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George Harrison’s Best Songs with The Beatles

George Harrison’s Best Songs with The Beatles

The Inner Light (song) - Wikipedia
The Inner Light single release

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. 

2. “Something”

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. 

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Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery: The Best Covers of Beatles Songs

Kurt Cobain performing his cover of “And I Love Her”

Often regarded as the most influential band of all time, it’s not hard to imagine that The Beatles have had their songs covered by other artists thousands of times. Their timeless repertoire proves its impact again and again each time an artist creates their own rendition of a song. Almost 60 years later, The Beatles’ music continues to be performed, evolved and cherished. While these following three songs are the most frequently covered Beatles songs, nearly all Beatles songs have been covered by other notable artists and I encourage you to listen to them. 

“Yesterday”

From their 1965 release “Help!” the Beatles’ “Yesterday” quickly reached number one on US charts and placed in the top 10 in several countries in Europe. Since its release, “Yesterday” has been covered more than 2,200 times and is likely to be the most covered song in history. Notable artists to cover the song include Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and countless others. All of these artists take their own creative liberties with “Yesterday”, providing their own personal touch and adding a new life to the song. While each of these artists does a brilliant job, no cover of “Yesterday” is quite like Aretha Franklin’s. Performed live in 1979, Aretha Franklin delivers a beautiful, soulful rendition of the classic that fans will never forget.

Aretha Franklin performing “Yesterday” live from YouTube

“And I Love Her”

Short and sweet, this Beatles classic from their 1964 release “A Hard Day’s Night” is the perfect love song to be reworked over and over again. Famous covered versions of  “And I Love Her” include the renditions of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Sarah Vaughan, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Bobby Womack. Each of these covers creates an entirely different interpretation of “And I Love Her,” providing the chance for the listener to hear the song from the perspective of several different genres, from jazz to reggae. Although it seems that “And I Love Her” has been manipulated every way possible, an important facet of the song would be missing without Kurt Cobain’s cover. Cobain’s beautiful rendition of “And I Love Her” was released in 2015, years after his passing, and peaked at number two on US charts and number one in the UK. His dark, profound cover is the perfect chilling counterpart to the original light, airy Beatles version.

Kurt Cobain’s Cover of “And I Love Her” from YouTube

“Blackbird”

Written and performed as a solo piece by Paul McCartney, “Blackbird” was released in 1968 as a part of the Beatles’ double self-titled album, known commonly as “The White Album.” The song “Blackbird” peaked at number nine on US charts and was ranked similarly in the UK and other European countries. With hundreds of covers, “Blackbird” continues to be a beloved Beatles song. Notable renditions of the song come from Carly Simon, Zac Brown Band, Phish and Anderson .Paak. In the 53 years since its release, “Blackbird” has been performed as a country song, an R&B ballad and everything in between. A perfect addition to the wide array of “Blackbird” covers is the performance of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Less defiant of the original recording than covers of other genres, Crosby, Stills and Nash perform a simple and touching cover of “Blackbird” with beautiful harmonies.

Crosby, Stills and Nash performing “Blackbird” live from YouTube

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Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

The Making of Led Zeppelin’s Final Album – In Through the Out

Days Before “In Through the Out Door”

By 1979, Led Zeppelin seemed to be at the tail end of an 11-year reign over rock music. After the release of their seventh studio album, “Presence”, in 1976, the band decided not to tour due to a number of personal issues, beginning a long period of silence for Zeppelin. The cancellation of the tour was due in part to a serious car accident involving Robert Plant and in part to Jimmy Page’s alleged drug abuse. The band did end up touring very briefly in 1977, although the tour was cut short due to the death of Plant’s five-year-old son, Karac. Prior to the release of the band’s final LP, “In Through the Out Door”, the future of Led Zeppelin was all but determined and it was unclear whether any new music would be released again. It seemed as if the greatest rock band of the 1970’s was finally expiring. 

Inner-Zeppelin Turmoil

The making of “In Through the Out Door” defined a clear separation among the members of the band. The majority of the album was written by multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones and vocalist Robert Plant; a surprising deviation from the usual Page and Plant songwriting dynamic. Prior to the release of “In Through the Out Door”, guitarist Jimmy Page had been credited with taking a hand in writing every Led Zeppelin song released, aside from covers. On the final album, Page was noticeably absent from writing credits on “All My Love” and “South Bound Suarez”. Both Jones and Plant have suggested to multiple sources that they took the primary hand in creating “In Through the Out Door” and that the separation among the band members was clear in its production. In discussing the absence of Page in a 1991 interview, John Paul Jones stated, “We were left alone quite a lot of the time, along with [drummer John Bonham], and so we tended to get on with it, I think. I suppose you could say that “In Through the Out Door” is my album, the way “Presence” was Jimmy’s album.” Although it seems that Jimmy Page had very little to do with the album, he was still given the producer’s credit. He has been recorded in several interviews stating that he actually had more involvement in the album than it seemed. In an interview with “Mojo”Page stated, “‘In Through the Out Door’ was done in a little over three weeks, so I couldn’t have been in that bad a shape,” alluding to his rumored drug abuse in the years following “Presence” and preceding “In Through the Out Door”No matter the exact details of the delegation of the album’s production, it was clear that there was definitely some separation among the band members that was not present in previous albums. 

The Release

“In Through the Out Door” was released in August of 1979 as Led Zeppelin’s eighth studio album. Overall, the album was well-regarded by the public and was most definitely comparable to earlier successful Zeppelin works. The album debuted at No. 1 on both American and European charts and it was clear that fans had been made to wait far too long for new music. The album is yet another example of Led Zeppelin’s incredible range and fearlessness towards musical experimentation. Songs such as “Fool in the Rain” show John Bonham’s impressive drum work, as well as an incredible solo and multiple creative run by Page on guitar. The integration of Latin music and samba beat influences in the song further exhibit the recurring creative risks present on every Zeppelin album. The most notable creative liberties taken on “In Through the Out Door” undoubtedly come from John Paul Jones, with his use of multiple instruments, such as a synthesizer. This was possibly John Paul Jones’ most significant work. Without the regular influence of Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin was in serious need of an instrumental frontman, and Jonesy stepped right in. His growing role in the band was apparent and he subsequently received much more praise and recognition than he previously had. Although the album is quite different from the more rock-heavy albums that Zeppelin had previously released, “In Through the Out Door” was an important addition to the band’s repertoire and lives on as an important album in rock history. 

“All My Love”

Possibly the most notable track on the LP is “All My Love”, one of only two Led Zeppelin songs that Jimmy Page did not have a hand in writing. Although it may be one of Led Zeppelin’s most widely known songs, the band considers it to be something entirely different from their usual releases. It is clear that Page’s absence took a bit of Zeppelin’s hard rock element out of the equation, as “All My Love” is often credited as being one of their ‘softest’ songs released. Both Jimmy Page and John Bonham can be found expressing their disapproval of “All My Love” to multiple sources. In an interview with “Light and Shade”, Page stated, “I could just imagine people doing the wave and all of that. And I thought ‘That is not us. That is not us’,” alluding to the  more soft and intimate feel that accompanied “All My Love”. Another quote by Page in the same interview states, “In its place it was fine, but I would not have wanted to pursue that direction in the future.” Of course, the song did end up on the final version of “In Through the Out Door”, even after the artistic disapproval of Page and Bonham. Despite their concern with the softness of the song, “All My Love” was ultimately included on the album because of Plant’s undeniably beautiful vocal performance and pure passion. “All My Love” is not a song of Plant’s declaration of romantic love, as many listeners may assume. Robert Plant wrote the lyrics of “All My Love” as a tribute to his late son, Karac, who passed away in 1977 at the age of 5. The death of Plant’s son was a devastating loss for him, as well as the band. “All My Love” is a timeless classic rock ballad that shows a more intimate side of Led Zeppelin, furthering proving their mastery of range. 

Sources: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/217029/light-and-shade-by-brad-tolinski/

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Classic Album Review

The Making of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”

Days Before “Rumours”

Prior to the making of “Rumours”the band was in a great period of growth. Just two years before the release of “Rumours” in 1977, Fleetwood Mac released their self-titled tenth studio album, commonly referred to as “The White Album” by Fleetwood Mac fans. This was their first album featuring Stevie Nicks as vocalist and Lindsey Buckingham as guitarist, a duo that would later become monumental to rock and roll. Just over a year after its release on July 11, 1975, “Fleetwood Mac” reached number one on US charts and later peaked at number 23 on UK charts. This was the first number one record for the band and a major accomplishment. Fleetwood Mac was finally thrust into the spotlight after nearly 10 years as a band and several changes in members. 

Inner-band Turmoil 

            From 1975 until the late ‘80s, Fleetwood Mac maintained its most commonly known lineup, consisting of vocalist Stevie Nicks, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, vocalist Christine McVie, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. With new success and more than one inner-band relationship, the five members of Fleetwood Mac were swarming with the drama of love, fame and money. The majority of the recording of “Rumours” took place in 1976 California. This was shortly after the romantic split of the long-time relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Following their split, the two maintained a professional relationship courtesy of Fleetwood Mac, creating some drama-filled song writing material. To add to the band’s stress, Christine McVie was in the middle of divorcing her husband, bassist John McVie. These failing relationships put great pressure on Fleetwood Mac and created some of the most beautiful music of all time.

The Release

            Upon its release on February 4, 1977, “Rumours” reached number one on US and UK charts. The songs “Dreams”, “Go You Own Way”, “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun” were released as singles, all of which placed in the top 10 on US charts. The album was wildly successful and continued to gain popularity throughout the course of the band’s international promotional tour. “Rumours” was critically acclaimed for its brilliant lyrics and stunning harmonies, provided by the interchanging dominance of three talented vocalists. The album was named Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammy awards and maintains its position as the eleventh highest-selling record of all time, with over 40 million copies sold. As of “Rolling Stones”’ 2020 ranking of the 500 greatest albums of all time, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” falls at number seven. It was clear from the success of “Rumours” that Fleetwood Mac had become a major name in rock music in the 1970s. Their success would continue with a run of three highly praised albums following “Rumours”: “Tusk”, “Tango in the Night” and “Behind the Mask”. They continue to be regarded as one of the most influential bands of all time. 

-Hannah