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Music

The Beatles song George Harrison wrote as a "tribute" to Eric Clapton

@josephtaysom

George Harrison first met Eric Clapton when The Yardbirds supported The Beatles, and a few years later, they became inseparable. The pair were kindred spirits, with Harrison even penning a song as a “tribute” to his close friend.

Perhaps the greatest reflection of the bond between the two is the fact that Harrison even brought Clapton into the Fab Four’s inner circle in a bid to smooth the inner band tension. It was a period fraught with bitterness, a time when Harrison was close to quitting the group and needed as much moral support as possible. Slowhand famously worked with The Beatles on ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, which helped get the best out of Harrison.

When Harrison finally decided to pull the trigger and briefly depart The Beatles, it was even mooted by the rest of the band that Clapton should be his replacement. However, he’d swiftly returned to the fold before they even had time to approach him.

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The White Album was a turning point for Harrison as a songwriter, as John Lennon later admitted: “There was an embarrassing period when George’s songs weren’t that good and nobody wanted to say anything.” Meanwhile, Paul McCartney agreed and said: “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good.” 

Harrison had begun to exude infectious confidence, and the playful ‘Savoy Truffle’ is an example of his growth, which he later revealed was written as a “tribute” to Eric Clapton.

Rather than being an ode to their friendship, it was, in fact, a joke about Clapton’s dental problems, which was preventing him from giving his sweet tooth exactly what it was craving. “‘Savoy Truffle’ is a funny one written whilst hanging out with Eric Clapton in the ’60s. At that time he had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had a toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates – he couldn’t resist them, and once he saw a box he had to eat them all,” Harrison explained in 1980

He continued. “He was over at my house, and I had a box of Good News chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid. I got stuck with the two bridges for a while and Derek Taylor wrote some of the words in the middle – ‘You know that what you eat you are’.”

In a separate interview, Harrison elaborated on the reasoning for penning the track and explained: “So as a tribute I wrote, ‘You’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle’. The truffle was some kind of sweet, just like all the rest – cream tangerine, ginger sling – just candy, to tease Eric”.

Admittedly, the light-hearted effort wasn’t Harrison’s finest moment, but it’s hard not to raise a smile when listening to the exuberant ‘Savoy Truffle’. The guitarist writing it as an excuse to poke fun at the expense of Eric Clapton is yet another further reason to grin like a Cheshire cat.

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