Monday, March 11, 2013

An Appreciation of George Harrison's 22 Beatles' Songs, Part 2

To celebrate George Harrison's 70th birthday here is part two of Bloggerhythms' analysis of the twenty-two songs he wrote, recorded, and released for The Beatles. You can read part one here.

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - The Beatles (1968)
One of the Beatles' five all-time greatest efforts and another of Harrison's philosophical works. This one is based on the Eastern belief that nothing is random and everything that happens is related to everything else. George plays acoustic guitar and Paul McCartney added piano and organ. It's famous for Eric Clapton's sensational electric lead guitar solo.

"Piggies" - The Beatles (1968)
This short, social commentary ditty sounds cute enough to have dripped from the pen of McCartney but its totally counter-culture lyrics prove otherwise. Often thought to be about the Royal Family it's really a slam on the U. K.'s class structure and corporate greed. John Lennon was responsible for the pig grunts. George got his point across but considering he was one of four millionaires who spent most of the next couple of years fighting with his other three bandmates over a whole bunch of business matters (ie: money) the lyrics lost some of their clout.

"Savoy Truffle" - The Beatles (1968)
Is there anything better than a song about desserts? The lighter side of George finally broke through. The song was inspired by Eric Clapton's addiction to chocolate. Musically, the highlight is the six man saxophone section consisting of three tenors and a trio of one of my favorite instruments, the baritone sax.

"Long, Long, Long" - The Beatles (1968)
What is this song other than a definite step backward? The tune should have been called "Boring, Boring, Boring." The arrangement is soooooo slow, extremely low-key, and George's vocal is so subdued that the lyrics are almost inaudible. Only Ringo Starr's drum fills offer any kind of respite from the monotony and it’s not because he’s doing anything outstanding. His work is the only thing you can actually hear on the whole track.

"Only A Northern Song" & "It's All Too Much" – Yellow Submarine (1969)
Both tunes were cut from the same cloth and were recorded during the Sgt. Pepper era. George Martin said that the first one wasn't good enough for inclusion on Pepper and the latter was kept off of Magical Mystery Tour. Both suffer from the same psychedelic excesses as "Blue Jay Way" (see part one).

"Something" – Abbey Road (1969)
It took until the final year of The Beatles for George to claim an "A" side of a single but when he finally did he gave us one of the classic ballads of all time. The song is not just a favorite of Beatles fans. This opening salvo to one of the group's greatest albums is also one of the most covered love songs in history and deservedly so.

"Here Comes The Sun" - Abbey Road (1969)
Supposedly written in Eric Clapton's garden after the Beatle went there to escape all of the business hassles at Apple. It's loved almost as much as "Something," maybe even more. Another tune in which the sunny side of Harrison took over. The lyrics are not profound, just some English pleasantries with a great, intoxicating melody. Why could George get away recording this kind of fluff and not McCartney? If the latter had written this piece it probably would have been reviled.

"Old Brown Shoe" – B-side to "The Ballad of John & Yoko" (1969)
By this time Harrison stopped experimenting with Indian instruments entirely and his music became less serious, freer, less experimental, yet often still unique. This rollicking love song is an example of the "new" George. It rocks, rolls, and is quite a fun listen. Great arrangement!

"I, Me, Mine" - Let It Be (1970)
Using Hindu philosophy for a song one last time with his iconic band George probably believed this tune would be taken more seriously than it was. However, the arrangement and production make it sound like nothing more than pleasant filler that distracts the listener from the lyrics. Ringo Starr described it as a heavy waltz.

"For You Blue" – Let It Be (1970)
Once again, the composer and his Liverpool buddies showed off their versatility. While the last Harrison track on the last Beatles album is in the same spirit as "Old Brown Shoe" it sounds nothing like that earlier tune. It's a happy blues (that's not an oxymoron) featuring John Lennon playing some amazing lap steel.

4 comments:

  1. Enjoyed this, Charlie. Nice going. Keep on keepin' on!

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  2. Nice series Charlie. Ringo next?

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  3. Regarding "Savoy Truffle" it's too bad that Eric Clapton's addiction to chocolate wasn't his only one.

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  4. Thanks for posting this. I am one who believes all the best Beatles have passed. George Harrison was by far one of the greats next to John Lennon. The Beatles in general have served as a huge inspiration to the artists that preceded them, including myself and the boys in my band Face The King!

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