The opening track on George Harrison’s first post-Beatles album was a rare songwriting collaboration with Bob Dylan.
‘I’d Have You Anytime’ was a low-key opening track, without much of Phil Spector’s wall of sound production, which often overwhelmed the songs on All Things Must Pass.
Harrison wrote the song with Dylan at the latter’s home in Woodstock, New York during November 1968. Harrison had flown to America following the completion of The Beatles’ White Album, spending time in the company of Dylan and The Band. He later completed ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ on his own.
I liked ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ because of Bob Dylan. I was with Bob and he had gone through his broken neck period and was being very quiet, and he didn’t have much confidence. That’s the feeling I got with him in Woodstock. He hardly said a word for a couple of days. Anyway, we finally got the guitars out and it loosened things up a bit. It was really a nice time with all his kids around, and we were just playing. It was near Thanksgiving. He sang me that song and he was very nervous and shy and he said, ‘What do you think about this song?’ And I had felt strongly about Bob when I had been in India years before, the only record I took with me along with all my Indian records was Blonde On Blonde. I somehow got very close to him, you know, because he was so great, so heavy and so observant about everything. And yet, to find him later very nervous and with no confidence. But the thing he said on Blonde On Blonde about what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice, ‘Oh mama, can this really be the end?’ And I thought, ‘Isn’t it great?’ because I know people are going to think, ‘Shit, what’s Dylan doing?’ But as far as I was concerned, it was great for him to realise his own peace and it meant something. You know, he had always been so hard and I thought, ‘A lot of people are not going to like this,’ but I think it’s fantastic because Bob has obviously had the experience.
The composing session that yielded ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ was recorded, with Harrison and Dylan playing acoustic guitars. Also on the tape was a demo of ‘Nowhere To Go’, occasionally known as ‘When Everybody Comes To Town’ on bootleg releases.
Choosing to open All Things Must Pass with the mid-tempo ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ may have been inspired by The Band’s Music From Big Pink, which began with the similarly stately ‘Tears Of Rage’. Previously, it had been a convention in the music industry that pop and rock albums should begin with an upbeat cut to catch the listener’s attention.
It just seemed like a good thing to do… And maybe subconsciously I needed a bit of support. I had Eric playing the solo, and Bob had helped write it, so it could have been something to do with that.
Lyrically, ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ was a far cry from Dylan’s wildly inventive earlier wordplay, or Harrison’s social satire and odes of love.
Seemingly composed of words chosen for their sound and rhyming qualities rather than their emotional weight, I’d Have You Anytime nonetheless reflected a mood of carefree optimism that Harrison felt, both in Dylan’s company and during the recording of All Things Must Pass.
I was saying to him, ‘You write incredible lyrics,’ and he was saying, ‘How do you write those tunes?’ So I was just showing him chords like crazy, and I was saying, ‘Come on, write me some words,’ and he was scribbling words down and it just killed me because he had been doing all these sensational lyrics. And he wrote, ‘All I have is yours/All you see is mine/And I’m glad to hold you in my arms/I’d have you anytime.’ The idea of Dylan writing something, like, so very simple, was amazing to me.
The lyrics also inspired Harrison’s erstwhile bandmate Paul McCartney. Wings’ 1973 album Band On The Run featured a song, ‘Let Me Roll It’, which took its title and chorus lyrics from ‘I’d Have You Anytime’.
In the studio
‘I’d Have You Anytime’ was recorded during the All Things Must Pass sessions, which took place between May and October 1970 at London’s EMI Studios (Abbey Road), Trident Studios and Apple Studios.
The string arrangement was by John Barham, a musician who had been a close friend to Harrison since 1966. Barham or drummer Alan White also played xylophone on the recording.
Phil Spector left the All Things Must Pass sessions in June 1970, leaving Harrison to continue recording without him.
Harrison sent early mixes of most of the album’s songs to Spector, who was recuperating in Los Angeles following a fall. On 19 August 1970, the producer wrote a letter in which he outlined his thoughts on the album’s progress.
IF NOT FOR YOU:
The mix I heard also had the voice too buried. Performance was fine. It also should be remixed when the entire album is remixed.
I’LL HAVE YOU ANYTIME:
Same comments as “IF NOT FOR YOU”
‘I’d Have You Anytime’ wasn’t always intended to be All Things Must Pass’s opening song. A three-disc production acetate was pressed ahead of the album’s release and, although the third disc, Apple Jam, had the same running order as the commercial release, the other two discs were significantly different.
The four sides of the first two acetate discs were labelled This Side, That Side, And Another Side, and The Other Side. These sides, however, may not have been in the order Harrison intended them to be in.
‘I’d Have You Anytime’ opened And Another Side, followed by ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, and ‘Beware Of Darkness’.
That guitar solo is one of my favourites on any of the Beatles’ (separate or as a band) recording.