George Harrison’s Best Songs with The Beatles
While any Beatles fan knows that the Paul McCartney/John Lennon songwriting dynamic was untouchable, it’s important to remember George Harrison’s contributions to The Beatles’ discography. George has been widely praised for his talented guitar work with The Beatles, but he is criminally underrated as a songwriter.
5. “The Inner Light”
Released as a non-album single as the B-side to “Lady Madonna” in March 1968, “The Inner Light” showed the Beatles’ commitment to Transcendental Meditation, which they had been studying in India. The classical Indian influence throughout the song gives it a similar feel to other songs of Harrison’s with the Beatles, such as “Within You Without You,” which appears on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The lyrics of “The Inner Light” discuss spiritual enlightenment and inner peace; endeavors that were very important to George. “The Inner Light” was the first of George Harrison’s songs with the Beatles to be released as a single. The song’s unique sound sets it apart from the rest of the Beatles’ discography. After George Harrison’s passing in 2001, Jeff Lynne and Anoushka Shankar performed a touching rendition of “The Inner Light” at the Concert for George tribute event in November 2002.
4. “I Me Mine”
George Harrison wrote “I Me Mine” in January of 1969 in Twickenham Film Studios in London. At this time, the Beatles hadn’t toured since 1966 and were considering returning to tour life. Although they had released several widely successful albums while they were off the road, there were many problems at hand and quite a bit of tension between members of the band. “I Me Mine” was the last new track ever recorded by the Beatles before their breakup in 1970. The song was released on “Let it Be,” the Beatles’ twelfth and final studio album and serves as a perfect final recording for the group. In “I Me Mine,” George Harrison highlights the self-centered nature of humankind, something he was openly opposed to as he furthered his knowledge of Hindu texts and practices. The song also serves a jab at his fellow Beatles, as he not-so-subtly sings of their overpowering egos; a serious contribution to their split as a group. “I Me Mine” has a much deeper meaning than meets the eye and is a beautiful farewell song for the Beatles. In addition to its musical legacy, George Harrison became the first Beatle to release a memoir when he released his autobiography titled “I Me Mine” in 1980.
3. “Here Comes the Sun”
One of the Beatles’ most defining releases, “Here Comes the Sun” is a classic feel good tune released on the 1969 album “Abbey Road.” Possibly the most renowned contribution to the Beatles by George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun” is the most frequently streamed Beatles song on Spotify, with over 600 million plays. If you imagined George Harrison sitting outside in the spring sun with a guitar writing this song, you were absolutely right. In early 1969, George Harrison skipped a meeting with the Beatles’ Apple Corps label to visit friend Eric Clapton at his country house. George sat outside in the grass and wrote the beautiful, soft “Here Comes the Sun” on an early spring day in Ewhurst, England. The song has appeared in countless movies, advertisements and has been covered by many notable artists, including Nina Simone, Sheryl Crow and Paul Simon.
Released on the Beatles’ 1969 album “Abbey Road” alongside “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something” proved that George Harrison was a talented songwriter, even in the wake of the classic McCartney/Lennon songwriting trope. The song is often regarded as one of George Harrison’s most impressive feats and was subsequently placed as the number two track on side A of the album. It was the first Harrison-composed track to be featured on side A of a Beatles record. Upon release, “Something” reached the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, Australia and Canada and peaked at number four on UK charts. In addition to its beautiful lyrics, the love song features an impressive guitar solo by Harrison that critics often consider to be some of his best playing and Rolling Stone magazine placed “Something” at 6th on its 100 Greatest Beatles Songs of All Time list. Harrison wrote “Something” about his then wife Pattie Boyd, who later married Eric Clapton. The song is considered to be the second most covered Beatles song in history with notable covers by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, falling short only to “Yesterday.” “Something” is a timeless love song that continues its legacy over 50 years after its release.
1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
This incredible track appears on The Beatles’ self-titled ninth studio album, better known as “The White Album.” Following their return from a Transcendental Meditation retreat in India in 1968, the Beatles were each coming into their own and growing apart. In search of inspiration, Harrison adopted an exercise inspired by his reading of the Chinese “I Ching” (translated as “Book of Changes”). The basic idea he was working with was the Eastern concept that everything that occurs is related to each other (everything happens for a reason), as opposed to occurrences being merely coincidental and meaningless. This concept led Harrison to pick up a book and write a song based on the first word he saw, resting on the thought that his seeing it must be an act of fate. Fortunately, the first phrase he saw was “gently weeps” and the rest is history. Upon hearing the song for the first time, the other members of the band were not in favor of the song making the album; a defining moment of separation between them. Of course, the song did make it on the album by the time of its release and even featured Eric Clapton on guitar, a controversial decision on Harrison’s part. Due to the Beatles’ great success as a unit, they rarely featured any outside help in their music. George’s decision to include Clapton as a lead guitarist on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” showed his bandmates that he was serious about the song and was ultimately the element that helped him place it on “The White Album” officially. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was well received by the public and is ranked at the number 136 spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. It continues to prove George Harrison as a talented songwriter and instrumentalist decades after its release.