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Music

The Beatles song that saw George Harrison play bass

@TylerGolsen

George Harrison playing bass lines in Beatles songs was surprisingly commonplace by the end of the band’s existence. During the Get Back sessions, when Paul McCartney would play guitar or piano, somebody had to step in to play the low end. Both Harrison and John Lennon took turns playing the Fender Bass IV, and Harrison even played the bass line for ‘Two of Us’ on his Fender Rosewood Telecaster. But the guitar players almost never actually stepped up to the four string.

But early on during the recording of Revolver, Harrison didn’t have a choice. Throughout most of their career, The Beatles rarely took more than a few days to record any of their songs, and most of the work was done in a single day. That’s especially true for their pre-Sgt. Pepper’s material, which was relatively straight forward and without major additional overdubs. But even during the Revolver days, the band got their experiments down relatively quickly.

The acid-infused track ‘She Said She Said’ was highly psychedelic in nature, but the actual recording was relatively easy. That was until a disagreement broke out and McCartney walked out of his one and only Beatles session.

“John brought it in pretty much finished, I think. I’m not sure but I think it was one of the only Beatle records I never played on,” McCartney recalled. “I think we’d had a barney or something and I said, ‘Oh, fuck you!’ and they said, ‘Well, we’ll do it.’ I think George played bass.”

Harrison did indeed step in and play bass during the track, marking his first turn on the instrument. There were rumours that Harrison had played the instrument during ‘Paperback Writer. In fact, Harrison was only photographed with the bass, but it wound up being the same instrument he would eventually play on ‘She Said She Said’.

Harrison would later add an overdub of bass to the the wildly disjointed session for ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’, which was the result of another walkout. This time it was from Ringo Starr, with McCartney sitting in on drums during the initial take and Lennon playing the Fender VI. Pretty much everyone attempted bits and pieces of each instrument for the overdubs, and it’s a testament to their combined musicianship that the track doesn’t sound completely haphazard.