‘Try Some, Buy Some’ is the ninth song on George Harrison’s fourth solo album Living In The Material World.

The song itself, I think, is really good. It’s so simple yet so complicated. It was the sort of thing I found myself playing over and over again and being amazed by the simplicity of the movement of the bass lines.
George Harrison
Record Mirror, 15 April 1972

Harrison gave the song to Ronnie Spector, for a planned comeback album to be released by Apple Records. A handful of songs were produced by her husband Phil Spector before the project ended.

‘Try Some, Buy Some’ was released as a single in April 1971, although it was not a commercial success. Harrison reused the backing track and added new lead vocals before releasing it on Living In The Material World.

‘Try Some, Buy Some’ was written on the organ and as I don’t know the instruments well enough I got into all these complications. With keyboards you can do changes which you can’t really do well or at all on the guitar; you can move the bass line down and keep changing your right hand forward, changing the different notes, and this tune was based on these weird chords that I got. I couldn’t play both parts (left and right hand) at the same time and I had a friend write it down for me – as I don’t write notation.

Someone said try some
I tried some
Now buy some
I bought some

Even though the words are mundane if the attitude is directed back towards the source, then it it becomes more spiritual for me and has more meaning, even though it can still be regarded as a simple tune.

George Harrison
I Me Mine

Recording began in February 1971 at Abbey Road, with Harrison and Spector co-producing Ronnie Spector. Also recorded was ‘Tandoori Chicken’, the b-side of her single. and versions of ‘When Every Song Is Sung’ and ‘You’.

Phil couldn’t last in the studio for more than a few hours. We did about four very rough backing tracks [for Ronnie Spector]. A couple of the songs Phil had written. One of them was very good in his pop vein.

He liked my ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ so we orchestrated it and knocked off a B-side for a Ronnie single on Apple in ’71. The b-side’s a killer, ‘Tandoori Chicken’. It’s a 12-bar thing done on the spot with Mal, our roadie and Joe the chauffeur – “I told Mal/My old pal/To go with Joe/And they should go/And get some tandoori chicken.” And a great big bottle of wine! [laughter] We did it one-take, with a lot of improvised scat singing in the middle. It’s hysterical.

George Harrison
George Harrison: Reconsidered, Timothy White

The single was released by Apple Records on 16 April 1971 in the UK, and three days later in the USA. It failed to chart in the UK, and peaked at 77 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Instead of re-recording the song, Harrison revisited Spector’s version during the Living In The Material World sessions, adding new vocals over the 1971 backing track. During the mix Leon Russell’s piano and Pete Ham’s guitar were omitted.

David Bowie recorded ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ for his 2003 album Reality, and performed it during his final tour in 2003-4.

George’s song, ‘Try Some, Buy Some’, means a lot to me now. When I first heard that song it had a very different narrative to it. Now my connection to the song is about leaving a way of life behind me and finding something new. It’s overstated about most rock artists leaving drugs, it’s such a bore to read about it. But when I first heard the song in ’74 I was yet to go through my heavy drug period. And now it’s about the consolation of having kicked all that and turning your life around.
David Bowie
The Word, October 2003

Previous song: ‘Be Here Now’
Next song: ‘The Day The World Gets ’Round’
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