65/66 Songwriting | George Harrison | Fab forum

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65/66 Songwriting
28 June 2012
11.43am
meanmistermustard
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Did George's songwriting only really start to kick in in 1966? Was thinking of Wait on Rubber Soul and how it was added because they had nothing else but i always took that as being John & Paul, but wouldnt they have also asked George as well. Admittedly he had already written 2 on Rubber Soul but he did sing lead on three songs on With The Beatles so there wasnt a 2 song limit. So did he have nothing else ready? We know that a few songs that were recorded on All Things Must Pass originated from '66 so he was starting to have a reserve then.

Maybe it was the same as with John and Paul, the '65 time pressures were lifted in '66 with a let up in their schedules.  

He told us not to get overwhelmed by grief and whatever thoughts we have... to keep them happy, because any thoughts we have of him will travel to him wherever he is. (John Lennon - 27/8/67)
28 June 2012
4.27pm
Joe
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I think you're right. He didn't do a lot in 1964; I think You Know What To Do (on Anthology) was his only recorded composition that year, and even that was just a demo. I presume he was writing in 63/64 and gradually getting better, but still wasn't producing good enough stuff to get on an album.

By the time they were making Rubber Soul they weren't really doing covers - IIRC the last one was Act Naturally on Help!. They revived Wait from the Help! sessions, as you say, and also What Goes On from the early days. Presumably George didn't have anything usable lying around.

Maybe LSD helped kick open the doors. He was also quite busy learning about Indian music at the time. His guitar playing got a lot better when he stopped trying to be Carl Perkins and listened to other types of music - The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar etc.

It's possible that he got a third song on Revolver (I Want To Tell You) partly because Lennon wasn't being very productive at that point in 1966. He also helped Lennon finish off She Said She Said, right at the very end of the sessions. He was definitely getting better - good enough to have Taxman as the lead song on the album.

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28 June 2012
8.57pm
GeorgeTSimpson
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I think his songwriting on help and Rubber Soul was quite good, but his revolver songs (except taxman) were a bit too experimental for me and so all his songs were until White Album (many say john was reborn in the White Album, I'd say it was george with 4 great songs and two other awesome songs (not guilty, sour milk sea) not released (at least not as beatles songs), after which (with the exception of yellow submarine) all his songs were great

Once there was a way to get back homewards. Once there was a way to get back home; sleep pretty darling do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby
28 June 2012
9.16pm
mr. Sun king coming together
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It's the evolution of being a songwriter, I think. George had in 1963/64/65 what Lennon and McCartney had in 1960/61/62. By 1966, with his expanded tastes and LSD, he started to bloom as Lennon did in 1964 and as Paul did in 1965. George was a quick study, and he ended up catching them by 1968, at least to me. Not Guilty, Savoy Truffle and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, plus others written then that I'm forgetting, that was when he caught up. He was starting later, but he sped up really quick in 1966. 

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
29 June 2012
3.23pm
Joe
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I'd love to know, a) why he didn't write any Indian music for the White Album, and b) why Piggies and/or Savoy Truffle were chosen over the far better Not Guilty. Probably because it was written about the other Beatles.

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29 June 2012
4.07pm
Inner Light
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I love the line George said from the documentary when he was asked why he wrote 'Don't Bother Me', he said it was an exercise to see if he could write a song and said that he felt if John and Paul could write songs, then anyone could. George was an interesting character. 

I think the reason why he did not have any sitar related songs on the 'White Album' is because he said that he wasn't playing the sitar that much at that point. I think he felt he would never get great at it. I know how he feels. I try playing my sitar and it is a very complex instrument. I really puts everything in prospective.

The further one travels, the less one knows
29 June 2012
4.18pm
Joe
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But he produced the Wonderwall Music and The Inner Light sessions in India in early 1968, then in the summer spent weeks there with Maharishi. I'm still surprised that it had a negligible impact on his songwriting. It's almost as if The Beatles said "The public know we've gone to India; it would be too obvious for our music to go that way too", and they went in every other direction instead.

Good point about learning the sitar. I wonder if "The farther one travels the less one really knows" is why (almost?) none of his solo stuff sounds particularly Indian.

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29 June 2012
4.49pm
meanmistermustard
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Didnt Ravi encourage George to reacqaint himself with the guitar in '68. I remember reading somewhere recently that George realised that the sitar would take years to learn to a high standard and that there were far superior musicians who had been playing it for years but hadnt gotten to trully know the instrument.

Those may have contributed to the absence of Indian music; it would be difficult to write more Indian songs when playing Western instruments.

 

Was reading a book about the White Album a few weeks ago will see if its in there.

He told us not to get overwhelmed by grief and whatever thoughts we have... to keep them happy, because any thoughts we have of him will travel to him wherever he is. (John Lennon - 27/8/67)
30 June 2012
5.23pm
Inner Light
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meanmistermustard said
Didnt Ravi encourage George to reacqaint himself with the guitar in '68. I remember reading somewhere recently that George realised that the sitar would take years to learn to a high standard and that there were far superior musicians who had been playing it for years but hadnt gotten to trully know the instrument.

Those may have contributed to the absence of Indian music; it would be difficult to write more Indian songs when playing Western instruments.

 

Was reading a book about the White Album a few weeks ago will see if its in there.

I believe you are right here regarding George realizing that he would never master the sitar. Also I think that George did not play sitar on 'Wonderwall' and 'The Inner Light' If I recall, I think he had other Indian musicians playing the instruments.

The further one travels, the less one knows
3 September 2012
2.45am
Holsety
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mr. Sun king coming together said
 - he started to bloom as Lennon did in 1964 and as Paul did in 1965. George was a quick study, and he ended up catching them by 1968. 

I've always thought John bloomed by 65; Help, specifically. Paul really did in '66, considering his work on Revolver is incredible. George really became a great songwriter by Abbey Road, where all his compositions on it are considered some of the best the Beatles ever did. I think he started to get it by the time he wrote Taxman, though; it is pretty underrated though, unfortunately.

Personally, I think his work on Help! is pretty good, too; although considering they were dropping songs like That Means A Lot because they couldn't sing them well enough (in their opinion, don't judge me), George wasn't on par until Abbey Road. Although, Not Guilty and Savoy Truffle are some of my favorites.

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping~.
3 September 2012
8.37am
fabfouremily
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John started to bloom in '64 and in particular, 'A Hard Day's Night'. I always thought that he was stronger on that than on 'Help!',though of course he wrote some goodies for that too.

I think that George was getting better by 1966 (''Taxman'' being the proof) but wasn't considered, by anybody at the time (I think), that good. He only started to really blossom with the White Album and then of course, 'Abbey Road'.

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3 September 2012
9.07am
The Walrus
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I've never been a fan of George's stuff on Help! I don't like I Need You very much, except for the ascending "please come on back to me" vocal (even if it is off key) and then the "you don't want my loving any more" line which kind of... dips. You Like Me Too Much is probably the most forgettable song on the album.

If I Needed Someone and Think For Yourself are better than the songs on Help!, but they're still not on the level of most Lennon-McCartney compositions.

Revolver is where George really takes off, his songs are par for the excellent course, though overshadowed by Tomorrow Never Knows and Eleanor Rigby (what songs wouldn't be?).

Thank goodness Ravi encouraged George to play the guitar more- I much prefer his guitar songs (from '67 onwards) to the ones with the sitar.

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
3 September 2012
4.42pm
Holsety
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I feel like John bloomed in '65 because all three of his compositions on side A of Help! are very memorable Beatles songs. As for George, I like his Rubber Soul compositions both remind me of other good songs. Although by Revolver, he got 3 songs on the record, one of them beginning it. He had that sitar kick for a little while too.. And since his regular writing was at a standstill, by the time he decided he ought to write some other songs again, he kinda ended up where he left off. That being said, he really was something special by Revolver, but people didn't really recognize his talent until Abbey Road.

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping~.
3 September 2012
8.28pm
Ben Ramon
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The Walrus said
I've never been a fan of George's stuff on Help! I don't like I Need You very much, except for the ascending "please come on back to me" vocal (even if it is off key) and then the "you don't want my loving any more" line which kind of... dips. You Like Me Too Much is probably the most forgettable song on the album.

I kind of agree with you here, I've sometimes found I Need You to be a bit overrated. Don't think it's ever off key though?

If I Needed Someone and Think For Yourself are better than the songs on Help!, but they're still not on the level of most Lennon-McCartney compositions.

I can take or leave Think For Yourself, it's mainly the fuzz bass which gives it character to be honest. But If I Needed Someone is for me George's first masterpiece- that beautiful jangling guitar riff and the incredible harmonies- not to mention that immortal lyric "carve your number on my wall and maybe you will get a call from me." I've often wondered if I could try that on a girl I fancied who was a Beatles nut and hope she'd get the reference.

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4 September 2012
7.46am
Joaco
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Ben Ramon said

But If I Needed Someone is for me George's first masterpiece- that beautiful jangling guitar riff and the incredible harmonies- not to mention that immortal lyric "carve your number on my wall and maybe you will get a call from me." I've often wondered if I could try that on a girl I fancied who was a Beatles nut and hope she'd get the reference.

 

Haha, not sure that'd be a good idea.

 

Well, notice how this somehow coincides with the period where they became a "studio band".  I'm pretty sure having more time for themselves allowed for George to develop his talent as a composer better.

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