There’s a strange mix of tones that manifests in Geoff Emerick‘s book Here, There, and Everywhere. On one side, Emerick seems reverential towards The Beatles and the music they made together, often marvelling at the fact that it was mostly just the Fab Four, George Martin, and himself crafting songs that would go on to be all-time classics. On the other side, Emerick can come off as flippant, cutting, and even quite harsh, especially when it came to the members that he saw as being second class citizens within the band.
“Even from the earliest days, I felt the artist was John Lennon and Paul McCartney, not The Beatles,” Emerick explains in the book. The engineer is unkind to George Harrison, specifically in a number of different spots, even going so far as to call his skills as a guitar player into question: “At the best of times, George had trouble playing solos all the way through forwards,” he comments.
But it was on a track from Beatles for Sale that Harrison’s playing hit a nadir, according to Emerick. That would be ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’, a perfectly fine tossed-off song that illustrated what The Beatles were going through in 1965; exhaustion, burnout, and a desire to move beyond the teeny-bopper stardom that they had commanded.
“I found Harrison’s simpleminded eight-note solo – not even a solo, really just the melody line – downright embarrassing,” Emerick opinionated. Apparently, the track was going to be completed without Harrison’s involvement, but the young guitar player insisted on adding something to the song. The results certainly aren’t some of his most inspired lead lines, but Emerick does sound like he’s being quite harsh to a guitarist who is almost universally considered a genius.
Emerick gives these hot takes throughout the book, usually at the expense of Harrison. Another crack came when Harrison was leading the session for Revolver‘s ‘Taxman’. While initially stating thatL “This was, after all, a Harrison song and therefore not something anyone was prepared to spend a whole lot of time on”, Emerick seemed almost relieved that McCartney eventually wound up playing the song’s solo, even diminishing Harrison’s skills in the process.
“Paul’s solo was stunning in its ferocity – his guitar playing had a fire and energy that his younger bandmate rarely matched – and was accomplished in just a take or two,” he added.
It’s a strange attitude to have towards someone who created the solos to ‘Something’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, and ‘Dig a Pony’, but to each their own I guess.