‘Dark Sweet Lady’ was also written in Hawaii because Olivia requested I write a Spanish type of song. It sounds to me a bit Hawaiian/Spanish.
I Me Mine
The song was written at the suggestion of the album’s co-producer Russ Titelman. It was the first song recorded for the George Harrison album, at Amigo Studios in Los Angeles, before the sessions moved to Friar Park.
He was going to Hawaii and he was going to come back through Los Angeles. I said, ‘Why don’t you write a song about Olivia?’ He came back with ‘Dark Sweet Lady’ and we booked a session and recorded that song at Amigo in North Hollywood. It was the only thing we recorded in America.
Uncut, May 2020
In the mid-1970s Harrison had frequently indulged in drink and drugs, particularly in 1974 when he split up with Pattie Boyd and embarked on a troubled North American tour.
Well, I wasn’t ready to join Alcoholics Anonymous or anything – I don’t think I was that far gone – but I could put back a bottle of brandy occasionally, plus all the other naughty things that fly around. I just went on a binge, went on the road … all that sort of thing, until it got to the point where I had no voice and almost no body at times. Then I met Olivia and it all worked out fine. There’s a song on the new album, ‘Dark Sweet Lady’: ‘You came and helped me through/When I’d let go/You came from out the blue/Never have known what I’d done without you.’ That sums it up.
Rolling Stone, 19 April 1979
Towards the end of the decade he found contentment with Olivia Arias, who became his second wife in 1978. ‘Dark Sweet Lady’ was written for her in Hawaii.
George loved the tropics and was always happiest there. He was inspired and wrote several songs during those days – ‘Dark Sweet Lady’, ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ and ‘Here Comes The Moon’, the lyrics of which are dated 25/2, his birthday. The local general store stocked guava jam, bamboo fishing poles and machetes, but was short of gifts for the man who has everything, so I bought George lots of pens and paper to encourage the writing and, as I read the lyrics from that period, I’m glad I did. We swam in black lave rock ponds with names like Venus Pool and a tiny cottage on a bay became our luxury home for those days – the greatest luxury being the absence of a telephone and freedom from the usual demands on George’s time. The locals bestowed upon us not only privacy and Aloha spirit, but also tropical flowers we had never seen before; shell, torch and kahili gingers mixed with fragrant plumeria leis. We couldn’t wait to return and plant our own tropical garden. Over the years, Derek [Taylor] and Brian [Roylance] became guest gardeners, leaving a lush legacy of their visits with us.
I Me Mine, 2002 edition