George Harrison – All Those Years Ago

I remember this George Harrison song well in 1981. This song was tribute to John Lennon, who was shot and killed the year before. The song had a bouncy melody and it was originally wrote for Ringo. After Lennon was murdered George re-wrote the lyrics to show is feelings for John.

Ringo did end up playing on the track with Paul and Linda McCartney, and Denny Laine from McCartney’s band Wings. Long time Beatle producer George Martin produced this for Harrison. Geoff Emerick, one of The Beatles sound engineers, also had a hand in this tune.

This appeared on the album Somewhere In England. I bought the single and then the album. The album peaked at #11 in the Billboard Album Charts, #13 in the UK, and #14 in Canada. The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard Album Charts, #13 in the UK, and #3 in Canada in 1981.

Al Kooper: “George was in the kitchen, white as a sheet, real shook up. We all had breakfast. He took calls from Paul and Yoko, which actually seemed to help his spirit, and then we went into the studio and started the day’s work. Ray and I kept George’s wine glass full all day…”

All Those Years Ago

I’m shouting all about love
While they treated you like a dog
When you were the one who had made it so clear
All those years ago

I’m talking all about how to give
They don’t act with much honesty
But you point the way to the truth when you say
All you need is love

Living with good and bad
I always looked up to you
Now we’re left cold and sad
By someone the devil’s best friend
Someone who offended all

We’re living in a bad dream
They’ve forgotten all about mankind
And you were the one they backed up to the wall
All those years ago
You were the one who imagined it all
All those years ago

All those years ago
All those years ago

Deep in the darkest night
I send out a prayer to you
Now in the world of light
Where the spirit free of lies
And all else that we despised

They’ve forgotten all about God
He’s the only reason we exist
Yet you were the one that they said was so weird
All those years ago
You said it all though not many had ears
All those years ago
You had control of our smiles and our tears
All those years ago

All those years ago

All those years ago

All those years ago

America – Sister Golden Hair

I’ve always liked the slide guitar in this song. It has a George Harrison sound to it. The song was on America’s album Hearts. The former Beatle producer George Martin produced this album.

Gerry Beckley wrote “Sister Golden Hair,” America’s second and final number one hit. Beckley has said that Jackson Brown and George Harrison inspired this song.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #11 in Canada, and #26 in New Zealand.

Gerry Beckley: “I very openly tip my hat there to ‘My Sweet Lord,'” “I was such a fan of all the Beatles, but we knew George [Harrison] quite well and I just thought that was such a wonderful intro.”

One interesting thing about the album… Phil Hartman, who was a graphic designer before his star turn in Saturday Night Live, designed the cover to the Hearts album.

 

From Songfacts

America’s first single, “A Horse With No Name,” went to #1 in 1972. That song was written by Dewey Bunnell, who formed the band in 1970 with Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek (the group became a duo when Peek left in 1977).

In 1975, they scored another #1 with “Sister Golden Hair,” another enigmatic track with lots of harmony. It was written and sung by Beckley, who says that it was based on a composite of different girls. When asked if it was written to anyone, Beckley said: “No, this is all poetic license. With ‘Sister Golden Hair,’ as far as my folks were concerned, I was writing a song about my sister, and I couldn’t quite fathom it; they must not have listened to the lyrics.”

“I’d like to point out that you can have a #1 record with a line that enters that darkly,” he said. “That’s kind of my thing: I try to mix these emotions and I think ‘Sister’ was a great example. Pretty good message in there. John Lennon famously said, ‘We don’t know what these songs are about till people tell us.’ So all of our songs, including ‘Horse,’ are open to interpretation. But ‘Sister’ was a relationship song and there is a variety of elements. We always combine them as songwriters so that they’re not verbatim, word for word, for a particular circumstance. Poetic license we call it.”

In our interview with Gerry Beckley, he explained that he made a demo of this song before America recorded their fourth album, Holiday, but he was happy with the songs they chose for that album so “Sister Golden Hair” sat on the shelf for a year, making the cut for their next album, Hearts.

“I can’t really tell you if it was a lack of faith in the song or not, but it was interesting to see,” he said. “It shows you that songs can have a life of their own – they might just need the right time and circumstances to surface.”

This song was used in a bloody scene in the 2001 episode of the TV series The Sopranos, “Another Toothpick.” After a mobster kills two people, the song plays on his car radio as he drives off. When he has trouble breathing and can’t reach his inhaler, he crashes the car and dies, but the song keeps playing.

“Sister Golden Hair” also appears in the movies Cherish (2002), Radio (2003) and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006).

George Martin, who was The Beatles producer, produced this track and the rest of the Hearts album (he started working with America on their previous album, Holiday). It was Martin’s 20th US #1 as a producer, and his first away from The Beatles (by this point, each former Beatle had reached #1 outside of the group). Martin would have three chart-toppers: “Ebony and Ivory,” “Say Say Say” and “Candle In The Wind ’97.”

This was recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California. The engineer on the session was Geoff Emerick, who worked with George Martin on much of The Beatles output.

Beckley played lap steel guitar on this track. He told Songfacts that the musical influence came from George Harrison. “I very openly tip my hat there to ‘My Sweet Lord,'” he said. “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.”

The group recorded a version in Spanish called “Hermana de Cabellos Dorados.” Gerry Beckley doesn’t speak Spanish, so he did it phonetically.

Sister Golden Hair

Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damn depressed
That I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed
I ain’t ready for the altar but I do agree there’s times
When a woman sure can be a friend of mine

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you; can’t you see it in my eyes?
I been one poor correspondent, and I been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind

Will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the air?
Will you love me just a little, just enough to show you care?
Well I tried to fake it, I don’t mind sayin’, I just can’t make it

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you; can’t you see it in my eyes?
Now I been one poor correspondent, and I been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind

Will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the air?
Will you love me just a little, just enough to show you care?
Well I tried to fake it, I don’t mind sayin’, I just can’t make it

Doo wop doo wop …

Paul McCartney – Take It Away

That simple bass guitar riff hooks me when it comes in during the drum intro.

A good pop song from Paul McCartney in the 1980s. This was on an album called Tug of War which peaked at #1 in the Billboard album charts. The highlight to me is another McCartney bass line. The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1982.

Paul played bass, Ringo played drums, and George Martin played electric piano. Eric Stewart from 10cc influenced the layered backup vocals.

Paul McCartney:

“Well, there were a couple of songs that we ended up recording which Ringo asked me to write at a certain period. I was writing some songs for Ringo and “Take It Away” was in amongst those songs. I thought it would suit me better the way it went into the chorus and stuff; I didn’t think it was very Ringo.”

“I mean, the chorus I think, was Ringo, the other bits… but that’s how that comes to be that kind of track I think, I was right in that sort of direction with Ringo in mind actually.”

 

Take It Away

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Lonely driver
Out on the road
With a hundred miles to go
Sole survivor
Carrying the load
Switches on his radio

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

In the audience
Watching the show
With a paper in his hand
(In his hand, in his hand)
Some important impresario
Has a message for the band

Oh
Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

You never know who may be
Listening to you
Never know who may be
Listening to you
You never know who may be
Listening to you
Take it away, take it away

After hours
Late in the bar
By a darkened corner seat
Faded flowers wait in the jar
Till the evening is complete

Ah
Ah
Ah
Ah