George Harrison, often known as the “quiet Beatle,” contributed significantly to the band’s diverse catalog with his distinctive songwriting skills. While he initially took a backseat to the dominant Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo, his contributions began to shine through as early as 1963.
Over time, George Harrison’s songwriting evolved, reflecting his interests in spirituality and Indian music, which he seamlessly blended into the fabric of The Beatles’ sound.
By the late 1960s, Harrison had firmly established himself as a formidable songwriter with tracks on seminal albums such as “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.” His ability to write hit songs like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” stood in testament to his creative maturity and intrinsic part of The Beatles’ enduring legacy.
Key Takeaways on George Harrison Songs For The Beatles
- George Harrison’s songwriting featured alongside Lennon and McCartney’s work, enriching The Beatles’ albums.
- His songwriting evolved to reflect deep spiritual and cultural influences, adding to the band’s innovation.
- Harrison’s legacy includes iconic songs that remain integral to The Beatles’ celebrated history.
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Early Contributions to the Beatles’ Catalogue
George Harrison’s foray into songwriting for the Beatles saw him gradually expanding his influence on the band’s musical direction. His early contributions were marked by a few notable songs that added depth to the Beatles’ albums and showcased his evolving talent.
With the Beatles and Help! Eras
George Harrison penned his first composition for the Beatles on their second studio album, With the Beatles. The song “Don’t Bother Me” was a significant step for Harrison, demonstrating his potential as a songwriter within the group. It was an introspective number that introduced fans to his distinctive musical voice.
By the time the album Help! was released in 1965, Harrison’s songwriting contributions had become more assured. This album featured tracks like “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much”, which showcased his ability to create memorable melodies and convey emotion through music.
Rubber Soul and Revolver Progression
Harrison’s songwriting presence became more pronounced in the Beatles’ subsequent albums, Rubber Soul and Revolver. On Rubber Soul, the song “If I Needed Someone” was influenced by Indian music, reflecting Harrison’s growing interest in diverse musical styles.
Revolver marked a major leap in Harrison’s songwriting with three of his compositions included on the album. “Taxman”, an acerbic commentary on the high levels of progressive tax taken by the British government, became the opening track, highlighting his willingness to address social issues through his music.
Furthermore, “Love You To” was another track on Revolver that delved deeper into Indian music, signaling Harrison’s role as an innovator in the band. Additionally, “I Want to Tell You” dealt with the frustrations of communication barriers. These songs not only showed Harrison’s growth as a songwriter but also the versatility and depth he was bringing to the Beatles’ ever-expanding catalogue.
George Harrison’s Evolution as a Songwriter
George Harrison’s role as a songwriter for The Beatles evolved significantly, with key contributions on albums such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The White Album”. His songwriting showcased an increasing complexity and experimentation with Eastern music influences.
Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
- On this seminal album, Harrison penned “Within You Without You”, a song that merged traditional Indian music with Western pop sensibilities. This track stood out for its philosophical lyrics and use of instruments like the sitar.
The Magical Mystery Tour
- “The Magical Mystery Tour” EP showcased Harrison’s “Blue Jay Way”, a haunting tune with psychedelic overtones. This song demonstrated his interest in innovative recording techniques and complex, layered soundscapes.
The White Album
- George Harrison’s contributions to the “White Album” are significant, including:
- “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, an introspective piece featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar, showcasing Harrison’s depth in songwriting and arrangement.
2. “Piggies”, a satirical take on modern society, reflecting George’s ability to infuse his songs with social commentary.
3. “Long, Long, Long”, a subtle and emotionally resonant song that further exemplifies his maturity as a songwriter and his experimentation with recording techniques.
Through these works, Harrison solidified his reputation as a formidable songwriter whose contributions were integral to the diversity and progression of The Beatles’ sound.
Peak Creativity: Abbey Road and Let It Be
George Harrison’s songwriting prowess was on full display in The Beatles’ final studio albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be. His contributions to these records not only showcased his individual talent but also enriched the band’s evolving sound during this era.
Final Studio Albums
Abbey Road (1969), often celebrated for Harrison’s standout tracks, highlighted his maturation as a songwriter with the inclusion of “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
“Something” is not only recognized for its melodic and lyrical depth but also for receiving praise from John Lennon, who regarded it as one of the best tracks on the album. It represents a landmark in Harrison’s creative development.
On the other hand, “Here Comes the Sun” imbues a sense of optimism through its uplifting melody, serving as a counterpoint to the group’s internal struggles during that period.
Let It Be (1970), which musically chronicles the band’s impending dissolution, still surfaced gems from Harrison such as “For You Blue” and “I Me Mine”. “For You Blue” is a light-hearted blues number, while “I Me Mine” is notable for its introspective lyrics and being the last new track recorded by The Beatles before their split.
The song “Long Long Long”, from the White Album, deserves mention for its haunting beauty and reflective nature, demonstrating Harrison’s versatility and emotional depth that were also present in his later works on these two seminal albums.
Legacy of George Harrison’s Songwriting
George Harrison’s contributions to The Beatles greatly enriched the band’s diverse catalog. While often overshadowed in the songwriting department by the formidable Lennon-McCartney partnership, Harrison’s work both complemented and diversified the musical output of the group.
His first composition for The Beatles, “Don’t Bother Me”, demonstrated early signs of his growing talent as a songwriter, while his writing process evolved significantly as the band progressed.
Notably, Harrison’s songs such as “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” are frequently cited as some of the finest works in the Beatles’ repertoire. “Something,” in particular, showcases the profundity of his songwriting; it received high praise even from his bandmates and became one of the band’s most covered songs.
Harrison’s ability to blend different genres into the band’s music, bringing in elements of Indian music along with his distinctive slide guitar work, marked a significant evolution in their sound. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” stands out as a testament to his introspective writing style and musical innovation, a hallmark of his contributions to the Beatles’ later albums.
His post-Beatles career, marked by the release of the critically acclaimed album All Things Must Pass, further attested to his exceptional songwriting capabilities. George Harrison’s work was not merely a product of his time with the Beatles but continued to grow after the group disbanded.
He revisited his Beatles-era songs with a fresh perspective in Anthology, revealing the depth and layers in his approach to music and lyrics.
The influence of producer George Martin on Harrison’s music cannot be overlooked. Martin’s production techniques and orchestral contributions often complemented Harrison’s experimental leanings, particularly in their later works, enriching the textural complexity of his compositions.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following subsections address some common queries regarding George Harrison’s songwriting and vocal contributions to The Beatles’ storied catalog.
Which tracks are considered George Harrison’s best contributions to The Beatles?
George Harrison’s best contributions to The Beatles include “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” both from the album ‘Abbey Road.’
How many compositions did George Harrison contribute to The Beatles’ discography?
George Harrison contributed 22 compositions to The Beatles’ discography during their time together as a band.
In what Beatles songs can we hear George Harrison as the lead vocalist?
George Harrison was the lead vocalist on tracks like “Don’t Bother Me” and “Chains.”
During the recording of Abbey Road, what songs did George Harrison contribute as a songwriter?
During the recording of Abbey Road, George Harrison contributed “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” as a songwriter.
What was John Lennon’s perspective on the songs George Harrison wrote for The Beatles?
John Lennon viewed George Harrison’s songwriting contributions as significant, especially noting songs like “Something” as George’s best.
Are there any notable songs George Harrison penned specifically for Ringo Starr within The Beatles’ repertoire?
George Harrison wrote “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much,” though he did not pen specific tracks for Ringo Starr to sing as lead within The Beatles’ catalogue.
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)!