of hope. Harrison remembered writing the track in Eric Clapton’s back garden after a particularly bruising session with The Beatles and Apple: “It seems as if winter in England goes on forever; by the time spring comes, you really deserve it. So one day, I decided I was going to sag off Apple, and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go and see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote ‘Here Comes The Sun’.”
McCartney is right. Not only is the song easily one of Harrison’s best, but it perfectly captures the positivity we all sometimes need. As Harrison notes, sometimes the winters of life can feel a little longer than they should; this is the kind of song that casts a few rays down on the frozen ground and, just for a moment, reflects a sense of hope for a spring we’ve not yet seen.