George Harrison – Isn’t It a Pity

This 1970 George Harrison song is off of the great album “All Things Must Pass.” It is often overlooked but its one of my favorite George Harrison songs. George wrote it in 1966 but it didn’t see daylight until 1970. He brought it up on the Let It Be sessions but he later said that John Lennon rejected it. That I don’t understand…I Me Mine was passed but not this one? I like “I Me Mine” but not like this one. Maybe George did more work on it afterward or it was the length of the song.

It resembles Hey Jude in its structure. It was the B side to My Sweet Lord which went to #1 on the charts. In Canada, this song was the preferred song and it went to #1 in Canada.

No one benefitted from the break up of the Beatles like George. He had so many songs that we had written and could not get enough of them on Beatles albums, understandably so with Lennon and McCartney. He released a 3 album set called “All Things Must Pass” in 1970.

George began recording this Isn’t It A Pity on June 2, 1970. Phil Spector produced it using his trademark Wall of Sound with heavy reverb. On the remastered version, the reverb is toned down a little.

This is from Timothy White’s interview with George Harrison that appeared in the Dec. 30, 2000, issue of Billboard:

Had you intended songs like “Isn’t It A Pity” to be things just for you?

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. 

What was the inspiration for “Isn’t It A Pity”?

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.

It’s like “love lost and love gained between 16- and 20-year-olds.” But I must explain: Once, at the time I was at Warner Bros. and I wrote that song “Blood From A Clone” [on the 1981 “Somewhere In England” album], that was when they were having all these surveys out on the street to find out what was a hit record. And apparently, as I was told, a hit record is something that is about “love gained or lost between 14- and 19-year-olds,” or something really dumb like that.

So that’s why I wrote “Isn’t Is A Pity” [laughs]; I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll get in on that!”

 

“Isn’t It A Pity”

Isn’t it a pity
Now, isn’t it a shame
How we break each other’s hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pitySome things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity

Isn’t it a pity
Isn’t is a shame
How we break each other’s hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity

Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity
Forgetting to give back
Now, isn’t it a pity

[6 times, fade the 6th:]
What a pity
What a pity, pity, pity
What a pity
What a pity, pity, pity

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

20 thoughts on “George Harrison – Isn’t It a Pity”

  1. George sure did have a back log of songs- I know technically one could say that “All Things Must Pass” isn’t his debut album- but I think of it as his debut- has anyone else ever debuted with a double album? Isn’t It A Pity?- one of his great songs on the album.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t remember another double album debut from anyone… How good would have Let It Be have been if Isn’t It a Pity and All Things Must Pass would have been on it.
      My favorite by him is the All Things Must Pass song but this is really close.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you on the song All Things Must Pass… Had there been one more Beatles album how could they have held him to two songs? I can see why he was unhappy at the end. He was bursting with songs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He would have spent the 70s with a backlog… They would have had to give him 4 at least and that still would not have worked.
        I just wonder now and always have. Why didn’t they just say…hey let’s all do a solo thing and come back. I wonder if that was ever considered?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, also I don’t believe that was done then until CSNY did it and agreed.
        With Klein, I’m sure it was too late by the end.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good song, I’d forgotten about it. I must add though that growing up in Canada, I heard “My Sweet Lord” far more on radio- maybe that was a local/regional thing. Anyway, as years go by I find myself leaning towards thinking George my fave Beatle more and more. Outstanding songwriter and seemed also like a very decent chap

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He seemed very down to earth. Reading fan encounters…George and John seemed the most approachable.
      That Canada info took me by surprise also. I read it in more than one place…I just can’t believe this was rejected by the Beatles.

      Like

    1. Oh the “All Things Must Pass” song is my favorite by him period…this one runs a close second. He must have felt like he got out of jail with all of those songs ready to go.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read somewhere that when he was able to release his big stash of songs after the Beatles breakup, it felt like taking a big sh*t. I just know he had a lot of good ones that I’m glad we’ve gotten to hear.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol exactly. He had a quota of 2 songs per album…they would have had to last til the 80s to get all of his songs on…not counting the ones he was writing at the time…I can’t believe he wrote this in 1966…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. An interesting side note… about Peter Frampton and the talk box. “It was just the coolest effect,” Frampton enthused. “I had been actually introduced to it physically on the George Harrison sessions [for] ‘All Things Must Pass.’ I was playing on that, on the tracks, and Pete Drake was brought in from Nashville, the incredible, legendary pedal steel player. I think Bob Dylan had recommended to George that he was on ‘Nashville Skyline.’ And so Pete Drake comes into Abbey Road and he’s sitting right there, and sets up his pedal steel. The nicest, nicest man. He says, ‘Hey, Peter, have you ever heard one of these voice boxes?'” When Frampton told Drake he’d heard the effect but hadn’t seen it in action, Drake quickly obliged. “He gets out this little box, sets it on the side of the pedal steel there, plugs it in, whatever, a pipe comes out, he sticks it in his mouth, and the pedal steel starts singing to me. It’s like I think I’ve died and gone to heaven — this is the sound, and it’s right in front of me. Pete Drake’s wife had lent that very one to Joe Walsh to do ‘Rocky Mountain Way,’ so that’s how it all started.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Clapton and Billy Preston’s rendition at the Concert for George gets me every time. Cowboy Junkies do a nice version, too. George could’ve put a third version of it on All Things Must Pass and it would’ve been just fine by me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just can’t believe it was rejected by the Beatles. I was going to have the Concert for George version on the link… All Things Must Pass is my favorite George song with this one running a very close second.

      Like

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