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The Back Story of The Beatles' Something From Abbey Road LP
There was always a hierarchy organization to The Beatles. It began way back in 1957-58. It was present throughout their history until the divorce of the band in 1969. The hierarchy stemmed from teenagers being teenagers. John, was the oldest, Paul was three years younger, George was "the baby" of the band. John thought Paul was crazy when Paul brought George to the audition to join the band in a rear of a bus one day. To John, George was like a Freshman in HS. John was the senior.
Because of the ingrained Beatle hierarchy, it was John and Paul who ruled the band. They wrote the hit songs. They were the better vocalists. George could play way better lead guitar. His voice was always more "marginal". His songs, were, even to him, not as good. Thus, George was always nervous and insecure about playing his songs to John and Paul. He felt like a student to the masters of John and Paul. Of course, John and Paul did not feel this way about George, which is why nearly all Beatle LPs have some Harrison songs on them.
George began writing Something during the White Album sessions in 1968 on a nearby piano. Like all artists, the process was stumbling through chords and melodies, then interrupted by other songs and so on. Eventually a completed song emerged. Like Paul's Yesterday, where he sat on the song for months because he was sure he had copied it from another song. George felt the same about "Something". As George said, "I just did nothing with the song for six months". George recalled a Ray Charles song also called "Something". Like always, he was very apprehensive to play it for John and Paul. He feared rejection. Finally, he asked politely if the recording engineer would record it, asked as if he was imposing on the engineer. Thus, the first demo was done but only after John and Paul had left for the day. The engineer thought it was a beautiful ballad and was shocked to see George, a Beatle mind you, so timid.
With encouragement from positive feedback, George dared to play the demo to John and Paul, who listened carefully. After the song, both loved it. Lennon would later say, George's song was the best track on Abbey Road. Paul told him that it was the best song he ever had written. George Martin, their producer, called it breathtaking. He was shocked that George could write such a good song because George was "the loner" within The Beatles.
Still unconvinced, George gave the song to Joe Cocker for his LP, who recorded it first. The Beatles began in earnest recording a zillion takes in the next several months from April-August, 1969. During these takes, the Beatle hierarchy collapsed as George, not Paul or John, directed how he wanted his song to develop. George dared to instruct both about arrangements and how to play! This had never happened-it was 1969 now.
Another rare thing happened, The Beatles released it as a single. The last time George had a Beatle single was with his iconic, "Taxman" from 1966 (my favorite-a timeless piece of early grunge sound). Something was released in Oct. 1969 and remained in the #3 spot for four months! It remains the second most covered Beatle song by other artists, second to Paul's, Yesterday in 1965.
Ray Charles recorded it in 1971. Frank Sinatra called it, "the greatest love song of the past 50 years".