Featured: "All Things Must Pass" at 50
Aktualisiert: 2. Dez 2020
George, Friar Park, 1970; photo by Barry Feinstein.
George Harrison's All Things Must Pass was released 50 years ago - and the songs stand the test of time; indeed, are as relevant as ever in 2020.
His first post-Beatles solo album (following in the footsteps of 1968's Wonderwall Music and 1969's Electronic Sound) was an epic musical landscape featuring songs Harrison had been stockpiling. The album's explorations of spirituality - then quite a groundbreaking undertaking for a rock musician - would define his solo career the same way his unflinching honesty as a lyricist would.
The album is best explored by listening to the songs, of course. Context and deeper insight can be found by reading more about the background and creation of this milestone album, from the people who created it. The ATMP50 series, and this blog post, seek to do just that. This is a lengthy blog post, so feel free to make a cup of tea or grab some other beverage of choice, and settle in for a deep dive into George's All Things Must Pass.
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: 1960s songwriting
"The first song I ever wrote was 'Don't Bother Me'... We were doing a two-week season in Bournemouth and I was sick and confined to the hotel. I was just staying in bed all day and going to the concert each night. I wrote the song one afternoon, composing it on guitar. I got the music first, with the title - then I filled in the other words later. I suppose it was just an exercise to see if I could write a song. [...] I remember thinking then: 'If they [John Lennon and Paul McCartney] can write I'm sure it can't be that difficult...'" - George Harrison, Record Mirror, 1 January 1972 [see post]
"George contributed some numbers in the past. But it is comparatively recently that he’s expanded his songwriting talents into anything approaching a regular flow. Now, with three tracks on the new album bearing his name, he’s also emerging as a songwriting force within The Beatles’ coterie. But not without a lot of painstaking effort on his part.
‘I’ve been writing songs all the time,’ George told MM. ‘But when you’re competing against John and Paul, you have to be very good to even get in the same league.
‘How do I write a song now? I turn on a tape recorder and play or sing phrases into it for perhaps an hour. Then I play it all back and may get three or four usable phrases to use from it. 'When I just had one tape recorder, I’d finish a song and put it onto the tape recorder. Then I’d often throw it away because it sounded awful. Since I’ve bought all the taping and mixing equipment, I can add things and do a lot more. So what seemed on one machine to be a waste of time, sounds possible when mixed and recorded and perhaps dubbed.’
What about the lyrics?
'This is the hardest part for me. I write them slowly, a word or phrase at a time, changing them about until I get what I want - or as near to it as I can. When the thing is finished, I’m usually happy with some part of it and unhappy with others. So then I show it to John and Paul, whose opinion I respect. 'They usually like the part I don’t like, but think that the other part is all wrong.’" - Melody Maker, 16 July 1966 [see post]
"'You get more confident as you progress. In the old days, I used to say to myself, I’m sure I can write, but it was difficult because of John and Paul. Their standard of writing has bettered over the years, so it was very hard for me to come straight to the top - on par with them, instead of building up like they did.'
'Did you go to John and Paul for advice?' I asked.
'They gave me an awful lot of encouragement. Their reaction has been very good - if it hadn’t I would have crawled away. Now I know what it’s all about, my songs have come more into perspective. All of them are very simple, but simplicity to me may seem very complex to others.
I’ve thrown away about thirty songs, they may have been alright if I’d worked on them, but I didn’t think they were strong enough.
My main trouble is the lyrics. I can’t seem to write down what I want to say - it doesn’t come over literally, so I compromise, usually far too much I suppose. I find that everything makes a song, not just the melody as so many people seem to think, but the words, the technique - the lot.'" - The Beatles Book, October 1966 [see post]
Q: "You don’t look upon yourself as a late developer as regards songwriting then? Because it’s kind of hit everyone in that way, you know."
George Harrison: "Late, early, you know. What’s late and what’s early?"
Q: "(laughs) But you hadn’t really got the reputation as yet as a songwriter, had you?"
GH: "No, no. I wasn’t Lennon or I wasn’t McCartney. I was me. And the only reason I started to write songs was because I thought, well if they can write them, I can write them. You know, ‘cos really, everybody can write songs if they want to. If they have a desire to and if they have sort of some musical knowledge and background. And then it’s by writing them the same as writing books or writing articles or painting — the more you do it, the better or the more you can undertstand how to do it. And I used to just write songs. I still do. I just write a song and it just comes out however it wants to. And some of them are catchy songs like ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and some of them aren’t, you know. But to me they’re just songs and I just write them and some will be considered as good by maybe the masses and some won’t. But to me they’re just songs, things that are there that have to be got out." - Scene and Heard, 8 October 1969 [see post]
"I like the exercise of songwriting. And I like being stimulated to composing something I hear, or think, or say, or read. There was a period — about two years back — when I started believing that the universe was one big song. Things people would say... I’d think, ‘Hey, that’s a song,’ and I’d go off and write it. I feel it’s only a matter of me becoming more aware as a Beatle and as a person. Anybody can do anything if they set their mind to it. [...] The hang-up of playing my songs to John and Paul always used to hold me back, as I’ve said, because I knew how it would sound finished, and I had to try and convince them in one play. For that reason, there are a lot of numbers of mine that I decided not to anything about. It was a shyness — a withdrawal — and I always used to take the easy way out. Now? Well, maybe I’m cocky! Because now, I don’t care if nobody else likes it. It’s a matter of taste. And maybe I don’t like some of their songs either. [...] In the future we’re going to get an equal rights thing, so we all have as much as much on the album. I also thought of doing an album of my own mainly to get rid of all the songs I’ve got stacked up. [...] Summing me up, I don’t mind admitting that I definitely USED TO BE self-conscious. But now I’ve got less hang-ups about everything, not just music." - George Harrison, NME, 1 November 1969 [see post]
"I think it’s possible that [George will] emerge as a great musician and composer next year. It’s up to him! He’s got tremendous drive and imagination and also the ability to show himself as a great composer in a parallel with Lennon and McCartney. He’s already shown he’s capable of writing really beautiful songs. ‘Something’ is one of the most lovely songs of the year!" - George Martin, Disc & Music Echo, December 1969 [see post]
Explore George's songwriting with the hashtag harrisonarchivesongwriting.
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: Thanksgiving at Woodstock with Dylan and The Band
"What was interesting about that day was that not one Beatle song was sung. There was lots of other music being played. George even asked me what I’d like to hear. I said ‘Over the Rainbow’, and he kindly played it - but notone song from his Beatles past. It was music like in the movie De-Lovely - classic, American, a mix of everything, but no rock and roll, no Beatles." - Judith Jamison on the Thanksgiving 1968 gathering at Dylan's house, in an interview with author Joshua M. Greene for Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison [see post]
"Another attraction of the Band was their group ethic and camaraderie, something that Harrison experienced firsthand when he accepted their invitation to spend Thanksgiving 1968 with them in Woodstock. The easygoing mood was a far cry from the tensions at large during the White Album sessions. Where the guitarist would always be ‘our kid,’ the younger brother in the Beatles, with the Band he was an equal.
More than that, Bob Dylan regarded him as a potential musical partner. [...] [David Bromberg recalled] 'My impression of George when I first met him was that he wasn’t really extremely confident, didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and felt like maybe people were mistaking him, or making a mistake, or seeing something that wasn’t there. That was the feeling I got from him.’ It was a picture of a man who felt he couldn’t offer what the mores of the day demanded: 'Everyone was into hot licks, but he didn’t have any. So I feel he didn’t have a glimpse of how really wonderful a musician he was… He was very conscious that he couldn’t read music and that he couldn’t play searing solos off the top of his head. What he could do was worth more to me. He was a beautiful musician, extremely musical. The 'Moonlight Sonata’ is a very simple thing to play on the piano, but it’s beautiful. And beauty is not about technique.’" - While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison [see post]
"A few weeks later George Harrison and his wife, Pattie, came to Woodstock. George had been increasingly outspoken in regard to our music, and we got the impression that he was keen to see what we were up to in this neck of the woods. I think he was the biggest fan among the Beatles of Bob’s writing, and he seemed to have a curiosity about what was happening out in the world, whether in India with the Maharishi, in Haight-Ashbury, or here with us. I asked Albert [Grossman] if they could stay at his place, but for some reason Albert wasn’t that into the idea. Come to think of it, I never did see him play a Beatles record. George and Pattie had Mal Evans, the Beatles’ trusty road manager, with them, and I wanted them to feel welcome and comfortable, so Albert finally agreed. During this period Bob was keeping a very low profile, and when I asked him if he wanted to see George while he was in town, he too was a little iffy at first. What a bunch of grumps we are up here in the Catskills, I thought.
But George was one of the most open people I’d ever met, and Pattie was one of the prettiest and sweetest. George spoke incredibly candidly about the problems within the Beatles. John, he said, was far out on a limb, testing his balance. 'Kinda crazy,' he laughed. And our dear Ringo was following in the tradition of many a hard-drinking Brit - apparently he had threatened to quit the band at one point. George was quick to admit there were serious tensions between Paul and him. 'Whenever I present a tune, the Lennon and McCartney songwriting team will ignore it as long as they can,' he said. 'Sometimes I even have to fight for my guitar parts. Paul has such a clear idea of how the song should go that he tells me what to play, or he wants to play it himself.' I felt bad hearing of their struggles, but with that kind of phenomenal success, insanity couldn’t be lurking too far behind. Hearing George’s inside story gave us even more confidence that our 'under the radar' method might be wise. The Band had been together for several years already and had witnessed Bob’s success close up, so we felt a little immune to the obvious pitfalls of the music business. But we would soon learn that no one is bulletproof when it comes to fame and success." - Robbie Robertson, Testimony
More on the results of the Harrison-Dylan Thanksgiving hangout later on this blog post...
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: touring with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends
In December 1969, George could be found on tour - with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. The association would prove inspiring in a number of ways, and you can read more about it in a separate blog post.
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: Let It Be
"[I]t was a really nice experience making that album [All Things Must Pass] — because I was really a bit paranoid, musically. Having this whole thing with the Beatles had left me really paranoid. I remember having those people in the studio and thinking, ‘God, these songs are so fruity! I can’t think of which song to do.’ Slowly I realized, ‘We can do this one,’ and I’d play it to them and they'd say, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I’d say, ‘Really? Do you really like it?’ I realized that it was okay... that they were sick of playing all that other stuff." - George Harrison, Crawdaddy, February 1977
"[T]owards the last few years when I was writing a lot of songs, John and Paul continued writing, and Ringo also started writing a few more. It was difficult. You know, an album had on average about twelve titles on it, and it was hard to get songs in. That’s why All Things Must Pass had so many on it, because it was like — it was like being constipated for years and suddenly being able to let loose, you know. And I did basic tracks for All Things Must Pass, 17 of them, just one after another, and I suddenly thought I better check out, see what I’ve got here, and I found I had 17 tracks. Then I had to decide which ones to use and then in the end I thought, ‘Well, we’ll use them all,’ because a lot of them were backlogged, in order to clear the way for when I was writing at that time and for the future." - George Harrison, BBC Radio, 1977
Q: "You had demoed some of the ‘All Things Must Pass’ tracks in ‘69 at the time of the ‘Let It Be’ sessions." George Harrison: "That’s right. I mean, I was probably trying to get them recorded in amongst all the usual John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney] stuff. For me, that was the great thing about splitting up: to be able to go off and make my own record and record all these songs that I’d been stockpiling. And also to be able to record with all these new people, which was like a breath of fresh air, really." - Billboard, 8 January 2001 [see post]
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: Moving into Friar Park
In January 1970, George and Pattie moved from their Esher home Kinfauns to Henley-on-Thames: specifically, Friar Park, a home that would become a sanctuary, a grand gardening outlet, and a significant inspiration. Friar Park was explored in detail January 2020, and you can find out more in a separate blog post.
Stepping stone toward All Things Must Pass: Encouraging Words
"[Billy Preston's] 'Encouraging Words’ was a significant signpost on the road to ‘All Things Must Pass.’ [...] [Harrison] leads the backup vocals on the funky opener, ‘Right Now,’ and brought a then-unreleased Beatles tune (‘I’ve Got A Feeling’) and two of his new songs to the session. One was the piece that would become the title of his own solo album, which he gave an orchestral setting — indeed, the first recording of ‘All Things Must Pass’ speaks of Ray Charles and Las Vegas." - Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison [see post]
The year of All Things Must Pass: 1970
"I was really a bit paranoid, musically. Having this whole thing with the Beatles had left me really paranoid. I remember having those people in the studio [during the All Things Must Pass recording sessions] and thinking, ‘God, these songs [the Harrisongs intended for All Things Must Pass] are so fruity! I can’t think of which song to do.’ Slowly I realized, ‘We can do this one,’ and I’d play it to them and they’d say, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I’d say, ‘Really? Do you really like it?’ I realized that it was okay... that they were sick of playing all that other stuff." - George Harrison, Crawdaddy, February 1977 [see post]
"The disintegration of The Beatles was far from pleasant for George. A few sources have suggested he was relieved (or even ‘delighted‘) by the break-up, since it got the pedantic McCartney out of his hair and enabled George to begin recording the huge stockpile of songs he’d been accumulating since Help!; but Pattie Boyd, George’s first wife, disputes this: ‘He was terribly upset during the break-up period,‘ she says. ‘He was angry and confused. They were all being so hateful towards each other. It was like a bad marriage, at each other’s throats.’" - Uncut, August 2008
"The Beatles, when we actually split up it was just the relief, we should have done it years before because you could see it coming if you look back." - George Harrison, BBC Radio, 1977
"George was never a frontman, or somebody who says, ‘I want to have a career.’ He loved to write music and he loved his house, his garden. He needed the peace, I think, after the Beatles time. What he really felt was frustrated. The two other boys were writing like crazy, and he was passed over. It was a relief when he was able to do his own record. He couldn’t wait to get started." - Klaus Voormann, Uncut, October 2010 [see post]
"I always wanted to do something on my own, but it was easier said than done. Derek [Taylor] had more faith in me than I did. He, Joan and the kids often visited us at Friar Park where we got merry together; I liked to show him how I made my garden grow. He was always telling me I could make it on my own if I wanted to." - George Harrison, as told to Ivor Davies in 1997, quoted in The Beatles And Me On Tour [see post]
"[George was a] wonderfully complicated creature. He had a deeply spiritual side, but was also the enfant terrible. He was seriously avant-garde in his tastes, in his perception, in the way he lived his life. As a person, he’s wildly underrated." - John Hurt, Uncut, August 2008 [see post]
Chanting and meditating
"[George] would walk around with his hand inside his prayer bag and chant silently to himself. At these times he was peaceful and serene, totally absorbed in otherworldly thoughts. I had many amazing discussions with […] George and learned a lot from him, but truthfully, he wasn’t a whole lot of fun for the rest of us who really preferred drinking, talking, laughing, and having fun." - Chris O'Dell, Miss O’Dell
"[George] became increasingly obsessive about meditating and chanting. He would do it for hours, usually in the temple he had made in an octagonal room at the very top of the house [Friar Park] with Persian rugs on the floor. It became his sanctuary. The other was the recording studio, which he had designed on the first floor; he converted the wine cellars into an echo chamber." - Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight
"There is one sort of problem in a way, that I found when chanting all the time, and that was that I start being able to relate less and less to all the people I know. I mean then it’s, there’s only times when I see people like Shyamasundara or just a few people. Then, that’s okay, but most of the other people… I suddenly found myself on such a different level that it’s hard to relate and then it’s like it feels as though it’s a point where I have a decision of either slowing down and pulling back towards those people in order to try and pull them with me, or maybe if, because I’m not ready to go, or just cutting the thing off and just going completely. […] But the problem is this, where to find a balance. Because obviously I know where I benefit by doing that. But I’m benefiting so much that suddenly I find I’m out on a limb, and it’s hard to be able to pull those people with you. You know, there’s a point where suddenly I’m not going to be… I’m not going to know them any more." - George Harrison, in conversation with Srila Prabhupada on 22 August 1973 [see post]
"I'll give it a little push for you"
"[George] came in to see me [in the early 1970s] and asked how things were. I told him it was a little slow and he said ‘I’ll give it a little push for you.’ He then bought almost every tree I had in stock and first thing the next day a motorcycle courier turned up with payment.
Ever since then he was one of my most loyal and regular customers. [...] He had called in to another nursery just along the road from mine. The owner there told him he didn’t serve hippies and to clear off. I had no idea who he was but we got talking and he began to visit regularly.
There was a small hut in the nursery that I had converted into a bar. We used to sit together and enjoy a couple of drinks. I remember one particular occasion when he played his guitar there for me.
[George would walk down the hill from Friar Park to the market where Engbers ran a stall.] He would wait in the queue, take his turn and never expected any preferential treatment. One day he asked me up to his garden for advice on some trees that were dying. After that, he regularly asked for my advice on any gardening matters. [...] He was such a kind man with no airs and graces — a man with a truly big heart." - Konrad Engbers, Henley Standard, December 2001 [see post]
New York City, Spring 1970
"There was a point in my life where I realized anybody can be Lennon/McCartney, you know. ‘Cause being part of Lennon/McCartney, really I could see, you know, I could appreciate them — how good they actually are. And at the same time I could see the infatuation that the public had, or the praise that was put on them. And I could see everybody’s a Lennon/McCartney if that’s what you wanna be. But the point is nobody’s special. There’s not many special people around. And somebody else... If Lennon/McCartney are special, then Harrison and Starkey are special, too. That’s really... What I’m saying is that I can be Lennon/McCartney too, but I’d rather be Harrison, you know." - George Harrison, interview conducted by Smith, NYC, 1 May 1970
"With solemn demeanor Harrison posed with Bennett and Smith. I thought they were too serious. Bennett reached for an American flag. Harrison scribbled on a card, ‘We are not these bodies,’ reflective of his Eastern philosophy. He was warming up. Suddenly he grabbed Bennett’s hand and, with a great big smile, skipped around the room. It was spontaneous and it was wild! It caught me by surprise but I managed to capture five extraordinary images of Harrison cavorting with his promo man." - Tim Boxer, 15 Minutes Magazine
With thanks to meetthebeatlesforreal.com, an excerpt from an article — penned by an unnamed author — from the Harrison Herald, July 1970:
"He rented an electric guitar at Manny's Music Store. He looked at tractors at Mount Vernon. He did an interview [with Howard Smith] for the ABC-FM radio network. […] On May 1st he went to the fan club office to see Sandi, Rusty and anyone else who happened to be there. Sandi said she was at her desk working and when she looked up, George was just standing there in the doorway in his faded denims, barefoot with his shoes in his hands. He came in her office, sat down and just started to talk. […] Sandi asked why he wouldn't smile for pictures and he said, ‘You don't have to smile outwardly to be smiling inwardly. I'm always smiling.’" [see post]
"Reports of the twelve-hour May 1 session soon made the music press. By the time they’d finished, the talk was of a ‘sensational‘ collaborative album [between Harrison and Dylan] in the pipeline. The date did bear worthy fruit; two of the finished New Morning tracks, Went to See the Gypsy and Day of the Locusts, were obviously cut on this day — Harrison’s guitar can be clearly heard. Went to See the Gypsy fades out to a short, country-rock solo that is unmistakably George, although uncredited." - While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison
"Bob [Dylan] is a very sensitive guy, with big ears. He has this strange image, but he’s a good man, a man of great integrity. I’m sure he had a lot of respect for the things George [Harrison] did beautifully — for one thing, he asked him to play on his records! He didn’t tie himself to George because he was famous. He and George met at a certain level of sincerity. My impression of George when I first met him [at Columbia Studios on 1 May 1970] was that he wasn’t really extremely confident, didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and felt like maybe people were mistaking him, or making a mistake, or seeing something that wasn’t there. That was the feeling I got from him. Everyone was into hot licks, but he didn’t have any. So I feel he didn’t have a glimpse of how really wonderful a musician he was… He was very conscious that he couldn’t read music and that he couldn’t play searing solos off the top of his head. What he could do was worth more to me. He was a beautiful musician, extremely musical." - David Bromberg, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison [see post]
"George decided one night that he’d like to take a ride on a New York City subway. He was dressed in his denims and wore a longish beard. Still, he looked like nobody else. We descended the Sheridan Square subway steps, bought our tokens and waited patiently on the platform. We got on the next uptown train with only a few other passengers in the car. Immediately, George drew stares on our trip as the train headed uptown. Otherwise the trip was largely uneventful until we exited the train one stop to the North at 14th Street. At that very moment, a gang of cops with drawn guns was chasing someone up the platform. I think that was George’s first and last ride on a New York City subway. [...] You can see from the way George looks up at the emerald towers that he can feast on New York as well as anyone who comes here just to sit in the audience of the Johnny Carson Show. As a Beatle, the best he could do was to visit the city under house arrest. George dances down the sidewalk like a kid on a field trip but he also knows you can't get to heaven on an express elevator. A member of the parade? They look at him, most of them, not even knowing who he is but because his glow tells them he is somebody special. The spires of the city point to vanity, but George finds God in the streets.
‘Everybody's doing all the time,’ he says, ‘and it's very difficult to stop doing, but that's my ambition.’ [...] We head uptown for a look at Central Park. In all these years, George has yet to set foot in the park. ‘They say the best time to visit it is after 11 p.m.,’ George says. And he laughs. When we get there, we walk into the zoo, but have to turn back. ‘You can’t make it?’ I say.
‘No,’ says George. ‘The squirrels look as if they are dying, the grass seems to be gasping for breath, the foliage is cancered. Now I know what Bob Dylan meant by “haunted, frightened trees.”’ [...] We look for a parking space and I race another driver to get one, nearly knocking over someone on a motorbike. George is appalled. ‘That’s New York for you,’ I explain." - Al Aronowitz, The Blacklisted Journalist, 2001 [see post]
In memoriam: Louise Harrison
On 7 July 1970, George's mother, Louise, passed away.
"When I was making All Things Must Pass in 1970, not only did I have Phil Spector going in the hospital and all this trouble, besides organizing the Trident Studios schedule in London with Derek & the Dominos [...] but also my mother got really ill. I was going all the way up and down England to Liverpool trying to see her in the hospital. Bad time.
She’d got a tumor on the brain, but the doctor was an idiot and he was saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her, she’s having some psychological trouble.’ When I went to see her, she didn’t even know who I was. [voice stiffing with anger] I had to punch the doctor out, ‘cause in England the family doctor has to be the one to get the specialist. So he got the guy to look at her and she ended up in the neurological hospital. The specialist said, ‘She could end up being a vegetable, but if it was my wife or my mother I’d do the operation’ — which was a horrendous thing where they had to drill a hole in her skull.
She recovered a little bit for about seven months. And during that period, my father, who’d taken care of her, had suddenly exploded with ulcers and was in the same hospital. So I was pretending to both of them that the other one was okay. Then, running back and forth to do this record, I wrote [‘Deep Blue’]. I made it up at home one exhausted morning with those major and minor chords. It’s filled with frustration and gloom of going to these hospitals and the feeling of disease — as the word’s meaning truly is — that permeated the atmosphere. Not being able to do anything for suffering family or loved ones is an awful experience." - George Harrison, Musician, November 1987 [see post]
Behind the scenes: the album cover
"Someone called him and told [George] that the gnomes that were stolen from Friar Park in about 1871 could be bought back. They asked if he wanted to buy them back. He said, ‘Sure.’ They brought them back and laid them on the lawn. We went out and looked at them. I said, ‘There’s the cover.‘ We didn’t have to move a thing. In about two minutes, we had the cover. It was spontaneous." - Barry Feinstein, Washington Times, 4 February 2002
Q: "Out of curiosity, why the garden gnomes on All Things Must Pass?"
George Harrison: "Originally, when we took the photo I had these old Bavarian gnomes which I thought I would put there like kinda... John, Paul, George and Ringo[.] gnomes are very popular in Europe and these gnomes were made in about 1860[.]" - Yahoo web chat, 15 February 2001 [see post]
Behind the scenes: the 30th anniversary remaster's updated cover
Q: "Don't you miss the old packaging with albums vs CD's? All Things Must Pass was great because even the box was huge! "
George Harrison: "Twelve inch square artwork gets you more scope and greater impact.Those days the album cover used to be part of the overall package. It seems to become less important because it is smaller and not so many people are interested in the artwork." (MSN web chat, 15 February 2001)
"We decided to tint it like you would an old-fashioned photograph. Somewhere down the line I was talking to the art director and he said, ‘Maybe we should try having a flyover through the back,’ and then the whole thing evolved into gas stations and high rise apartments, just as a little dig at the way our planet is going at the moment, or has gone over the last thirty years. Just turning into a big concrete block. So it’s a bit of a cynical joke on reality." - George Harrison, interview, 15 February 2001 [see post]
Behind the scenes: the poster
Originally, the poster was intended to be a watercolor painting by Tom Wilkes:
The proposed poster "combin[ed] Barry Feinstein color photographs with Krishna-theme drawings by Wilkes. The upper portion depicts the tower to George’s Friar Park home floating in the sky over dark gray clouds. […] [In another part of the drawing] the mischievous Krishna has taken the maidens’ clothing from the shore while they were swimming in the pond and has placed the clothes in the tree branches out of their reach. The women are calling for him to return their clothes. All of the women have dark hair, except for one who is blond. She represents George’s blond-haired [then] wife Pattie. […] When George saw the poster he was a bit taken aback. He had concerns about the image of him in the sky and the blond maiden. Wilkes suggested that his poster not be included with the album. Only five printer’s proofs of the colorful poster were made." - The Beatles Solo on Apple Records
"Of the new records from Apple, I’ve done ‘Let It Be’ with Paul; ‘Instant Karma’ with John; ‘Ain’t That Cute’ with Doris Troy; the record with Jackie Lomax; an album with Billy Preston; the records with Radha Krishna Temple; and now possibly a single with Ringo. [See #harrisonarchivecowriting, #harrisonarchiveproductions and #harrisonguestappearances] And maybe I’ll get round to doing something for myself! I’m almost a full-time Apple producer, but I’m going to stop. I don’t want to die as ‘George Harrison records producer,’ or ‘George Harrison lead guitarist’ or even just a Beatle. They’re all me, but they’re not really me. I’m unlimited. We’re all unlimited!" - George Harrison, NME, 14 March 1970
"I had seventeen tracks, and I didn’t really want to chuck any away at the time — although I’m sure lots of them in retrospect could have been chucked away. I wanted to get shut of them so I could catch up to myself." - George Harrison, Rolling Stone, 22 October 1987 [see post]
Behind the scenes: musicians, friends, and colleagues
"George was never a frontman, or somebody who says, ‘I want to have a career.’ He loved to write music and he loved his house, his garden. He needed the peace, I think, after the Beatles time. What he really felt was frustrated. The two other boys [John Lennon and Paul McCartney] were writing like crazy, and he was passed over. It was a relief when he was able to do his own record. He couldn’t wait to get started." - Klaus Voormann, Uncut, October 2010
"Sometimes it could get quite difficult to get a song on an album. When you think that in ‘Let It Be,’ they rehearsed ‘All Things Must Pass’ and a couple of other of George’s songs that didn’t make it on to ‘Let It Be,’ right, and didn’t make it on to ‘Abbey Road,’ right, but made it on to his first solo album. He was stockpiling stuff, you know, stuff was building up." - Neil Aspinall, Living In The Material World [see post]
"George did so much himself. Virtually all of the backing vocals were George, like what you hear on My Sweet Lord. We’d do four or six tracks of him singing a line and I’d bounce all of those down to one track. Then he’d do a harmony several times and I’d bounce those to another track. Then we’d bounce those two together at the same time as we were doing yet another backing vocal. It was painstaking, but it sounded amazing in the end." - Ken Scott, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust
Ken Scott: "[George] had started it [All Things Must Pass] at Abbey Road with an engineer called Phil McDonald. They’d recorded all the basic tracks on 8-track. It became obvious that they needed a lot more to go on it, and so by this time Trident was 16-track, and so George came basically because of that. And we transferred all of the 8-tracks over to the 16, and then continued recording from there, and then mixed."
Q: "What was it like working with Phil Spector?"
KS: "I didn’t. [laughs] That was that, and he was there for the basic tracks, then he went back to LA whilst we did the overdubs. So it was just George and I basically. And then when it came time to mix, Phil had come back to England by then, but he would come in… George and I would start a mix about two o’clock in the afternoon. Around seven, say, when we’d got it fairly close to what we thought it should be, Phil would come in, we’d play it for him, he’d make some comments. Some we’d go along with, some we wouldn’t. He’d eventually go, we’d finish the mix. George would go, I’d set up for the next day. We’d come in, two o’clock, start the next mix. And it was like that every day. So working with, with Phil on All Things Must Pass — very little." - BBC Radio 2, 28 September 2019 [see post]
"When I played on ‘Beware of Darkness,’ that was the first time I ever played piano in my life. I was, and am, an organ player. Those are two different animals all together. George asked me to play piano with a gospel feel. I wanted to do a great job, playing piano for the first time and being recorded with George Harrison on his record, no less. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re put to the task.
Being part of that band and recording that album was an honor. I was privileged to be a part of it. On the third record in the set, ‘Apple Jam,’ we all split equally the writer’s credits and royalty shares for each of the five jams we played on. George just gave it to us without saying a word. He was a very generous man. I still receive payment every three months for my work on his songs.
When I heard about George passing, I broke down and cried my heart out, and I imagine everyone who ever knew him or was touched by him thru his music did the same thing. The truth is, he didn’t go anywhere. With his transition, he is now everywhere! We are all closer to him than we could ever hope to be, because he now lives in our hearts. George’s spirit is a part of us all now." - Bobby Whitlock, The Main Edge, 2011 [see post]
"George was always in the middle facing everyone, and there was an electric piano in between the two drummers facing George and the studio entrance doors. […] The sessions felt very comfortable, and George made sure that everybody was happy." - Bobby Whitlock, Bobby Whitlock: A Rock 'n' Roll Autobiography
"George gave me my first sitar. We were friends. I used to go to the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ sessions. George asked me to come play on ‘All Things Must Pass.’” - lohud.com, 6 January 2015
"It was incredible. We [Badfinger] went in every day with our guitars, and literally were learning a song day... sometimes two! And all of the big stars would come in, lay a track and leave." - Joey Molland, badfingersite dot com
"The control room at Abbey Road became transformed into George’s sanctuary, with incense burning alongside the photos of Indian saints that he placed on the mixing console. In all the recording I had done up until that time, I’d never experienced anything like this: the vibe he created was profoundly peaceful. [...] He also had a great sense of humor. Many times as we were listening to a playback in the control room, he would jump out of his chair and start dancing around like a wild man. At other times, he would make up some moves and play ‘air saxophone,’ as though he was a sax player in Little Richard’s band. But most of all he loved Monty Python and would regularly repeat their hilarious sketches verbatim. It was all part of his personality to laugh and joke around and then pick up a guitar from his incredible collection and launch into a beautiful song that would make you cry." - Gary Wright, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, And My Friendship With George Harrison [see post]
"[George] called me up. He would always ring up himself, he never had other people call. He said, ‘Phil [Spector] wants more acoustics.’ More?! There was already him, me, all of Badfinger and God knows who else on acoustics! But you understand, Phil has to have 94 of everything — twice. But we admired his production, we were all in awe of the legendary sound he got." - Peter Frampton, Uncut, December 2013
"I got to work with George Harrison and the whole ‘Abbey Road mafia.’ There was some work I did on All Things Must Pass, but before that I played on an album he produced for a singer named Doris Troy [see #harrisonarchiveproductions]. She had sung on some Humble Pie stuff, and she was phenomenal. My friend Terry Doran introduced me to George at Trident Studios. I was nervous as hell, but George was so kind and gracious. He asked me if I would like to play on the session. So I said, ‘Well, OK…’ He handed me his red Les Paul and I start playing rhythm, and halfway through the song he stopped and said, ‘No, no, I want you to play lead.’ That was a heady moment.
I ended up playing lead on her first single, and then George asked me back to play on the rest of the album. Because of that, I met Ringo and Jim Gordon, Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voormann and Billy Preston. There was Gary Wright, but I knew him already. All of these people were there, and I’m just like, ‘I’ve got to pinch myself.’ That was a very special time." - Peter Frampton, Guitar World, 22 July 2019 [see post]
"[Joel] Dorn remembered arriving at Pariser’s home [around 1970] and hearing a noise that ‘sounded like a thousand engines going at one time.’ He moved toward someone standing by Pariser’s stereo speakers and discovered it was George. ‘I asked him what that noise was,’ Dorn said, ‘and he explained that he had gone to the factory to approve a pressing and was fascinated by the sound of all these machines going at once, so he recorded it. It was the kind of goofy, surreal stuff that I was into, and we had a conversation about what can be done with certain kinds of sounds. There was no formal introduction, just a casual discussion about what grabbed us musically.
‘One of the things about people who are famous,’ Dorn said, ‘especially from the sixties and seventies, is that they tended to be, in my view, unbearable to be around. George didn’t have that extreme star thing. He didn’t have any of those silly trappings that a lot of people put on where they become, you know, so publicly spiritual that you want to push them down a flight of stairs. He wasn’t wrapped up in himself. We had this conversation about how you have to follow your heart, follow your instincts, and at the same time serve people through the projects you’re involved with. In that sense, he was unique in the circles I ran with in those years. I didn’t catch any false humility. He seemed to be into the core, the essence of it rather than proselytizing or preaching.’" - Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison [see post]
"[George] walked over to greet me. He was dressed in traditional Indian white pajamas and brown sandals. His long, straight, dark brown hair was parted in the middle and reached halfway down his back; he had a fairly long beard and mustache that covered a good part of his face. I could sleep the patchouli oil he was wearing as well as the incense that was burning in the studio.
His brown eyes were penetrating yet peaceful, and he immediately disarmed my nervousness with his gentleness. Meeting someone of his stature was challenging for me at first. I had really never met anyone quite like George before; he didn’t seem to be on some huge ego trip like other artists I had met over the years. His aura was calm, and his being exuded a subtle spiritual magnetism. Yet, at the same time, he was someone who was very focused in the here and now. As he shook my hand and graciously introduced himself to me, all the initial apprehensiveness I had been feeling suddenly vanished. I felt in my heart that I was meeting an old friend I hadn’t seen in years — or maybe lifetimes. [...] Despite being intimidated at first, I was quickly disarmed by his simplicity and kindness." Gary Wright (on first meeting George), Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, And My Friendship With George Harrison [see post]
"I don’t agree that George had copied the Chiffons’ ‘He’s So Fine’ for ‘My Sweet Lord.’ That song changed so much in the studio and to me, it was and always will be legitimate. George was the sweetest guy in the world. A really, really great guy and he wouldn’t harm anyone or anything. The vibe and the atmosphere when we recorded ‘My Sweet Lord’ were incredible. We played music all day every day for three weeks and it was a great group of people." - Alan White, British Beatles Fan Club, 2011
"[George] was so sweet and open-hearted." - Alan White, Music Radar, 11 September 2009
Q: “Did you see George after ALL THINGS MUST PASS and you were in Yes?”
Alan White: "Yeah… In L.A., we were at a party with him, him and Tom Petty but they were extremely drunk, both of them (laughs). We said hello, and he was very nice, his wife [Olivia] was really nice…" - Alan White, Notes From The Edge no. 247 [see post]
"George’s way of dealing with musicians in the studio was, as mentioned, very different from John’s. While John liked developing plans alone or together with Yoko, George always formed a real team with the band. We often worked out pieces together, and our opinion about it was important to George. Even when it came to his guitar solos, he was open to positive suggestions. As opposed to his friend Eric Clapton he was not a great improvisor. He worked everything out note for note and then developed a real little solo melody which he, no matter how often he played it, only changed minimally. While John put his ideas to tape very quickly, ‘patience’ wasn’t just a word with George." - Klaus Voormann, translated from Voormann’s book, Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weißen Klavier, John?
"George was a perfectionist and always meticulous with his music. Even while writing a song, he would spend days tinkering. That was how it was in the studio too. Before we started recording, George would create a calm, warm atmosphere. He lit candles and incense, set up a little altar. The sessions often lasted until the morning hours. Even if my bass had already been recorded, I never went home. I enjoyed every minute and couldn’t hear the songs often enough." - Klaus Voormann, translated from onetz, 28 November 2011 [see post]
"Abbey Road studio technician, Eddie Klein [...], was signed up by producer, Phil Spector, as a joke, to make a tap dancing record with this star-studded line-up [...] George Harrison, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Phil Spector, Ringo Starr and Gary Wright." - Abbey Road: The story of the world’s most famous recording studios [see post]
"It was funny because I forgot all about that when I was actually hanging out with [George] in the studio. I completely forgot about the fact that I was — I was a groupie, or, you know, a teenybopper that used to draw pictures of George, you know? But he invited... Bob [Matthews] ran into him into the bathroom there, and he invited us up when he got done mixing. Bob and me, with him and his engineer, and he just sat here, and he played this whole album [All Things Must Pass] for us. […] He was a really nice guy, George. I liked him, you know? […] [George said that] ‘the record company won’t let me put out three records — a three disc set.’
I said, ‘Well, why?’ ‘They said it’ll cost too much. The price will be too high. People won’t buy it.’ I looked at him, and I said, ‘Well, Jesus, you’ve got enough money. Why don’t you put out three and charge for two then? What the hell. You can afford it.’ [whispering] It came out with three! I was like ‘Ah!’ [laughs] I was so proud of myself. I was like, ‘Yeah! I talked him into it! That was some good talking!’ [laughs] […] Jerry [Garcia] got such a kick out of it. He said George showed up at one of the [Grateful Dead] gigs in New York and came in and introduced himself as knowing me and Bob. He said, ‘I met your engineers,’ [laughs] Jer says, ‘He says...’ I said, ‘It’s all who you know, Jer! My God,’ y’know? [laughs] He loved that. He was like, ‘He introduced himself as knowing you! Ha-ha-ha!’" - Betty Cantor-Jackson (recording engineer), cloudsurfing.gdhour.com, 17 March 2010 [see post]
"In 1970, a 19-year-old Phil Collins played percussion on an All Things Must Pass session at Abbey Road. ‘It was like going to the Vatican,’ he recalls. [...] Collins was pointed to a set of congas. The session began. ‘In my enthusiasm, every time Phil Spector said, “Let’s hear the drums,” I played along, not realizing my mic wasn’t open. After a while my hands were completely fucked. Then he said, “OK, let’s hear the congas.” Huh? Anyway, we did the song — it was “Art of Dying.” Then everyone stopped to watch a football match on TV, and someone said the session was over, so I left.’ When All Things Must Pass came out in November, Collins eagerly scanned the credits. He was not there. Nor were his congas audible on ‘Art of Dying.’
Thirty years passed. At a Grand Prix in Germany, Collins met a friend of Harrison’s who revealed that All Things Must Pass was being remastered. Collins wondered if his congas might appear on the new version. Days later, he received a package with a DAT and a note: ‘Could this be you?’. He played the DAT. It was ‘Art of Dying’ — with the congas mixed loud. ‘They were awful. At the end you could hear George saying to Phil [Spector], “Let’s try one without the conga player.” The bottom fell out of my world.’ The mystery had been solved: they’d sacked him.
Weeks afterwards, Collins got a call from his friend, Formula 1 legend Jackie Stewart. ‘Someone wants to talk to you,’ he said. ‘Hi, Phil, did the postman come?’ a Scouse voice chuckled. Collins told Harrison angrily there’d been no need to humiliate him like that. ‘Oh, that wasn’t you,’ George laughed. ‘I mocked that up with [percussionist] Ray Cooper in my studio. I told him to play a load of crap.’ Collins tells us: ‘By now I can’t speak. I’m on an emotional rollercoaster.’ George went on: ‘Don’t worry, Phil, your congas were fine.’ On the 2001 remaster, Collins finally got his credit." - Uncut, October 2010 [see post]
Phil Spector's "Notes for George Harrison"
In August 1970, Phil Spector sent George a letter detailing his thoughts on each of the album's tracks. A transcript of that letter follows.
"August 19, 1970
NOTES FOR GEORGE HARRISON
From: Phil Spector
Re: George Harrison LP
I have listed each tune and some opinions on each for you to use, as I will not be in London for some time. In general, I feel the remixing of the album requires a great deal of work or at least a few hours on each number. I feel it would be best if we saved all remixing until I return as a great deal of the mixes should be done with a fresh approach. Though the following looks like a book, it is just because there are so many songs and opinions.
1. AWAITING ON YOU ALL:
The mixes I heard had the voice too buried, in my opinion. I'm sure we could do better. The performance probably will be okay, unless you really think you can do it better. However, as I said above, I think a lot of it is in the final mix when we do it.
2. 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.
3. I'LL HAVE YOU ANYTIME:
Same comments as 'IF NOT FOR YOU'
4. ALL THINGS MUST PASS:
I'm not sure if the performance is good or not. Even on that first mix you did which had the 'original' voice, I'm sure is not the best you can do. But, perhaps you should concentrate on getting a good performance. I still prefer the horns out on the intro but that is a remix decision which should be done at that time. Also the voices in the bridge (Eric and Bobby) sound flat, and should be very low in the final mix. This particular song is so good that any honest performance by you will be acceptable as far as I'm concerned but if you wish to concentrate on doing another then you should do that.
5. BEWARE OF DARKNESS:
The eight track I heard after it was bumped had the electric guitar you played bumped on with the rhythm guitars. I personally feel you can make a better bump with a bit more rhythm guitars. The electric guitar seems to drown them out. Perhaps you should do another bump with more rhythm guitars, or seriously consider taking this one to Trident Studios using the original eight track and avoiding bumping, as each track we used is important and vital to a good final mix.
6. ISN'T IT A PITY (NO. 1):
Still needs full string and horns. Naturally, performance is still needed by you. I think you should just concentrate on singing it and getting that out of the way.
7. ISN'T IT A PITY (NO. 2):
Still needs full or some type of orchestration. Performance seemed okay, but needs to be listened to at the end.
9. LET IT DOWN:
This side needs an excellent and very subtle remix which I am positive can be gotten and it will become one of the great highlights of the album. Believe me. In listening I find it needs an answer vocal from you on 'Let It Down' parts. I'm not sure about this next point, but maybe a better performance with better pronunciation of words should be tried at Trident without erasing the original which did have much warmth to it. Perhaps you could try this at Trident. The vocal group (Eric and Bobby) on the 'Let it Down' parts sounded okay. The 'Moonlight Bay' horn parts should be out the first time and very, very low the second time they play that riff, I think. Perhaps at the end, near the fade, a wailing sax (old rock and roll style) played by Bobby Keys would possibly add some highlight to the ending and make it totally different from the rest of the song. It's hard to explain, but some kind of a screeming saxophone mixed in with all that madness at the end might be an idea. Anyhow it's something to think about. Even though everything is not exactly as we had hoped (horns, etc.) I think it will be great when it is finished. Everything on those eight tracks now is important and vital to the final product. I know the right mix and sounds even on the horns can be obtained in remix. The only other thing the horns could have done is what they play originally on the 'Let it Down' parts, only more forcefully. However, I still think it's all there and there's nothing to worry about on that number.
10. MY SWEET LORD:
This still needs backing vocals and also an opening lead vocal where you didn't come in on the original session. The rest of the vocal should be checked out but a lot of the original lead vocal is good. Also an acoustic guitar, perhaps playing some frills should be overdubbed or a solo put in. Don't rush to erase the original vocal on this one as it might be quite good, since background voices will have to be done at Trident Studios, any lead vocals perhaps should be done there as well.
11. WAH WAH:
This still needs some bridge, and perhaps a Bobby Keyes solo. Also needs lead vocal and background voices.
13. WHAT IS LIFE:
The band track is fine. This needs a good performance by you and proper background voice. It should be done at Trident Studios if further tracks are necessary.
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.
16. APPLE SCRUFFS:
This mix seems to be okay as is.
18. BEHIND THAT LOCKED DOOR:
Maybe the vocal performance can be better. I'm not sure. Also, the mix may be able to be better as well. The voice seems a little down.
George, on all the 18 numbers I just mentioned, this is what I feel are the most important items on each. Naturally, wherever possible, of main importance is to get a good vocal performance by yourself. Also, if you do any of the background voices, you should spend considerable time on them to make sure they are good. In practically every case, I would recommend that you use Trident Studios for overdubbing voices, lead or otherwise, so as not to bump tracks or go eight-to eight, and also to be able to do as much an possible before reducing everything back to the original eight track. This would probably be an easier way to do it and would also insure the best type of protection for our original eight tracks when it comes to remixing, as most of those tracks are presently very good and I'd rather avoid going eight-to-eight and further bumping. Also, in many cases one erases a performance before comparing it to the new performance, which would not have to happen on a sixteen track.
I'm sure the album will be able to be remixed excellently. I also feel that therein lies much of the album because many of the tracks are really quite good and will reproduce on record very well. Therefore, I think you should spend whatever time you are going to on performances so that they are the very best you can do and that will make the remixing of the album that much easier. I really feel that your voice has got to be heard throughout the album so that the greatness of the songs can really come through. We can't cover you up too much (and there really is no need to) although as I said, I'm sure excellent mixes can be obtained with just the proper amount of time spent on each one. When the recording of the album is finished, I think we can get into it better on a remix level if we just devote time to it and thereby we will make a much better album since we will be concentrating on one thing at a time.
George, thank you for all your understanding about what we discussed, I appreciate your concern very much and hope to see you as soon as it is possible.
Much love. Regards to everyone. Hare Krishna,
"There was also one Thanksgiving  when my dying wife insisted on inviting George and Pattie to share a turkey dinner with us. We were living in the house in Englewood that George’s $50,000 loan had enabled us to rent. My dying wife, who at that time had to wear a neck brace, was then living on a diet of pain-killers that would get her so stoned she would sometimes fall asleep at dinner with her face down in her plate. Although both George and Pattie were vegetarians, they graciously ate the turkey my wife had so arduously prepared." - Al Aronowitz, The Blacklisted Journalist [see post]
All Things Must Pass: the songs
Please note: research did not turn up quotes for all the songs featured on the album, so some go undocumented here - my apologies.
"[George] had literally hundreds of songs, and each one was better than the rest. He had all this emotion built up when it was released to me. I don’t think he had played them to anybody, maybe Pattie. He let me make all the basic tracks. He said, Go, go, go! He would play and then he would come back in and listen. In the overdubbing, he was in control of his parts. He wouldn’t let anything go until it was right. ‘My Sweet Lord’ must have taken about twelve hours to overdub the guitar solos. He must have had that in triplicate, six-part harmony, before we decided on two-part harmony. Perfectionist is not the word. Anyone can be a perfectionist. He was beyond that. He just had to have it so right. He would try and try and experiment upon experiment, to the point where I would leave the studio for several hours while he played different parts over and over with the engineer. Then I would come in and listen, and he would say, ‘How does it sound? Are there too many parts? Too few parts?’ He’d do the same thing with the background vocals. He was a great harmonizer with himself — he could do all the parts by himself. [...] George was one of the most commercial musicians and songwriters and quintessential players I’ve ever known in my entire career." - Phil Spector, Living In The Material World
"[I] recently came across a cassette where he said, ‘Maybe I’m gonna make my own album one day.’ And he’s actually singing to his sister-in-law, saying, ‘Oh I wrote this song and that song.’ So we have some beautiful versions of George playing just on his own from ‘All Things Must Pass.’ So hopefully we’ll include those [in a potential 50th anniversary reissue]." - Olivia Harrison, Dark Horse Radio, November 2018 [see post]
(More about a possible 50th anniversary release here.)
"I'd Have You Anytime"
"I was with Bob and he’d gone through his broken neck period and was being very quiet, and he didn’t have much confidence anyhow — 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. […] 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. Chords, because he tended just to play a lot of basic chords and move a capo up and down. And I was saying, ‘Come on, write me some words,’ and he was scribbling words down. And it just killed me because he’d 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." - George Harrison, Crawdaddy, February 1977)
"I happened to be invited to Woodstock by The Band. I spent some days with Bob and I s’pose we just got round to picking up guitars and we were just, you know, he was saying, Hey what about those, show me some of them chords, those weird chords. And that’s how that came about. It’s like a strange chord, really, it’s called G major 7th, and it’s got all these major 7th chords [chuckles], so, you know, we just kind of turned it into a song [I’d Have You Anytime]. It’s really nice." - George Harrison, interview, 15 February 2001
Q: "Was it a big decision to start the album with the song you wrote with Dylan, ‘I'd Have You Anytime’?"
George Harrison: "It probably was, because it goes, ‘Let me in here...’ [laughs]. It just seemed like a good thing to do; it was a nice track, I liked that. And maybe subconsciously I needed a bit of support. I had Eric [Clapton] playing the solo, and Bob had helped write it, so it could have been something to do with that." - Billboard, 8 January 2001 [see post]
"You know, they say in this life, you have to perfect one human relationship in order to really love God. You practice loving God by loving another human, and by giving unconditional love. George’s most important relationships were really conducted through their music and their lyrics. I mean, George... ‘I’d Have You Anytime,’ the song that George and Bob wrote together. ‘Let me in here, I know I’ve been here, let me into your heart.’ He was talking directly to Bob because he’d seen Bob, and then he’d seen Bob another time and he didn’t seem as open. And so, that was his way of saying, ‘Let me in here. Let me into your heart.’ And he was very unabashed, and romantic about it, in a sense. You know, I found that he was very... he had these love relationships with his friends. He loved them." - Olivia Harrison, Living In The Material World [see post]
"My Sweet Lord"
"He had a deep soul, George. Everybody that got to know George really well knows what I’m talking about. George was a soul man, he truly was. You know, think of the fact that he was 27 when he came out with ‘My Sweet Lord,’ which was: ‘I really want to see you.’ That was a very young man talking there. Yeah, he was always very spiritual, George. He’s always been very spiritual. That’s been the center of what and who he is." - Jim Keltner, BBC Radio, 2009 [see post]
"I remember [George writing ‘My Sweet Lord’] very, very clearly. It’s a beautiful song and he was so proud of it. It was absolutely stunning. I know he wrote it. He didn’t copy it from The Chiffons. It was deeply upsetting and really hurtful when he was called into court in America for supposedly plagiarizing one of The Chiffons’ songs. That song became a bit tainted web, we were told he’d have to go to court and defend himself with his guitar. George stopped listening to the radio after that so he wouldn't be influenced by any music. There was no possibility of anything else influencing him when he wrote songs." - Pattie Boyd, The Mammoth Book of the Beatles
"When he was writing ‘My Sweet Lord’, with all those [Sanskrit] names at the end, I said, ‘What the hell are all those guys?’ He said, ‘They’re all Gods.’ And I thought, ‘Way too many Gods, George!’ He was zeroing in on the inner kingdom. He seemed to be pretty much focused on an inner world, a spiritual journey. He gave me The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and a Hare Krishna book. He had a load of Krishnas living at his house. He was an easy touch. They were just a bunch of moochers as far as I was concerned." - Bobby Whitlock, Uncut, December 2013 [see post]
"Every time I put the radio on it’s ‘Oh my Lord’ – I’m beginning to think there must be a God! I knew there wasn’t when ‘Hare Krishna’ [‘Hare Krishna Mantra’ by Radha Krishna Temple] never made it on the polls with their own record, that really got me suspicious. We used to say to them, ‘You might get number one’ and they’d say, ‘Higher than that." - John Lennon, Lennon Remembers
"At that particular time in my life , I was in one room singing ‘My Sweet Lord,’ and John was in another room in Abbey Road singing, ‘I don’t believe in Jesus, I don’t believe in nothing.’ He went through that situation with Primal Scream, which was really not the best thing I recommend for anybody, but maybe he needed to do it. But it was the point in time where we were at extreme situation to each other, and that [Lennon] song [‘Mother’] reminds me of that." - George Harrison, Rockline, 10 February 1988 [see post]
"I was inspired to write ‘My Sweet Lord’ by the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ version of ‘Oh Happy Day.’ I thought a lot about whether to do ‘My Sweet Lord’ or not, because I would be committing myself publicly and I anticipated that a lot of people might get weird about it. Many people fear the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ — makes them angry for some strange reason. The point was, I was sticking my neck out on the chopping block because now I would have to live up to something, but at the same time I thought, ‘Nobody’s saying it; I wish something else was doing it.’ You know, everybody is going ‘Be-bop baby’ — OK it may be good to dance to, but I was naive and thought we should express our feelings to each other — not suppress them and keep holding them back. Well, it was what I felt, and why should I be untrue to myself? I came to believe in the importance that if you feel something strong enough then you should say it." - George Harrison, I Me Mine [see post]
George Harrison: "We recorded ‘My Sweet Lord’ first — the first version of that was with Billy Preston, with the Edwin Hawkins singers, and I mean, that was good because the idea came to me anyway based upon ‘Oh Happy Day.’ ‘Oh Happy Day,’ I was on the road with Delaney and Bonnie and Eric [Clapton] at the time in Sweden [see #delaneyandbonnie50] and I was just thinking of a way of how to combine Hallelujah and Hare Krishna which is just simplistically the West and the East, and how to get everybody singing Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah and then you shove Hare Krishna in and catch them before they realized.”
GH: "And that was really the idea and based upon ‘Oh Happy Day,’ the Edwin Hawkins Singers. And as it happened they came into town and phoned up and said, ‘Do you want us to do any dates?’ So we got them down to Olympic Studio and the original version of ‘My Sweet Lord’ is with The Temptations’ rhythm section [Cornelius Grant, Bill White, Melvin Brown, and Stacey Edwards], [The Temptations] were also playing at Talk Of The Town. The Temptations, who had their drummer, bass player and guitar player, Billy on piano and organ, and the Edwin Hawkins Singers. And if you listen to that one, there’s a point where I was trying to get the Edwin Hawkins Singers to sing Hare Krishna, so they’re a funny group of people and they’re saying, ‘What? What is that, Hare Krishna?’ And then there was, luckily, there was one young guy and he said, ‘You know, Hare Krishna, you’ve seen them there, dancing on the streets.’ And so if you listen to that version, there’s one place where they’re going: Hall-ellu-jah, Ha-re Krish-na. So I was happy, I got it in twice actually." - BBC Radio interview, February 1977 [see post]
Q: "Where were you spiritually then when you wrote the lyrics for 'My Sweet Lord,' and where are you now spritually, have you grown? "
George Harrison: "Somebody said a very famous Indian saint said 'if there is a God, we must see him. And if there is a soul we must perceive it.' In the West they still argue if God really exists. Basically, I am in the same place. The song really came from Swami Vivekananda. " (MSN web chat, 15 February 2001)
The "My Sweet Lord" court case, in brief
On 7 September 1976, a verdict was reached in th "My Sweet Lord" lawsuit: George was found guilty of "subconscious plagiarism."
"The judge [Richard Owen] also was funny, talking to my attorney just last week, he said, ‘Well, actually, I like the both, both of the songs.’ My attorney said, ‘What are you talking about, you said it was the same song.’ And the judge said, 'Oh, um… what I really meant… I like the same song with the two sets of lyrics.’" - George Harrison, BBC, 30 November 1976
"I was getting almost depressed, but I decided I’d take it positively. I wrote a song ['This Song,' on the 1976 album Thirty-Three & 1/3] about it." - George Harrison, Observer-Reporter, 8 December 1976
"I mean this thing went on for 16 years or something, 18 years, and finally it’s all over with and the result of it is I own 'My Sweet Lord’ and I now own 'He’s So Fine’ and Allen Klein owes me like three or four hundred thousand dollars cause he took all the money on both songs, it’s really a joke, it’s a total joke." - George Harrison, Undercover, 1992
"As far as I’m concerned, the effect the song has had far exceeds any bitching between copyright people and their greed and jealousy." - George Harrison, quoted by Performing Songwriter, 10 February 2015 [see post]
Q: “Your song ‘Wah-Wah’ on All Things Must Pass was aimed at Paul during Let It Be.”
George Harrison: “[nods] I’d left the band at that period. Everybody’s seen that film [Let It Be] now, and what was supposed to be us rehearsing new material. They were going to film us recording it live, but the rehearsal became the movie. After we got over all the rows we had, us recording it live just ended up in Apple Studio and on the roof.
I just got so fed up with the bad vibes — and that arguments with Paul were being put on film. I didn’t care if it was the Beatles, I was getting out. Getting home in that pissed-off mood, I wrote that song. Wah-Wah was saying, You’ve given me a bloody headache.’” (Musician, November 1987) •
GH: “We worked over and over on the songs in the studio so that everybody got the right routine, and it was sounding really nice, and then in the control room, Phil was in there with the engineer, making it sound like… this noise. The first track we…”
Q: “The Phil Spector wall.”
GH: “Yeah. Well, the first track we ever did, it was this song called ‘Wah-Wah,’ and it sounded really nice in the studio, all this nice acoustics and piano and no echo on anything. We did it for *hours* until, you know, he had it right in the control room. And we went in to listen to it, and I listened to it, and I just thought, I *hate* it, it just was so horrible.”
Q: “You said that to him?”
GH: “Yeah, I said, ‘It’s horrible, I hate it.’ Eric [Clapton] said, ‘Oh, I love it.’ So I said, ‘Well, you can have it on your album then,’ but… I grew to like it." - 2000 interview, featured in Living In The Material World) [see post]
"What Is Life"
"‘What Is Life’ was written for Billy Preston in 1969. I wrote it very quickly, fifteen minutes or half an hour maybe, on my way to Olympic Studios, London, when I was producing one of his albums. Because of the situation at the session it seemed too difficult to go in there and say, ‘Hey I wrote this catchy pop song,’ while Billy was playing his funky stuff. I did it myself later on All Things Must Pass." - George Harrison, I Me Mine [see post]
"Behind That Locked Door"
"I think that [‘Behind That Locked Door’] was very much influenced by Bob [Dylan]'s ‘Nashville Skyline’  period. I actually wrote that the night before the Isle of Wight Festival [in August 1969]." - George Harrison, Billboard, 8 January 2001
"'Behind That Locked Door’ came from when Bob Dylan was playing at the Isle of Wight soon after his Nashville Skyline album. I wrote this song about him:
‘Why are you still crying?
Your pain is now through
Please forget those teardrops
Let me take them from you
The love you are blessed with
This world’s waiting for
So let out your heart please, please
From behind that locked door’
It was a good excuse to do a country tune with pedal steel guitar." - George Harrison, I Me Mine [see post]
"All Things Must Pass"
Q: "You once remarked that you were trying to write a Robbie Robertson kind of song with ‘All Things Must Pass.’"
George Harrison: "‘The Weight’ was the one I admired, it had a religious and a country feeling to it, and I wanted that. You absorb, then you interpret, and it comes out nothing like the thing you’re imagining, but it gives you a starting point." - Musician, November 1987
Q: "Where did the phrase ‘All Things Must Pass’ come from?"
George Harrison: "I think I got it from Richard Alpert/Baba Ram Dass, but I'm not sure. When you read of philosophy or spiritual things, it's a pretty widely used phrase. I wrote it after [the Band's 1968] ‘Music From Big Pink’ album; when I heard that song in my head I always heard Levon Helm singing it!" - Billboard, 8 January 2001
"'All Things Must Pass’ just shows the nature of the physical world. Everything is changing all the time. We get born and we die. But we are in this body, and we go through from birth to death. We stay the same — the soul is the same, but the body is changing. It’s the nature of… it’s called duality, and it just keeps changing. But everything passes except the essence of that, which is our soul." - George Harrison, French TV interview, 26 August 1997 [see post]
"Let It Down"
"The [‘Let It Down’] original guitar and vocal from the same tape with a little overdubbing circa 2000 — Let your hur hang all around me." - George Harrison, All Things Must Pass 30th anniversary remaster liner notes
"‘Let It Down’ is another one of my favorites." - Olivia Harrison, Dark Horse Radio, November 2018 [see post]
"Run Of The Mill"
"I liked the words to Run of the Mill. It was the first song I ever wrote that looked like a poem on paper, whereas most of them don’t seem much until you put the lyric to the tune. It’s like the North of England thing — you know, ‘Trouble at t’mill.’ It was when Apple was getting crazy — Ringo wanted it blue, John wanted it white, Paul wanted it green and I wanted it orange. Paul was falling out with us all and going around Apple offices saying ‘You’re no good’ — everybody was just incompetent (the Spanish Inquisition sketch). It was that period — the problem of partnerships:
[‘]Everyone has a choice
When to and not to raise their voices
It’s you that decides…[‘]" - George Harrison, I Me Mine
Q: "Is there one particular George song that always reconnects you with him?"
Olivia Harrison: "Run Of The Mill [from All Things Must Pass]. It’s a really beautiful song. Its lyrics are very inspiring - ‘It’s you that decides/ Which way you will turn’ - and always a lovely reminder of him" - MOJO, November 2011
“Actually, Dhani Harrison's favorite song by his old man is ‘Run of the Mill,’ from the classic LP All Things Must Pass. He says the first line, ‘Everyone has choice when to or not to raise their voices,’ resonates with him. ‘The message of that song is so important... especially now. It's a spiritual song about getting enlightened.’" - The Stranger, 8 November 2017
"I get asked that question a lot, what’s my favorite song, but actually, ‘Run Of The Mill’ I think is my favorite George song. You know, it’s the sentiment and the wisdom in it, and it’s a reminder of how to live." - Olivia Harrison, BBC Radio 2, 28 September 2019 [see post]
Q: What was the inspiration for the song 'Run of the Mill' [?]"
George Harrison: "There was an expression that came from Yorkshire where they made fabric. Run of the mill just means average. I was using that phrase more or less, because, the Beatles were just splitting up. I don't know if they had that expression in America. " (MSN web chat, 15 February 2001)
"Let It Roll (The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp)"
"The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp is a piece of personal indulgence inspired by an eccentric lawyer from the 1800s whom I have come to know by becoming the proprietor of his Victorian folly, my home [Friar Park]. Sir Frank was also the authority on medieval gardens. Phil Spector said if I were to change the lyric I’d have a few cover versions of the song, but those words were written because that’s what it was." - George Harrison, I Me Mine
Q: "Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) was inspired by the eccentric gardener who used to own Friar Park, which was bought by George."
Olivia Harrison: "I love that song. George was a young man — aged 27 — when he bought it. The garden was derelict and overgrown. It would take a rare person to look at that and say, ‘This is great.’ But he just set about restoring it. It's really a beautiful, beautiful place and it was just about doing it for the love of it." - Something For The Weekend, June 2009 [see post]
"Isn't It A Pity"
Q: "Had you intended songs like ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ to be things just for you?"
George Harrison: "No, I mean, this is the funny thing: imagine if the Beatles had gone on and on. Well, the songs on ‘All Things Must Pass,’ maybe some of them I would probably only just got ‘round to do now, you know, with my quota that I was allowed [laughs]. ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ would just have been a Beatles song, wouldn’t it? And now that could be said for each one of us. ‘Imagine’ would have been a Beatles song, but it was with John’s songs. It just happened that the Beatles finished." - Billboard, 30 December 2000 [see post]
"‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is about whenever a relationship hits a down point — instead of whatever other people do (like breaking each other’s jaws) I wrote a song. It was a chance to realize that if I felt somebody had let me down, then there’s a good chance I was letting someone else down. We all tend to break each other’s hearts, taking and not giving back — isn’t it a pity." - George Harrison, I Me Mine
Q: "What’s the history behind ‘Isn’t It A Pity’?”"
George Harrison: “It was done in 1970 on All Things Must Pass but I wrote it during about ’69 some time. It was probably an argument with the wife [Pattie Boyd] [laughter] or something like that! Love and a laugh!" - Goldmine, 27 November 1992
Q: "What was the inspiration for ‘Isn't It A Pity’?"
George Harrison: "It’s just an observation of how society and myself were or are. We take each other for granted - and forget to give back. That was really all it was about" - Billboard, 30 December 2000
"‘Isn't It A Pity’ is a masterpiece." - Tom Petty, Rolling Stone, 17 January 2002
"I think the basic thread that runs through it is his guitar playing and his sentiment, which veers towards a person questioning their existence and also somebody with a sense of humor ... And also, there's a longing, especially, like in the song 'Isn't It a Pity.' He really meant that. He used to feel so bad when bad things would happen. I think the ultimate was a couple of months before he died was 9/11. He was so disappointed and so heartbroken, like everyone else." - Olivia Harrison, spinner.com, June 2009 [see post]
"Outside the studio door [at Trident in London], whether it rained or not, there was always a handful of Apple Scruffs, they called them — Beatles fans. One was a girl all the way from Texas. Sometimes George would record from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and there they would be, waiting through the night [...]. In the morning they’d go off to their jobs and in the evening they'd be back outside the studio door again. Their grapevine was infallible. I wasn’t there a minute when they knew that ‘Big Al from New York’ was inside." - Al Aronowitz, The Blacklisted Journalist, July 2001 [see post]
"A lot of [Apple] Scruffs had a George fixation. We used to call him ‘The Body’ because we imagined what he was like underneath. Very skinny, all muscle, you know? We had a Beatle blanket to keep us warm during the night and we were in our sleeping-bags outside Abbey Road while George was recording ‘All Things Must Pass.’ George drove in and we scrambled to get out of sleeping-bags, George got distracted by the blanket that was hung up over the railings and drove his new BMW straight into the wall. We couldn’t stop laughing.
We had a good little routine going. We had our breakfast out there under the tree — milk, cornflakes, a few little provisions to make the experience bearable. Often we’d stay out all night, see The Beatles, go home, wash and then go off to work. Anyway, Phil Spector comes toddling out and asks what we were doing. ‘Breakfast,’ we said. ‘Can I have some?’ So there we were, the dawn breaking over London, crouched under a tree with Phil Spector munching on cornflakes and he’s really enjoying himself!
Phil was lovely to us, he understood exactly why we were out there. He sent us a letter when All Things Must Pass was finally out addressed to the Apple Scruffs at ‘The Steps,’ 3 Savile Row. He used to send us cards and was always enquiring how his Apple Scruffs were doing." - Gill Pritchard, MOJO, October 1996
One Apple Scruff, Carol Bedford, wrote a book, Waiting For The Beatles, published in 1984.
"I think an awful lot about the Scruffs has been misinterpreted. The other Beatles did not look down upon us, in fact a magazine used to be published by the Scruffs that George, John & Ringo used to have copies of.
I would urge people to try to see were reality began & fantasy ended with Carol Bedford’s book, sadly she upset quite a few people including George." - Gill, songfacts dot com [see post]
"We used to curse The Beatles sometimes under our breath whenever it was too cold or they ignored us, and that night it was particularly cold and we were particularly miffed. It was 6am and me and Carol Bedford, who was a big George fan, Lucy, Cathy and Margo were all outside Abbey Road. Mal Evans had been looking out through the letter box every so often. He opened the door and said, ‘Come inside girls, George wants to see you.’ We wondered what we’d done. We were ushered into the control room of Studio 3 and George said, ‘Sit down, I’ve got something to play you.’ He was very nervous, pacing up and down. He put this track [‘Apple Scruffs’] on and we all went gooey, it was the first time any of The Beatles had actually acknowledged the Scruffs by name publicly. He told us it was going to be on the album then slipped away in typical George fashion. We all just looked at each other, it was unbelievable. We were so moved we went home in a daze that morning and made him a giant wreath of flowers. When we gave it to him he said, ‘Well you have your own magazine, your own office on the steps, so why not your own song?’" - Gill Pritchard, MOJO, October 1996
"It was like he had seen it all, understood how we felt and, most of all, knew that we weren’t just sad, stupid girlies." - Wendy Sutcliffe, MOJO, October 1996
"Apple Scruffs was played to us about 6am one Sunday morning by George himself, Mal came out onto the steps at Abbey Road & took us into studio 3 to hear it." - Gill, songfacts dot com
"George, in particular, always had a problem with the fans, being naturally shy and a bit diffident, but he grew very fond of them [the Apple Scruffs] because he got to know them and they were there when he was going through some bad times [in 1970]." - Derek Taylor, MOJO, October 1996 [see post]
"When George finished the song ‘Apple Scruffs’, he asked us to all come in. And of course, we were dumbfounded because we were never asked to come in. We’re all sitting in there and they turn on the song ‘Apple Scruffs’. ‘Apple Scruffs, how I love you.’ It was amazing. We were all in a little huddle around him. He handed us this letter. [reading in full] ‘Dear Carol, Cathy and Lucy. Now as it’s finished — and off to the factory. I thought I’d tell you that I haven’t a clue whether it’s good or bad as I’ve heard it too much now! During the making of this epic album (most expensive album EMI ever had to pay for) I have felt positive and negative — pleased and displeased, and all the other opposites expected to be found in this material world. However, the one thing that didn’t waver, seems to me, to be ‘you three’ and Mal, always there as my sole supporters, and even during my worst moments I always felt the encouragement from you was sufficient to make me finish the thing. Thanks a lot, I am really overwhelmed by your apparent undying love, and I don’t understand it at all! Love from George (P.S. Don’t hold this evidence against me.) P.P.S. Phil Spector loves you too!’ He was a sweet man." - Cathy Sarver, Beatles Stories: A Fab Four Fan’s Ultimate Road Trip [see post]
"There was always a little knot of them [the Apple Scruffs]. They weren’t fashion model types, they were just little girls — just kids. [George] always took time to have a word with them, and I seem to remember him going out with tea for them sometimes when it was cold. I was impressed with how caring he was about these girls. I’ve been around a lot of other folks who have quite a different way of dealing with people, let’s put it that way." - Bobby Keys, George Harrison: Behind The Locked Door
"George stopped close to Apple Studios, where, as ever, a group of fans was waiting.
‘Hi Liz, how are you, how’s your mum? Is she still in hospital?’
That was typical of George. He always greeted everyone personally and had a few kind words for you too." - Klaus Voormann, translated from Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weißen Klavier, John?
"I did hear from him again — one last contact between us. In 1975, I listened to George's new album Extra Texture: Read all about it. The first track on side one was You, the song he had told me about at the Apple Christmas party in 1971. He had finally recorded it, four years after writing it. I wrote a cheerful, chatty note to George to thank him for recording it. The song would always bring back happy memories for me. By return post, I received George’s letter. It was addressed to ‘Carol Bedford’ which pleased me because I had signed ‘Carol from Texas.’" - Carol Bedford, Waiting For The Beatles [see post]
"Beware Of Darkness"
"'Beware Of Darkness' was written at home in England during a period when I had some of my friends from the Radha Krishna temple staying: 'Watch out for Maya.' I like the melody — it’s sort of strange. The lyrics are self-explanatory." - George Harrison, I Me Mine
"It was obviously very emotional for me to see [Dhani] up there [at the Concert for George on 29 November 2002] paying tribute to his dad. And listening to George’s words — ‘Beware of sadness/ It can hit you, it can hurt you, make you sore/ And what is more, that is not what you are here for’ — feeling so incredibly sad and trying not to be sad — taking George’s advice." - Olivia Harrison, Rolling Stone, 9 October 2003 [see post]
"[During the 2002 rehearsals and final performance for the Concert for George, George's] words became a constant dialogue to us. Especially lines like:
‘Beware of sadness, it can hit you, it can hurt you Make you sore and what is more That is not what you are here for.’
So we tried not to be sad, but instead celebrated the life and music of a great artiste, the beautiful ‘quiet’ one from Liverpool who became a man of many words as well as worlds, a wise and coveted friend, father and seeker who transcended the distractions of success and fame to maintain a one-pointed focus upon his goal of spiritual awakening. He did all this while entertaining the world and having an equal measure of fun along the way." - Olivia Harrison, Concert for George liner notes
"‘[George] would say, “Look, we’re not these bodies, let’s not get hung up on that,”’ says [Tom] Petty, who has practiced meditation ever since his friend introduced him to it. ‘George would say, “I just want to prepare myself so I go the right way, and go to the right place.”’ He pauses, and laughs. ‘I’m sure he’s got that worked out.’" - Rolling Stone, 15 September 2011 [see post]
"Awaiting On You All"
"'Awaiting On You All’ is about Japa Yoga meditation, which is repetition on beads (mala) of mantras. A mantra is mystical energy encased in a song structure, and each mantra contains within its vibrations a certain power. They are constructed from the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. (Devanagari — language of the Gods) and they turn the mind towards concentration on the supreme releasing spiritual energy in the Chakras of the body.
Most mantras for Japa utilize the many names of God, and the Maha Mantra has been prescribed as the easiest and surest way of attaining God-Realization in this present age. (It can also rebuild the atoms in the body and make your life sublime!)" - George Harrison, I Me Mine
"This one, I was just going to bed, and I was cleaning me teeth – scrubbing me teeth, and suddenly in me head came this, ‘You don’t need a… You don’t need a…’ All I had to do was pick up the guitar and find what key it was in and fill in the missing words." - George Harrison, Rock Around The World, October 1974 [see post]
"Art Of Dying"
"Some of them I wrote about three years ago and I kept them hidden because I reckoned they were too far out. One was called ‘The Art of Dying’. But I’m going to record it." - George Harrison, FLIP, February 1970
"The Art Of Dying. Everybody is worried about dying, but the cause of death (which most can’t figure out unless they are diseased) is birth, so if you don’t want to die you don’t get born! So, the ‘art of dying‘ is when somebody can consciously leave the body at death, as opposed to falling down dying without knowing what’s going on. […] When you’re born, your life (past Karma) is like a piece of string with knots in it and you’ve got to try, before you died, to undo all the knots: but you tie another twenty trying to get one undone. […] You have to practice all your life as you are likely to be in great pain as you are leaving your body — which could be at any moment. I mean I don’t want to be lying there as I’m dying thinking, ‘Oh shit, I forgot to put the cat out,’ or, ‘I didn’t get a Rolls-Royce,’ because then you may have to come right back just to do those things, and then you have got more knots on your piece of string." - George Harrison, I Me Mine
“Well, spiritual exercises are one thing but, says Dhani, his father’s faith held, from the 1998 cancer diagnosis until the end: ‘He never flinched. He never felt sorry for himself. He never lost his sense of humor. He wasn’t afraid of death, his own mortality, although he was very aware of it. He wasn’t even attached to his body, if you know what I mean. We’d be in the kitchen and he’d say, “Dhan, you know we are not these bodies, don’t you?”
‘And that carried over to the final stage where you have to lose your loved ones. As everyone in the world has to. But the more prepared you are the better. It’s like training for the Olympics. That’s what he did mentally his whole life ... and he pulled it off, happily and in the most exemplary way you ever could.’" - The Times, November 2002 [see post]
"I Live For You"
"George [Harrison] is a fantastic person! He’s a lot like [Bob] Dylan; their personalities are an awful lot alike." - Pete Drake, The Beatles: Off The Record 2
"The main thing [about the Harrisong ‘I Live For You,’ unreleased until the 30th anniversary reissue of All Things Must Pass] for me is the Pete Drake solo on pedal steel guitar. He died [in 1988], and I often thought if his family is still around, then suddenly they’ll be hearing him play this thing that they’ve never heard before. I really loved his pedal steel guitar." - George Harrison, Billboard, 8 January 2001 [see post]
"I suddenly realized I’d got too many tracks for an album — which actually ended up as a double, not counting the ‘[Apple] Jam’ session — and that one track [‘I Live For You’] sounded like we hadn't nailed it properly, and it sounded on top of that a bit too fruity. I didn't include it because I never finished it.
But coming back to it, I fixed the drums up very simply. But the main thing about it for me is the Pete Drake solo on pedal steel guitar. He died [in 1988], and I often thought if his family is still around, then suddenly they'll be hearing him playing this thing that they've never heard before. I really loved his pedal steel guitar — the bagpipes of country & western music." - George Harrison, Billboard, 30 December 2000
"On ‘I Live For You,’ it was just not right, nobody had the feel of it, except the pedal steel guitar player, and the rhythm guitarist. And so I didn’t want to use it, I didn’t think we got it. I think at the time I was thinking the song’s a bit fruity anyway, we’ve got enough songs, we’ll leave it off. So I just went back and fixed it up because people like to have bonus tracks." - George Harrison, interview, 15 February 2001
Q: "Why was ‘I Live For You’ left out of the original mix? (I think it’s lovely, thank you for putting out at last!)"
George Harrison: "I didn’t think that we had got a good enough take on it. Except for Pete Drake, the pedal steel guitar player. At that time, I had so many other tracks as well, so we just left it off. It did need patching up in the drum department." - Yahoo chat, 15 February 2001 [see post]
"It's Johnny's Birthday"
Q: “What are your memories of recording ‘It’s Johnny’s Birthday’? Was it in honor of John Lennon’s thirtieth birthday?”
George Harrison: "Yeah. Yoko asked us to give a recording for John’s birthday, so I looked in the Abbey Road tape library and I found ‘Congratulations.’ And I just kind of slowed it down, speeded it up, added a few things, and we made up the words, and that was what I sent to her, to Yoko. I don’t know how it ended up on the jam session [on the album All Things Must Pass], but there it is." - interview, 15 February 2001 [see post]
Q: "Who was Jeep on [the Apple Jam track] ‘I Remember Jeep’?"
George Harrison: "Jeep was actually Eric’s dog — a funny kind of orangy-brown dog with pink eyes [laughs]." - Billboard, 8 January 2001
Q: "On ‘Thanks For The Pepperoni,’ did somebody send out for pizza?"
George Harrison: "No. If you listen to Lenny Bruce’s ‘Religions, Inc.,’ he goes on about the pope and things, and then he goes, ‘And thanks for the pepperoni’ [laughs]. I mean, you got random tracks, so it’s like, ‘What can we call it?’ For the jams, I didn’t want to just throw in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn’t part of the record; that’s why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus" - Billboard, 8 January 2001 [see post]
"The biggest thrill in a way": All Things Must Pass is released
On 27 November 1970, All Things Must Pass was released in the USA (and three days later, in the U.K.).
George Harrison (on whether he considered All Things Must Pass his best sustained work): "No, not really. It was the biggest thrill in a way that it was my first record. To be able to do all my own songs on one record was a novelty at that point, you know." - Associated Press, 2001
"When John [Lennon] and I later talked about George, he said that he was embarrassed, and he said Paul [McCartney] was also. I don’t know if that’s true, but he said Paul and he were embarrassed when they heard George’s album [All Things Must Pass] finished. They were embarrassed that they had kept down his songwriting all those years to push their own songs on the Beatle albums. They had no idea he was that talented. They knew he was as a musician, but they didn’t realize he was that brilliant a songwriter. And it embarrassed him years later and he’d apologized to George." - Howard Smith, The Smith Tapes
"It is both an intensely personal statement and a grandiose gesture, a triumph over artistic modesty, even frustration. In this extravaganza of piety and sacrifice and joy, whose sheer magnitude and ambition may dub it the War and Peace of rock and roll, the music itself is no longer the only message. [...] The production is of classic Spectorian proportions, Wagnerian, Brucknerian, the music of mountain tops and vast horizons." - Ben Gerson, All Things Must Pass reviewed, Rolling Stone, 21 January 1971
"I remember John was really negative at the time, but I was away and he came ‘round to my house, and there was a friend of mine living there who was a friend of John’s. He saw the album cover and said, ‘He must be fucking mad, putting three records out. And look at the picture on the front, he looks like an asthmatic Leon Russell.’ There was a lot of negativity going down. You know... Ringo played on almost the whole album. I don't care about that. Fuck it — we’ve been through the thing. I felt that whatever happened, whether it was a flop or a success, I was gonna go on my own just to have a bit of peace of mind." - George Harrison, Crawdaddy, February 1977
"In his music, in his epic passage from ‘Don’t Bother Me’ to ‘Horse to the Water,’ [see post from 1 October 2019] George Harrison conveyed his distressed, confessed his vulnerabilities, and expressed his longing - as did the ancient Vedic poets — for the nearness of God.
Through his recordings, he prayed for the human race. Perhaps, in the days to come, each of us — in his or her own way — might spare a moment to pray for him.
Last Christmas, George Harrison said that after his recording/reissue work in 2001 was done, he wanted very much ‘to go someplace sunny, someplace warm.’ Hopefully, that place will be in our hearts." - Timothy White (fmr. editor in chief of Billboard), Billboard, 15 December 2001 [see post]
Remastering the album in 2000
"[George] was as funny as ever; he was as down to earth as ever. He was wonderful. My wife got to meet he and Olivia and hang out a bit. Both he and Olivia and Dhani were all sweethearts to her. They didn’t have to be. Olivia took my wife, Cheryl, out with her to find furniture and just bits and pieces for the house. They were wonderful and so down to earth." - Ken Scott, Daytrippin’, 25 July 2012
"Ken had been working there [Friar Park] continuously for four months and he told me so much of what he was doing and what George and Olivia were like. When I first got there, he took me up to the studio where George and Dhani were in the tracking room playing the guitar. George immediately came out and introduced himself, like he even needed to. He and Olivia were very warm and welcoming. It wasn’t anything like someone would perceive meeting a Beatle would be. It was just meeting my husband’s workmates." - Cheryl Scott, Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust [see post]
Ken Scott: "So we’re sitting there, and we’re listening, and we just look at each other and burst out laughing. And it was for two reasons: one, here we are, thirty years on, doing exactly the same was we did thirty years ago, it just didn’t make any sense to us. The other thing was that how much we hated the sound. It was — we had both moved on, we loved all of the reverb and all that thirty years ago, but now we’d like things a lot drier, a lot cleaner. And so hearing it, it was just we wanted to remix it again, to do almost like — what was the Let It Be…?"
Q: "Let It Be Naked, I think."
KS: "Yes, that was it, yeah. Something like that, get rid of all the Spector side of things. I don’t know if that would work.”"
Q: "Do you know, I think that would now feel dated as well, because that bareness was the sound in 2000, and for some reason, I’ve been playing All Things Must Pass again recently, and it sounds contemporary. It’s a really weird thing to say. You know, it sounds really good today, Ken, especially your remastering that you did then. I talked to someone else about the record, and they said you don’t reallynotice anything apart from the songs and the vocal, and isn’t that a brilliant thing to say about an album?”
KS: "That is, actually, that, that’s wonderful. Now, my whole thing is that to get rid of all that reverb and all of that, you might start to hear some things that managed to be covered up by all of that reverb and it might not, there might be mistakes and things like that that would suddenly become evident. And also, these days, without George, I don’t think it should be done." - BBC Radio 2, 28 September 2019 [see post]
Q: "How have your thoughts changed regarding the production of All Things Must Pass since it was first recorded in 1970?"
George Harrison: "Well, in those days it was… like, the reverb was kind of used a bit more than what I would do now — in fact I don’t used reverb at all, I can’t stand it. But at the time I did the record with Phil Spector and we did it like Phil Spector would do it. You know, it’s hard to go back to anything thirty years later and expect it to be how you would want it now. I’ve got to say, if I did the record today, in thirty years I probably would want to change it. That’s the only thing about the production: it was done in cinemascope and it had a lot of reverb on it to what I would use now, but that’s what it was and at that time I really liked it."
Q: "Both you and John Lennon chose to use Phil Spector as producer for your first proper solo albums. How come Mr. Spector?"
GH: Well, we knew him a little bit, he was - he needed a job [chuckles]. And Phil was around; if you remember he was brought in to London by Allen Klein when we’d done the record Get Back, the Let It Be - became the Let It Be record. Let It Be was supposed to be just a live recording. And we ended up doing it in the studio, and it wasn’t… nobody was happy with it, it was troubled times. Everybody listened to it back and didn’t really like it and we didn’t really want to put it out. So later down the line, Klein, this guy Allen Klein, brought Phil Spector and said, 'Well what do you think about Phil looking at the record?' So at least John and I, we said, Yeah. We liked Phil Spector, we loved all his records, so let him do it. And he did what he did and then, everybody knows the rest. And so he was around, and one day I was with Phil and I was on my way to Abbey Road to do 'Instant Karma,' and so I made Phil come with me and that’s how he got to do that record as well. That’s how we first started working with him." - Interview conducted by Chris Carter, 15 February 2001
"My Sweet Lord (2000)"
"George Harrison is so concerned about the state of the world that he’s jokingly thinking of calling his next album 'Your Planet Is Doomed, Volume One.’ 'The world is just going mental as far as I’m concerned. It’s speeding up with the whole technology and everything that’s happening. '[T]he point of ‘My Sweet Lord’  is just to try and remind myself basically that there’s more to life than the material world. Basically I think the planet is doomed. And it’s my attempt to try to put a spin on the spiritual side, a reminder for myself and for anybody who’s interested.’" - News report, 2001 [see post]
"Well, I kind of enjoyed doing it [‘My Sweet Lord (2000)’] because of a few reasons. I thought the song was… you know, at the time it was so popular, and it was also very controversial, and the subject matter is not something that you normally hear, you know, people sing records like that unless it’s like gospel choirs or something. So I liked the idea of going back to it, especially because in this lawsuit I had about that it was all down to these two phrases: one was doo-doo-doo, phrase A, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, phrase B. And that constituted what they said was an infringement of the copyright. So I really enjoyed singing the song again and not using those three notes in that order. And so that was one of the reasons I liked to do it. And also because it had so much response from people on a spiritual level years ago. You know, many people have written to me over the years saying, ‘Thanks for doing that song because that helped me to do this, or go to join the Krishnas or whatever, or just look into myself a bit more.’ So I thought, well, I’ll see if there’s a reason to reinvent the song a little bit and also maybe somebody’d want to play it on the radio, give it a bit more promotion, and play a better slide guitar solo. [chuckles] So many reasons. It was fun." - George Harrison, interview, 15 February 2001 [see post]