‘Hear Me Lord’ is perhaps the most openly emotional song on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, a naked plea to the creator for forgiveness, and assistance to cope and love and find direction. Proof, were it needed, that John Lennon was not the only former Beatle in 1970 baring his soul in song.
Curiously, given its status as the closing song on the main part of All Things Must Pass, Harrison did not mention it in his autobiography I Me Mine, and only performed it live on one known occasion.
In the studio
Harrison: I wrote a gospel song over the weekend, lads.
Lennon: According to Saint Who?
Harrison: According to the Lord. ‘Hear Me Lord’.
He first played the song on an acoustic guitar, then several times on an electric guitar with wah-wah pedal. An attempt at putting forward the song ‘All Things Must Pass’ on the same day was met with similar indifference by the rest of The Beatles.
On 27 May 1970, Harrison and Phil Spector met at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, to discuss the All Things Must Pass project. Accompanying himself on guitar in Studio Three, Harrison performed fifteen songs he had written, to allow the producer to assess their suitability for further recording. Among them was ‘Hear Me Lord’, for which he swapped to an electric guitar.
The album version was recorded at EMI Studios on 24 June 1970.
Spector left the All Things Must Pass sessions in June 1970 for health reasons, leaving Harrison to continue recording backing tracks and overdubs without him.
Harrison sent a set of early mixes to Spector, who was convalescing in Los Angeles. On 19 August 1970, the producer wrote a letter outlining his thoughts on the album’s progress, plus more specific notes about 18 of the songs.
15. HEAR ME LORD:
Still needs horns or other orchestration. The vocal should be checked out to see if it is okay in performance and level.
‘Hear Me Lord’ closed the second disc of All Things Must Pass, ending on a high note before the Apple Jam recordings.
This was not always the intended running order, however. At some point in the production process, a three-disc set of acetate discs was pressed. It did not include any of the ‘Apple Jam’ recordings, but instead contained the following running order, with ‘Hear Me Lord’ ending the second side:
This Side: ‘Art Of Dying’, ‘Apple Scruffs’, ‘The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’, ‘Awaiting On You All’, ‘All Things Must Pass’
That Side: ‘I Dig Love’, ‘What Is Life’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version 2), ‘Hear Me Lord’
And Another Side: ‘I’d Have You Anytime’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ (Version One), ‘Beware Of Darkness’
The Other Side: ‘Wah-Wah’, ‘If Not For You’, ‘Behind That Locked Door’, ‘Let It Down’, ‘Run Of The Mill’
The album take of ‘Hear Me Lord’ was considerably longer than the final mix. On the 2001 reissue of All Things Must Pass its length was extended from 5:46 to 6:01.
Concert for Bangladesh
Two shows took place that day. Harrison performed a final short set at the end of the afternoon show, comprising ‘Hear Me Lord’, ‘My Sweet Lord’, and ‘Bangla Desh’.
By the evening show ‘Hear Me Lord’ had been dropped, and did not appear on either the album The Concert For Bangladesh or the film of the same name.