George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles, made significant contributions to the band’s vast catalog of iconic songs. Although he often played second fiddle to the prolific songwriting duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison’s talents as a guitarist, singer, and composer were essential to the overall sound and success of the group.
His unique approach to songwriting and his exploration of different genres, including Indian classical music, helped to create a distinctive style that resonated with fans and critics alike.
In the early years of The Beatles, Harrison sang lead vocals on a few songs, showcasing his vocal abilities and artistic versatility. As the band evolved, his contributions grew more significant, with revolutionary tracks that expanded the boundaries of rock music.
While it’s true that Lennon and McCartney wrote the majority of The Beatles’ hits, Harrison’s songs hold a special place in the hearts of many fans and are viewed as some of the most beloved tracks from their discography.
Key Takeaways on What Songs Did George Harrison Sing Lead On?
- George Harrison sang lead on several Beatles songs, highlighting his versatile talents
- His approach to songwriting helped shape the band’s iconic sound and influenced other musicians
- The exploration of different genres, including Indian classical music, set Harrison’s work apart from his bandmates
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Early Contributions to Beatles Songs
In the early days of The Beatles, George Harrison was already showcasing his talent as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter.
His first lead vocal contribution in a Beatles album came on their second record, With The Beatles. Harrison sang the lead vocals for the song “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” which was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Harrison’s first self-penned song, “Don’t Bother Me,” appeared on the same album. This marked the beginning of his songwriting contributions to the band’s extensive catalog.
Over time, Harrison would continue to write and sing lead vocals on various tracks, further solidifying his place as an essential member of The Beatles.
As the band’s music evolved, George Harrison’s songwriting matured along with it. On their 1965 album, “Help!”, Harrison contributed two songs, “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much,” showcasing his growth as a songwriter and his ability to create catchy melodies. Both songs showcase Harrison’s distinct style and musical sensibilities.
Another notable song written and sung by Harrison is “If I Needed Someone,” which appeared on the 1965 album “Rubber Soul.” This track is often considered one of Harrison’s best early compositions, with a memorable guitar riff and thoughtfully crafted lyrics.
Throughout his time with The Beatles, George Harrison continued to develop his songwriting skills and contribute meaningful tracks to the band’s repertoire.
As the group’s dynamic shifted and their music became more experimental, Harrison’s unique songwriting style and lead vocals would play a crucial role in shaping some of The Beatles’ most iconic songs.
Revolutionary Songwriting for Beatles
George Harrison’s songwriting contributions to the Beatles significantly impacted the band’s sound and the evolution of music. As the lead guitarist, Harrison sang lead vocals on several iconic Beatles songs.
His songwriting skills not only brought a fresh perspective to the band’s music but also showcased his ability to experiment with various genres.
For instance, his adoption of Indian classical music elements led to the creation of songs like Love You To and Within You Without You, adding a unique dimension to the Beatles’ musical repertoire.
Though initially overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney, Harrison’s artistic growth as a songwriter became evident with each album. His compositions eventually earned recognition and acclaim for their depth, complexity, and thoughtfulness.
These attributes are on full display in tracks such as Something, which Frank Sinatra called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years,” highlighting Harrison’s undeniable talent.
George Harrison’s revolutionary songwriting and lead vocals on some of the Beatles’ most iconic tracks significantly contributed to the band’s enduring legacy.
The innovative styles he introduced and the timeless appeal of his compositions further solidified his place in music history as a seminal artist and an integral part of the Beatles’ story.
Collaboration and Inspiration
George Harrison’s musical journey was often enriched by his collaborations and inspirations drawn from various artists, including fellow Beatles members and renowned musicians like Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, James Taylor, and others.
One of the notable collaborations involved Cream, a British rock band, during the creation of their song ‘Badge’. George Harrison’s contribution to the song added a touch of mystery and made it memorable.
Further, Harrison’s friendship with Eric Clapton led to numerous musical exchanges, both within and outside the Beatles, such as Clapton’s guitar work on Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the creation of Harrison’s soundtrack album “Wonderwall Music”.
Harrison’s relationship with Indian Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar significantly shaped his music and his life. This impact is evident in the Beatles’ song “Within You Without You,” showcasing Indian musical elements.
Moreover, Harrison collaborated with famous American musician Bob Dylan in various projects, including the supergroup Traveling Wilburys, further broadening his musical horizon.
Remarkably, some of Harrison’s solo compositions received recognition from legendary artists like Frank Sinatra, who once praised “Something” as the greatest love song ever written. The admiration for Harrison’s work extended to James Taylor, who fondly remembered working with Harrison and the other Beatles during his early career.
Interestingly, George’s personal life also inspired his music. Pattie Boyd, his first wife, served as the inspiration for many of his compositions like “Something” and “Isn’t It a Pity.”
Harrison’s connections with his fellow Beatles members, particularly John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney, significantly influenced his songwriting within the band. The unity within the group led to the creation of some of their most iconic songs, such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Taxman.”
Exploration of Indian Classical Music
George Harrison, a member of the Beatles, played a significant role in introducing Indian classical music to Western audiences. He was captivated by the sitar, an Indian instrument, which he first encountered on the set of a Beatles cover tribute. This marked the beginning of his lifelong fascination with Indian music and culture.
Harrison’s interest in Indian classical music deepened after meeting Ravi Shankar, a renowned sitar maestro. Under Shankar’s guidance, Harrison started learning the sitar and incorporating it into the Beatles’ music.
One of the first examples of this can be heard in the song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” from the 1965 album Rubber Soul.
In 1966, the Beatles released “Love You To” on their album Revolver, a song written and sung by Harrison that prominently features Indian classical instruments like the sitar and tabla. This song is considered the first Beatles’ track to fully embrace Indian musical influences, breaking boundaries and ushering in a new wave of experimentation in rock music.
The Beatles’ connection with Indian classical music and spirituality became even stronger when they travelled to Rishikesh, India, in 1968.
There they attended a meditation course led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an experience that greatly impacted their music, particularly evident in tracks such as “Within You Without You” and “The Inner Light.”
During his career, Harrison continued exploring Indian classical music in various projects, including solo albums and collaborations with Ravi Shankar. Some of his well-known works that feature Indian classical elements are “The Inner Light,” “Within You Without You,” and “Here Comes the Sun.”
His love and appreciation for Indian music led him to establish HariSongs, an archive of Indian Classical and World music, making the genre more accessible to a global audience.
George Harrison’s passion for Indian classical music, fostered by his collaboration with Ravi Shankar and experiences in Rishikesh, has left an indelible mark on the Beatles’ discography and the wider realm of rock music. His integration of the sitar and tabla into mainstream Western music has inspired numerous artists and left a lasting cultural impact.
Solo Career and Achievements
After the Beatles disbanded, George Harrison embarked on a successful solo career that featured a notable body of work. His first solo album, All Things Must Pass, was released in 1970 and showcased his exceptional songwriting skills.
One of the most famous songs from this album is “My Sweet Lord,” which earned Harrison acclaim for its heartfelt lyrics and blend of musical styles.
As a skilled musician, Harrison was known for his proficiency with slide guitar, incorporating this technique throughout his solo work. Throughout his career, he continued to release successful albums like Living in the Material World in 1973, further solidifying his reputation as a gifted songwriter and guitarist.
Harrison’s music often contained thought-provoking themes and self-aware commentary. For instance, his 1976 song “This Song” addressed the legal controversy surrounding “My Sweet Lord” and its alleged plagiarism of The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.”
In addition to his musical achievements, Harrison played a significant role in organizing the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.
The event was one of the first benefit concerts of its kind and brought together major artists like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton to raise funds and awareness for refugees affected by the Bangladesh Liberation War.
Harrison’s final studio album, Brainwashed, was released posthumously in 2002, after his passing in 2001. It included tracks like “Any Road” and “Marwa Blues,” showcasing his continued creativity and introspective themes right up until the end of his life.
While the section highlights only a few aspects of George Harrison’s solo career and accomplishments, his legacy endures as a versatile musician, innovative songwriter, and compassionate humanitarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some notable Beatles songs with George Harrison as the lead vocalist?
George Harrison sang lead vocals on several iconic Beatles songs, including “Something” and “Chains,” the latter of which is a cover originally by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.
Which George Harrison sung tracks are considered his best with the Beatles?
Many fans and critics consider “Something” to be one of Harrison’s best vocal performances as a member of the Beatles. It was the first song written by him to be classified as an A-side, and it topped the US charts while he was in the band as the lead vocalist.
What are some lesser-known Beatles tracks with George Harrison as lead vocalist?
In addition to the more famous songs, there are several lesser-known tracks where George Harrison took on lead vocal duties. Examples include songs such as “I Want to Tell You” and “If I Needed Someone.”
On which Beatles albums did George Harrison sing lead vocals?
George Harrison sang lead vocals on a variety of Beatles albums throughout their career. He contributed songs to albums such as “Please Please Me,” “Revolver,” “Abbey Road,” and several others. Harrison’s contributions are a testament to his talent and versatility as a vocalist and songwriter.
What was George Harrison’s contribution as a lead singer to the Beatles’ discography?
As the lead guitarist, George Harrison contributed significantly to the Beatles’ discography, providing lead vocals to numerous tracks. His unique voice and songwriting abilities added a distinct flavor to many of their albums and helped solidify the Beatles’ legacy as an innovative and influential rock band.
How did George Harrison’s lead singing evolve throughout the Beatles’ career?
Throughout the Beatles’ career, George Harrison’s lead singing evolved and matured. Initially stepping in as a supporting vocalist on covers like “Chains,” he later developed his songwriting abilities and contributed original compositions like “Something,” showcasing his growth as both a singer and a songwriter.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!