George Harrison was one of the most under-appreciated songwriters. Every other band in the 60s were competing with the beast that was the Lennon-McCartney hit songwriting factory. Harrison was competing with them too, but from the inside, which made it all the more difficult for him to get his songs heard. Here are my top 10 favorite songs penned by George:
10. “Within You Without You” (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
During the Beatles’s time in India, Harrison was particularly inspired by the music and culture. So much so, that he trained privately in eastern music, culture, and spirituality. While this song was not commercially as successful has some of his other works, it was one of the first times that a pop artist had brought this much eastern influence into their music.
Harrison is the only Beatle to appear on this song. This was not unprecedented, (McCartney had released Yesterday on “Help!”) but it was uncommon.
9. “I Me Mine” (Let It Be)
Harrison was frustrated with the selfishness in the band that was growing more and more evident to him as he embraced his newfound spirituality.
As evidence, Lennon was on vacation in Denmark when the song was being recorded, and can be seen dancing (not playing an instrument) during the writing sessions on the Let It Be documentary.
8. “If I Needed Someone” (Rubber Soul)
If I needed Someone was the only Harrison song to ever be performed live in concert by the Beatles. All other songs sung by Harrison were covers. This song was actually a big influence in my song “Not My Fault” which was written while I was in The Clergymen.
7. “I Need You” (Help!)
This song is George’s first recorded use of a volume pedal as an important part of his guitar composition.
6. “Don’t Bother Me” (With the Beatles)
This was George’s first attempt at writing a song! He penned this while he was ill in his hotel room. He never really liked this song and always viewed it as more of an exercise that proved to himself that he could work at becoming a great writer.
5. “Taxman” (Revolver)
George found out that their income placed them in the highest tax bracket and made them subject to a 95% income tax and wrote Taxman in anger. This is one of Paul McCartney’s first times performing lead guitar on a song. Also, this is the first and only time a Beatles’s record opens with a Harrison song.
4. “Savoy Truffle” (The Beatles, a.k.a. The White Album)
George was famously close friends with Eric Clapton and wrote this song about Clapton’s fondness of Chocolate. Many of the desert names are taken from a mixed chocolates box that Clapton was eating while at Harrison’s home.
John Lennon was not present at this recording session and as a result, does not appear at all on this song.
3. “Here Comes the Sun” (Abbey Road)
Harrison wrote this song while playing hooky and avoiding business meetings at Apple, the Beatles record company. He spent the day walking in Eric Clapton’s garden.
John didn’t play on this song either. All of the guitar parts are performed by Harrison, as well as the Moog synthesizer and harmonium parts. Paul played bass and sang some harmonies. George sang additional harmonies in John’s absence.
2. “Something” (Abbey Road)
Frank Sinatra is famously quotes as saying that this is his favorite Lennon-McCartney song, which is hilarious because it was actually written by George. In fact, this was Harrison’s first A-Side single with the Beatles. Harrison’s wife at the time, Patti Boyd, was the muse for this song. She was also the muse for several famous songs by her second husband – Eric Clapton (Layla, Wonderfull Tonight).
John Lennon played piano on this song and said that he thought this was the best song on Abbey Road.
1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (The Beatles, a.k.a The White Album)
Harrison brought Clapton in to play lead guitar on this song due to the intolerable amount of fighting within the band at the time. He figured that they would all be on their best behavior with a guest in the studio with them.