George Harrison was known as a silent member of the Beatles. Still, when he spoke, he never minced the words and tended to speak the truth, such as admitting to having worked with John Lennon on the Introduce Meetings were nerve wracking. When George once assessed his songwriting skills, he was honestly, but also completely wrong.
George showed up The Dick Cavett Show in November 1971. It came a few months after his landmark Concert for Bangladesh event and a few weeks before the album hit concert shelves.
Cavett asked George several questions during their wide-ranging interview, including some about the Beatles and George’s drug use. The former Beatle answered honestly, and he did the same when Cavett asked about the songwriting (via YouTube):
“It’s not really music. There’s a difference between people writing music and classical things and big arrangements to what I do. It’s really very simple.”
Was George humble? Maybe, and only he would have known. Modesty or not, George seemed brutally honest but dead wrong about his songwriting skills.
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George seemed brutally honest to Cavett about his talents, calling what he did easy.
He wouldn’t admit it, but there was nothing easy about George’s musical talent.
He struggled and scraped to get his songs onto Beatles records, but they were disproportionately among the most infectious tunes the band released. Tracks like “I Need You” from the 1965s Help Show off George’s burgeoning songwriting skills. These talents began to blossom in his two later in the year rubber soul Songs “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone” which have intricate melodies that vary drastically between verse and chorus.
Listen to “Within You Without You”. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and try to say that there’s something easy about it. It was the longest and most ambitious song in the Beatles’ catalog at the time, and they made it because of George’s songwriting skills.
With the Fab Four and in his solo career, George wrote songs that transcended genres. He floated effortlessly between ballads and rock music while writing songs that embraced his love of Eastern music, country-esque slide guitar, and even soul/R&B elements (“What Is Life”).
George called his work easy, but he was wrong. If writing a pop song was easy, more people would be churning out infectious tunes like “Got My Mind Set on You.” They’re not, proving that George’s songwriting skills came to him easily but were elite-level talents few possess.
George took his songwriting talent with him when the Beatles broke up.
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His first solo album All things must pass, was certified gold within two days of its December 1970 release, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. It did better on the charts than either John or Paul McCartney’s first solo albums. All things must pass was certified seven times platinum, and George achieved platinum status again in 1988 cloud nine. His 1973 album life in the material world spent five weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Fifteen of George’s solo songs made the Billboard singles chart. Three of them – “My Sweet Lord”, “Give Me Love” and “Got My Mind Set on You” spent six weeks together at #1.
George seemed honest when he said his songwriting was easy. We’re here to remind everyone that he was 100% wrong.
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