George Harrison – My Sweet Lord

I’ve posted many of Harrison’s songs but I avoided this one because it is so well known… but after hearing it yesterday I couldn’t resist anymore. The opening chords with the slide part is perfect. The song was/is hugely popular and peaked at #1 as My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, #1 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand.

After Harrison died, this was re-released in the UK, where it once again went to #1. Proceeds from the single went to the Material World Charitable Foundation, which Harrison started in 1973 to support charities that work with children and the poor.

It came off the album “All Things Must Pass” which was a triple album and suddenly George was the Beatle that was finally heard and on top of the world…and it is arguably the best album by an ex-Beatle.

In 1971, Harrison was accused of copying its melody from the Chiffons’ 1963 song “He’s So Fine.” Eventually, the United States district court ruled that Harrison was guilty of subconscious plagiarism, and Harrison developed an extreme paranoia about songwriting for many years. Later on, George would write and record “This Song” as a response to what happened.

Harrison did a parody of this along with the “Pirate Song” with Monty Python…video is below.

From Songfacts

This was Harrison’s first single as a solo artist, and it was his biggest hit. The song is about the Eastern religions he was studying.

Highly unusual for a hit song, Harrison repeats part of a Hindu mantra in the lyric when he sings, “Hare Krishna… Krishna, Krishna.” When set to music, this mantra is typically part of a chant, that acts as a call to the Lord. Harrison interposes it with a Christian call to faith: “Hallelujah” – he was pointing out that “Hallelujah and Hare Krishna are quite the same thing.”

In the documentary The Material World, Harrison explains: “First, it’s simple. The thing about a mantra, you see… mantras are, well, they call it a mystical sound vibration encased in a syllable. It has this power within it. It’s just hypnotic.”

In 1971, Bright Tunes Music sued Harrison because this sounded too much like the 1963 Chiffons hit “He’s So Fine.” Bright Tunes was controlled by The Tokens, who set it up when they formed the production company that recorded “He’s So Fine” – they owned the publishing rights to the song.

During the convoluted court case, Harrison explained how he composed the song: He said that in December 1969, he was playing a show in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the group Delaney and Bonnie, whose piano player was Billy Preston (who contributed to some Beatles recordings). Harrison said that he started writing the song after a press conference when he slipped away and started playing some guitar chords around the words “Hallelujah” and “Hare Krishna.” He then brought the song to the band, who helped him work it out as he came up with lyrics. When he returned to London, Harrison worked on Billy Preston’s album Encouraging Words. They recorded the song for the album, which was released on Apple Records later in 1970, and Harrison filed a copyright application for the melody, words and harmony of the song. Preston’s version remained an album cut, and it was Harrison’s single that was the huge hit and provoked the lawsuit, which was filed on February 10, 1971, while the song was still on the chart.

In further testimony, Harrison claimed he got the idea for “My Sweet Lord” from The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day,” not “He’s So Fine.”

When the case was filed, Harrison’s manager was Allen Klein, who negotiated with Bright Tunes on his behalf. The case was delayed when Bright Tunes went into receivership, and was not heard until 1976. In the meantime, Harrison and Klein parted ways in bitter fashion, and Klein began consulting Bright Tunes. Harrison offered to settle the case for $148,000 in January 1976, but the offer was rejected and the case brought to court.

The trial took place February 23-25, with various expert witnesses testifying. The key to the case was the musical pattern of the two songs, which were both based on two musical motifs: “G-E-D” and “G-A-C-A-C.” “He’s So Fine” repeated both motifs four times, “My Sweet Lord” repeated the first motif four times and the second motif three times. Harrison couldn’t identify any other songs that used this exact pattern, and the court ruled that “the two songs are virtually identical.” And while the judge felt that Harrison did not intentionally copy “My Sweet Lord,” that was not a defense – thus Harrison was on the hook writing a similar song without knowing it. Harrison was found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” in a verdict handed down on August 31, 1976.

Assessing damages in the case, the judge determined that “My Sweet Lord” represented 70% of the airplay of the All Things Must Pass album, and came up with a total award of about $1.6 million. However, in 1978 Allen Klein’s company ABKCO purchased Bright Tunes for $587,000, which prompted Harrison to sue. In 1981, a judge decided that Klein should not profit from the judgment, and was entitled to only the $587,000 he paid for the company – all further proceeds from the case had to be remitted back to Harrison. The case dragged on until at least 1993, when various administrative matters were finally settled.

The case was a burden for Harrison, who says he tried to settle but kept getting dragged back to court by Bright Tunes. After losing the lawsuit, he became more disenfranchised with the music industry, and took some time off from recording – after his 1976 album Thirty Three & 1/3, he didn’t release another until his self-titled album in 1979. He told Rolling Stone, “It’s difficult to just start writing again after you’ve been through that. Even now when I put the radio on, every tune I hear sounds like something else.”

This was recorded at Abbey Road studios using the same equipment The Beatles used. There were some familiar faces at the sessions who had contributed to Beatles albums, including John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Billy Preston and Eric Clapton. Bobby Whitlock was friends with Harrison and Clapton, and played keyboards on the album. When we spoke with Whitlock, he shared his thoughts:

“That whole session was great. George Harrison, what a wonderful man. All the time that I ever knew him, which was from 1969 to his passing, he was a wonderful man. He included everyone on everything he did because there was enough for all.”

Whitlock adds, “All during the sessions, the door would pop open and in would spring three or four or five Hare Krishnas in their white robes and shaved heads with a pony tail coming out the top. They were all painted up, throwing rose petals and distributing peanut butter cookies.” (For more on these sessions, check out our full Bobby Whitlock interview)

This was the first #1 hit for any Beatle after the band broke up. Harrison was the first Beatle to release a solo album. He came out with Wonderwall Music, a soundtrack to the movie Wonderwall, in 1968.

When this song was released, the phrase “Hare Krishna” was associated with a religious group called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, whose members would often approach passengers in airports, seeking donations and trying to solicit members. Individuals in this group became popularly known as “Hare Krishnas,” with a generally negative connotation.

Artists who record chant music often face a negative reaction from listeners who don’t understand the mantras. When we spoke with Krishna Das, the leading American chant musician, he explained: “‘My Sweet Lord’ is very clear and very beautiful, but the problem is that English has been appropriated by Western religion and it’s very hard to talk about spiritual things in a song that doesn’t get too ‘organized religion-y,’ you know? And then you get a lot of people who have a negative reaction to that as well. You can get a lot of negativity from the organized religion people. Like, ‘This isn’t our Jesus. This isn’t the way it is.'”

Phil Spector produced this and sang backup. With the blessing of Harrison and John Lennon (and over the objections of Paul McCartney), Spector produced the last Beatles album, Let It Be.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Peter Frampton verified that he played lead guitar on “My Sweet Lord.” According to Frampton, Harrison was a fan of his and invited him to the studio, where he handed Frampton his legendary Les Paul. Frampton assumed he was going to play rhythm, but Harrison said he wanted him to play lead, so Frampton did. Frampton wasn’t officially credited for this (just as Eric Clapton wasn’t credited on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), but rumors circulated for years.

Harrison released a new version, “My Sweet Lord 2000,” when he reissued All Things Must Pass.

Producer Phil Spector thought “My Sweet Lord” was the commercial hit of the album, and everyone else resisted him on that. According to Phil, George and others worried about how the public might react to the religious overtones and the Hare Krishna influence.

George Harrison parodied “My Sweet Lord” during Eric Idle’s Rutland Weekend Television Christmas special on December 26, 1975, turning it into “The Pirate Song.” >>

Artists to cover this song include Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Richie Havens, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Julio Iglesias. The Chiffons also covered the song in 1975 amidst the plagiarism lawsuit over their song “He’s So Fine.”

The guitar riff on America’s 1975 #1 hit “Sister Golden Hair” was inspired by this track. That song was produced by George Martin, who worked on most of The Beatles albums.

Gerry Beckley, who wrote “Sister Golden Hair” and sang lead, said in his Songfacts interview: “I very openly tip my hat there to ‘My Sweet Lord’ and George Harrison. I was such a fan of all The Beatles but we knew George quite well and I just thought that was such a wonderful intro.”

U2 performed this as a tribute at their show in Atlanta on November 30, 2001, the night after Harrison died.

George Harrison and Monty Python.

 

 

My Sweet Lord

My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to know you
Really want to go with you
Really want to show you Lord
That it won’t take long, my Lord (hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (hallelujah)

I really want to see you
Really want to see you
Really want to see you, Lord
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord (hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (hallelujah)

I really want to know you (hallelujah)
Really want to go with you (hallelujah)
Really want to show you Lord (aaah)
That it won’t take long, my Lord (hallelujah)

Hmm (hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (hallelujah)
My, my, Lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (hare krishna)
My, my, my Lord (hare krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet Lord (krishna, krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (hare hare)

Now, I really want to see you (hare rama)
Really want to be with you (hare rama)
Really want to see you Lord (aaah)
But it takes so long, my Lord (hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (hare krishna)
My sweet Lord (hare krishna)
My sweet Lord (krishna krishna)
My Lord (hare hare)
Hm, hm (Gurur Brahma)
Hm, hm (Gurur Vishnu)
Hm, hm (Gurur Devo)
Hm, hm (Maheshwara)
My sweet Lord (Gurur Sakshaat)
My sweet Lord (Parabrahma)
My, my, my Lord (Tasmayi Shree)
My, my, my, my Lord (Guruve Namah)
My sweet Lord (Hare Rama)

(hare krishna)
My sweet Lord (hare krishna)
My sweet Lord (krishna krishna)
My Lord (hare hare)

George Harrison – Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

Another positive song from George. The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #8 in the UK and #9 in Canada in 1973. Just another good song from George that continues his positive message.

“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” replaced Wings’ “My Love” at number 1 on the Hot 100 singles chart…For the week ending 30 June that year, the Harrison and McCartney songs were ranked numbers 1 and 2 respectively.

George Harrison said this about the song: “Sometimes you open your mouth and you don’t know what you are going to say, and whatever comes out is the starting point. If that happens and you are lucky, it can usually be turned into a song. This song is a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it.”

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord . . .

Please take hold of my hand, that
I might understand you

Won’t you please
Oh won’t you

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord . . .

George Harrison – Devil’s Radio

This song was not a big hit but it was one of my favorites off of his “comeback” album Cloud Nine in the 1980s. The song is pure George. He always valued his privacy and in this song, he made it clear he detested gossip in any way.

“Devil’s Radio” was inspired by a church billboard Harrison had seen that stated “Gossip: The Devil’s Radio…Don’t Be a Broadcaster.” The song did peak at #4 in Billboard Mainstream Chart Rock charts. The Cloud Nine album peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts.

Even when George was young he didn’t like people knowing his business. As his mom would recall, “George was always against nosy mothers, and he used to hate all the neighbors who stood around gossiping.”

Devil’s Radio

Gossip, gossip
Gossip, gossip

I heard it in the night
Words that thoughtless speak
Like vultures swooping down below
On the devil’s radio

I hear it through the day
Airwaves gettin’ filled
With gossip broadcast to and fro
On the devil’s radio

Oh yeah, gossip
Gossip, oh yeah

He’s in the clubs and bars
And never turns it down
Talking about what he don’t know
On the devil’s radio

He’s in your TV set
Won’t give it a rest
That soul betraying so and so
The devil’s radio

Gossip, gossip
Gossip, gossip
(Oh yeah) gossip, (gossip) oh yeah
(Gossip) oh yeah, (oh yeah) gossip

It’s white and black like industrial waste
Pollution of the highest degree
You wonder why I don’t hang out much
I wonder how you can’t see

He’s in the films and songs
And on all your magazines
It’s everywhere that you may go
The devil’s radio

Oh yeah, gossip
Gossip, oh yeah

Runs thick and fast, no one really sees
Quite what bad it can do
As it shapes you into something cold
Like an Eskimo igloo

It’s all across our lives
Like a weed it’s spread
’till nothing else has space to grow
The devil’s radio

Can creep up in the dark
Make us hide behind shades
And buzzing like a dynamo
The devil’s radio

oh yeah
(Gossip) gossip, (gossip) gossip
Oh yeah, gossip I heard you on the secret wireless
Gossip, oh yeah You know the devil’s radio, child
Gossip, gossip
Gossip, gossip

George Harrison – Blow Away

This song gets overlooked at times. It’s a simple song but a good pop song. I do remember hearing this on the radio quite a bit when it was released. The song was on the album George Harrison (#14) and it peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #51 in the UK, and #7 in Canada. This song stood out a little in this disco and punk era.

Steve Winwood is providing backup vocals and playing a PolyMoog synthesizer. The song was included in the Eric Idle film “Nuns on the Run” released in 1990.

In 2010, AOL radio listeners chose the track as one of the “10 Best George Harrison Songs”, appearing at number 2 on the list, behind “My Sweet Lord”… I don’t agree with the AOL listeners as being number 2 but I do like the song.

 

The original video is below…the duck baffles me but I just enjoy it.

Blow Away

Day turned black, sky ripped apart
Rained for a year ’til it dampened my heart
Cracks and leaks
The floorboards caught rot
About to go down
I’d almost forgot.

All I got to do is to love you
All I got to be is, be happy
All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it
Blow away, blow away, blow away.

Sky cleared up, day turned to bright
Closing both eyes now the head filled with light
Hard to remember what a state I was in
Instant amnesia
Yang to the yin.

All I got to do is to love you
All I got to be is, be happy
All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it
Blow away, blow away, blow away.

Wind blew in, cloud was dispersed
Rainbows appearing, the pressures were burst
Breezes a-singing, now feeling good
The moment had passed
Like I knew that it should.

All I got to do is to love you
All I got to be is, be happy
All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it
Blow away, blow away, blow away.

George Harrison – What Is Life

A good rocker by George. He recorded this song when he was making his album All Things Must Pass in 1970. Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Bobby Keyes, and Badfinger are among the musicians on this recording.

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada in 1971. Originally, Harrison wrote this for Billy Preston with sort of a gospel feel. After it ended up being a fast rocker, he decided to record it himself.

In 2014 there was a contest to come up with a video to this song. The winner is at the bottom of the post. This is the announcement.

Congratulations to Brandon Moore from the United States whose video was chosen by Olivia & Dhani Harrison as the overall winner of the Genero.tv ‘What is Life’ Competition!

From Songfacts

Preston was one the early artists on the Beatles’ Apple label (he released two albums), and he was present at the sessions that yielded “Get Back.”

Harrison was writing many religious songs at the time, but this wasn’t one of them. The lyrics are directed to a person, not God.

The original song had piccolo, trumpet, and oboe parts that weren’t used because Harrison didn’t like the feel. They can be heard on the 2000 reissue of the album, where the original backing track is included as an extra song.

Phil Spector produced the album. Bobby Whitlock, who played keyboards at the sessions, had this to say about him in his Songfacts interview: “The real show in that whole place was Phil Spector – what a funny guy. He’s not too funny now, but then, what he was doing in there and the way he was carrying on, I thought, they’ve got all these mics out here catching us jamming, where they need a mic is on the inside. He was a pretty colorful character to say the least. That was one of the highlights of it – listening to him and watching him and watching how he operated. I learned a lot just from being around him. He’s just eccentric, he’s real creative. I agree with his work ethic. I concur with him 100% when it comes to being creative in the studio – put 6 guitars on it if you need it. If it wasn’t for Phil Spector, forget about The Righteous Brothers. There probably wouldn’t be a lot of us here from ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” – you know how many babies were made to that?”

On the album, the “O’Hara-Smith” singers are credited as background vocalists. Whitlock explains: “That’s Eric Clapton and me. If you listen, you can hear Eric and me wailing away.” (For more on these sessions, check out our Bobby Whitlock interview)

This has been covered by Olivia Newton-John and the surf band The Ventures. A version by Shawn Mullins appeared on the Big Daddy soundtrack.

In the UK, this was released as the B-side to “My Sweet Lord.” In the US, it was released as its own single, with “Apple Scruffs” as the B-side.

What Is Life

What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you anytime of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What I know, I can do
If I give my love now to everyone like you
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
Oh tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

Oh tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me who am I without you by my side

My Favorite Guitarists

Here are some of my favorite guitarists. Being fast is not something I care about… I’ve always liked guitarists who play with feel more than finger tapping.

 

Roger McGuinn, Byrds – He will not rip off lightning licks but he plays the Rickenbacker 12 string like no one else. I like the tone and his understated style.

Image result for roger mcguinn playing guitar byrds

Neil Young – This may seem like an odd choice but when Neil plays the electric guitar…anything that can happen will. He plays by feel and feedback and God bless him for that.

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Brian May, Queen– You can hum his solos. One of the most melodic lead guitar players I’ve ever heard.

Image result for brian may playing guitar young

Pete Townsend, Who – The king of the power chord. Pete does not have blinding speed but every note he plays is for a purpose.

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Keith Richards, Stones – The Human Riff… When Keith found G tuning the Stones sound changed forever and it may have been the key to their longevity.

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George Harrison, Beatles – After the Beatles, he reinvented himself into a great slide guitar player. Guitar players are still trying to find that tone. He had a great touch and taste in whatever he played.

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Buddy Guy – For electric blues and the tone he gets Buddy Guy is the man. Below is a picture of Buddy at the Festival Express playing a great version of Money.

Image result for buddy guy festival express

Jimi Hendrix – Like Keith Moon…many musicians have tried to copy him but none have. It is controlled chaos but I like it.

Image result for jimi hendrix 1970

Chuck Berry – Rock and roll owes a lot to him…he has been copied more than anyone.

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Scotty Moore, Elvis – The guitar player backing Elvis on his great 50s hits. Keith Richards said of Moore… Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty.

Image result for scotty moore 1955

Also

Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Lindsey Buckingham, BB King, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmie Nicol – The Fill-In Beatle

You would think this would be a dream come true…but having sudden fame thrown on you without acclimating could be a bad thing.

In June of 1964, Ringo Starr collapsed with tonsillitis with a tour coming up. Ringo had to go to the hospital. The Beatles wanted to cancel the tour rather than go out without their drummer. Brian Epstein and George Martin did not want the momentum they help create to stop and disappoint all of the fans.

George Harrison said it would not be the Beatles without Ringo. As Brian and George Martin tried to reason with them all, George Harrison said that they would have to find two replacements because he would not go without Ringo.

Epstein and Martin pleaded with them and told them about all the fans they would disappoint. It would only be until Ringo was well again.

Someone actually brought up Pete Best’s name. John Lennon said no because that would be bad for him because he would think he was back in the band. George Martin looked up drummers and finally found Jimmie Nicol. He was the drummer for an unknown group called The Shubdubs and also did some studio work. Martin thought he was a good fit so they rang him up.

Jimmie came over to Abbeyroad for the rehearsal. He had played Beatle songs before so he knew the arrangements. The Beatles were welcoming to Jimmie knowing he was in a tough spot. A little over 20 hours later he as playing his first concert with them in Copenhagen. Denmark. He was given the Beatle haircut and he even wore Ringo’s suit. He as reportedly paid 2500 a show…which was a huge amount in 1964.

Sudden fame can be a hard thing to handle. Jimmie said that before he played with the Beatles no girls were interested in him but while he was with them that girls were everywhere. Supposedly Jimmie and John spent a night in a brothel.

Jimmie played eight shows altogether with The Beatles and thirteen days altogether with them… before arriving in Melbourne. Austrailia where Ringo was well enough to play again. During his time with The Beatles, he did help inspire a song 3 years later. Every time John and Paul asked him how he was doing he would always answer “Getting Better.” Paul thought of this in 1967 while walking his dog and ended up with John writing “Getting Better” for Sgt Pepper.

After it was over he declared bankruptcy in 1965 but he eventually joined a band that had some success called The Spotnicks and they did two world tours. He eventually moved to Mexico and then got out of music. Here are a couple of his quotes.

“The day before I was a Beatle, not one girl would look me over. The day after … they were dying just to get a touch of me. Strange and scary all at once. It’s hard to describe the feeling but I can tell you it can go to your head. I see why so many famous people kill themselves.” 

The last quote is telling of his character.

“After the money ran low, I thought of cashing-in in some way or other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on The Beatles’ toes. They had been damn good for me and to me.”

The Beatles with Jimmie

 

Two sites where I got info

https://www.beatlesbible.com/people/jimmie-nicol/2/

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/meet-jimmy-nicol-the-forgotten-beatle-standin-drummer-for-ringo/news-story/0f79dd8eda8adc579d3c35c6bfb32f1f

jimmie over.jpg

jimmie.jpg

beatles with Jimmie.jpg

I had to add this quote…

 “I thought I could drink and lay women with the best of them until I caught up with these guys.”