In honour of what would be George Harrison’s 69th birthday on Saturday, we’ve put together his top ten hits, one’s he penned and sung with The Beatles, and as an accomplished solo musician and songwriter in his own right:
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9. Don’t Bother Me – The Beatles – from Meet the Beatles! George’s first self-penned song to appear on a Beatles album was written while he was ill on tour:
“I was a bit run down and was supposed to be having some sort of tonic, taking it easy for a few days…I got out my guitar and just played around till a song came. I forgot all about it till we came to record the next LP. It was a fairly crappy song. I forgot about it completely once it was on the album“.
8. What is Life – George Harrison – from his second solo release All Things Must Pass.The song peaked at #10 in 1971, making George the first ex-Beatle to have two Top 10 solo hits on the Billboard chart.
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles – from The White Album. Harrisonwasn’t satisfied with original recordings of the song, so he asked Eric Clapton to record the lead guitar solo in 1968. In his autobiography, Clapton wrote about the experience with George – and the other Beatles:
“I was an outsider, but it went well. The song was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” We did just one take, and I thought it sounded fantastic. John and Paul were fairly noncommittal, but I knew George was happy because he listened to it over and over in the control room…I felt like I had been brought into their inner sanctum“.
“…this is a song I wrote to an old friend of ours…whose name is John Lennon“.
5. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles – from the album Abbey Road. The song is sung by George, a song-writing collaboration between George and close friend Eric Clapton:
“Here Comes the Sun” was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘Sign this’ and ‘sign that’. Anyway, 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 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“.
“With ‘Give Me Love’, again it was a personal thing for me and if anybody else got off on it, well, there it was. But it was awareness of what we need, just give me love, thank you”.
3. Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison. Two music videos were released for his cover, the first centred around an arcade, the second in a study, with dancing objects – and a backflip!
“You know, my humour is such that I have to be able to have something funny happening around me so I can be deadpan, as I’m not really into acting. I think that works very well for me. The director was a guy called Gary Weis, who incidentally directed the Rutles, so he’s a very funny fellow himself. He thought of having a simple setting like that room and making it move so I could just sing straight, play straight andeverything else would be the joke“.
2. Something – The Beatles – from the album Abbey Road. Pattie Boyd (George’s girlfriend at the time) claimed in her 2007 autobiography that the song was written about her: “He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful“.
But in a 1996 interview, George stated otherwise:
“Well no, I didn’t. I just wrote it, and then somebody put together a video. And what they did was they went out and got some footage of me and Patti, Paul and Linda, Ringo and Maureen, it was at that time, and John and Yoko and they just made up a little video to go with it. So then, everybody presumed I wrote it about Patti, but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of Ray Charles.”
1. My Sweet Lord – George Harrison – from the album All Things Must Pass. It was the first #1 hit by any ex-Beatle. In an interview in 1980, George talked about the song’s inspiration:
“My idea in “My Sweet Lord,” because it sounded like a “pop song,” was to sneak up on them a bit. The point was to have the people not offended by “Hallelujah,” and by the time it gets to “Hare Krishna,” they’re already hooked, and their foot’s tapping, and they’re already singing along “Hallelujah,” to kind of lull them into a sense of false security. And then suddenly it turns into “Hare Krishna,” and they will all be singing that before they know what’s happened, and they will think, “Hey, I thought I wasn’t supposed to like Hare Krishna!” – Interview, 1980