Unpublished George Harrison lyrics go on show at British Library

Previously unseen lyrics written by George Harrison, written in early 1967, today went on permanent display at the British Library in London.

Unpublished lyrics by George Harrison, 1967

The untitled song was written at a time when The Beatles were working on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is unknown whether Harrison ever put music to the words.

They were discovered by Hunter Davies, who in 1968 published The Beatles, a best-selling authorised biography of the group. While working on a new edition of the book Davies found the lyrics in his archive of Beatles material.

In its introduction to the new edition of his biography, Davies recalls how he collected Beatles lyrics discarded as scrap paper from the floor of EMI Studios, Abbey Road, and kept them as souvenirs. The Harrison song is thought to be now worth tens of thousands of pounds.

They would come to the studio in the evening with a written song and give it to John or Ringo. It was all left on the floor. I asked if I could take them. They said of course.
Hunter Davies

The lyrics have been authenticated by Harrison’s former wife, Pattie Boyd, and his widow, Olivia Harrison. It has been speculated that the words refer to Harrison’s often uneasy relationship with John Lennon.

Im happy to say that its only a dream
when I come across people like you,
its only a dream and you make it obscene
with the things that you think and you do.
your so unaware of the pain that I bear
and jealous for what you cant do.
There’s times when I feel that you haven’t a hope
but I also know that isn’t true.

On the reverse side of the lyrics are detailed instructions on how to get to Warbleton, East Sussex, where Beatles manager Brian Epstein had a country retreat. The instructions were written by Epstein, and mean the lyrics must have been written prior to his death in August 1967.

I asked all of the Beatles for examples of their handwriting and George gave me this. But a few months later he gave me the lyrics to ‘Blue Jay Way’ so I forgot all about it.

I can’t believe I’d kept George’s lyric all these years but had forgotten about it until now! Although George is no longer around to tell us what the inspiration was for the song, I’m glad the lyric will be on display at the British Library for generations of Beatles fans to enjoy.

Hunter Davies

The lyrics are on public display for the first time, alongside eight other items lent to the library by Davies, in the British Library’s Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Much of the Library’s Beatles collection is on loan from Davies, who plans to leave it to the nation in his will. The collection features a wide range of memorabilia including the lyrics of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, written by John Lennon on the back of a birthday card to his son Julian.

Also on display are concert tickets, a fan club membership card, a printed Christmas fanzine letter, an untitled verse written by Lennon and an early photo of the group.

Last updated: 9 March 2023
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