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"Something"

(by George Harrison,
February 25th 1969 to August 15th 1969,
EMI Studios, London)





Certainly, maybe George was the 'quiet', inconspicuous Beatle, but also the one with whom one could identify most closely. John was really cool, for sure, but at the end a hen-pecked husband whose music lost its quality by Yoko, Paul certainly was a brilliant musician and songwriter, but a little too brave and honest. Ringo was too unremarkable, although he held the band together by his drum playing more than sufficiently. George, however, seemed to simply do his thing. By the time, he won influence in the group as an elegant corrective, wrote wonderful songs like "Something" and "Love You To", was the first Beatle to make a solo LP (Wonderwall), and thrilled by his precise guitar playing.

Especially because of his awkward seclusion, he appeared most mysterious, and appealed best to the girls that I liked very much at seventeen, and to me as Harrison fan. For me, George was the guy who took the Beatles to India, to the Maharishi for meditation and to the Hare Krishnas. Where else would the most famous men in the world (besides Jesus) go to ....... into an ashram, into a convent, into an inner exile, to Captain Nemo, to Iceland, or on the moon, or in the Himalayas?

On 25 February anno 1969, his 26th birthday, George Harrison recorded three demos at the EMI Studios. He sang and played guitar and piano, only supported by engineer Geoff Emmerick, at least according to David Fricke.

Result of the session: two takes of "Old Brown Shoe" – which the Beatles recorded a little later for a B-side – and "All Things Must Pass", title song of his solo album of 1970. And additionally he recorded the rough version of a ballad, which he had written during the recording of "White Album" last year: "Something".





(Ray Charles "Something" at Youtube)







George Harrison and the other Beatles should be afflicted with this song over the next six months, again and again they returned back to it during the recording of "Abbey Road", changing parts, scraping the arrangements, recorded new parts – until the song was perfect. John Lennon later admitted, he considers "Something" as the best song on "Abbey Road".

In any case, this was the song with whom George Harrison grew both artistically and commercially as pop composers, with whom he finally earned the respect that Lennon and McCartney had denied him for so long – and in some ways even George Martin.

"The song was breathtaking", said George Martin later on "Something", "because I lacked confidence in George. George wrote pretty damn good songs then, and he was in a more difficult position than the other two because he had no inspiring counterpart. This made him a loner. The fact that he really had talent, I realized for the first time in "Here Comes the Sun." But "Something" was once again a completely different dimension ....... and yet so incredibly simple."

On 15th of August, the last recording day, George Harrison stood on the conductor's podium along with George Martin during the string overdubs and performed his new solo , this sparkling mix of dirty slide licks and romantic melting. "He actually played live to the orchestra", Geoff Emmerick recalled.

"He was always nervous when it came to his songs", said George Martin, "because he knew that he wasn't the number one songwriter in the band. He always had to try harder than the others." With "Something", however, the guitarist gave proof – for himself and for the whole world ....... "Sometimes I blame myself because I hadn't devoted more attention to him earlier.", George Martin admits in an interview. "But we must also see that I had to deal with John Lennon and Paul McCartney – who would want to accuse me that I concentrated on them? They probably were the greatest songwriters we've ever had, and provided high-caliber continuously." "But," George Martin adds, " at the end George has done it. Despite all the encouragement and support I have kept from him."





(Paul McCartney "Something" live in Liverpool 2008 bei Youtube)






How this song developed from an idea, I already have elaborately explained in Chapter 4, here follows an estimate from an old Beatles friend, Bill Harry, from the Liverpool days, who tells the following in his George Harrison Encyclopedia:

"Something was the only song by George to be issued as the A side of a Beatles single. The number was recorded during The Beatles White double Album sessions in 1968. George had taped a demo on 25 February 1969 and the Beatlers then recorded it on 16 April. It was recorded again on 2 May with overdubbing on 5,11 and 16 July and 15 August. The song is 2 minutes and 58 seconds in length.
It wasn't used on The Beatles double album but was included on the Abbey Road album and also released as a single in Britain on 31 Oktober 1969. It was the first British single to be taken from an album that had already been released, although it only reached No. 18 in the British charts. It was released as a single in Amerika on 6 Oktober 1969 and reached No. 3 in the all american charts.
Both John Lennon and Paul Mccartney considered it the best track on the Abbey Road album.
Ungenerously, John was to comment in his playboy interview: "Something " was the first time he ever got an A side, because Paul and I always wrote both sides anyway. Not because we were keeping him out, because, simply, his material wasn't up to scratch." That might have been John's point of view, but the Lennon and Mccartney juggling to get their own songs onto the singles and albums did close George out, whatever the quality of his material, as proved by their lack of interest in his classic "While My Guitar Gentley Weeps".

It was Allen Klein who insisted on "Something" being issued as a single. But for his intervention, George may never have had the A side of a Beatles single.
The first line was inspired by a track on James Taylor's first Apple album Something In The Way She Moves. For a time, as a joke, George had oppened with the lines, "Something in the way she moves/attracts me like a Pomegranate."

In his I. Me. Mine. book George said it was " probably the nicest melody line I'ever written". George was to recall, "Something was written on the piano while we were making the White album. I had a break while Paul was doing some oberdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write. That's really all there is to it, exept the middle took some time to sort out. It didn't go on the White album because we'd already finished all the tracks. I gave it to Joe Cocker a year bevor I dit it."

There were over 150 versions of the number recorded within the first decade following its release, making it second only to "Yesterday". Frank Sinatra was to say that "Something" was "the greatest love song of the past fifty years". Sinatra included it in his repertoire, altthough in a number of performances he inaccurately credited it to Lennon & McCartney. Shirley Bassey recorded it in 1976 and her version reached No.4 in the British charts.

George was to say in I. Me.Mine.:
"It's probably got a range of five notes which fits most singers needs best. This I suppose, is my most successful song with over 150 cover versions. My favourite version is the one by James Brown - that was excellent. When i wrote it, in my mind I heard Ray Charles singing it, and he did do it some years later. I like Smokey Robinson's version too."

"Someting also received an ivor Novello Award as best song musically and lyrically".

In 1997, George discussed the inclusion of "Something" on the Beatles Anthology.

"That was a song I wrote back during the White album. There was a moment that I wasn't doing anything while we were making the white album and I wrote it on the piano in Studio One in Abbey Road and it sounded like it was so obvious to me from a piano point of view, the notes, the way they followed on, that I couldn't believe that nobody had ever written that before. You know, as with any song that's really popular, there's a lot of cover versions of it, and I've never counted them up, but there was many versions of that "Something", like Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and James Brown, and not many people know about the James Brown version, but it was a hell of a record, yes it was really good. Then it became pretty tricky to do the bridge and make it all work and musically for it all to get back out of the bridge. The arrangement took me quite a while to get if finished."






(Joe Cocker "Something" at Youtube)







Soul Shepherd

As I previously have noted, the history of the song is already described by me in the fourth chapter of "Something Forever". Here I just would like to look at the song by the view of the bhakti yoga philosophy. For a love song only is as deep .... as the person from whom it emanates ..... and a love shepherd, turned on by God, certainly would have penetrated into the deepest depths of his soul meadow for his flock, to refresh the community with his song by the cool waters of the Yamuna. In the appendix of his book "Here Comes The Sun", the spiritual and musical path of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene describes the different aspects of loving God very well, which for George always had to include the love for others, being part of the divine whole:

"The song is about Krishna, by the way", George said on several occasions .... apparently, George had different explanations about whom he thought of when he wrote songs. "Creative artists have always had their muses", said Pattie Harrison in August 2004 in an interview with Hello magazine. "I was shy and very young, and when George said to me, Something is also for me, it seemed to be no big deal for me. I had no idea that I thus became a piece of music history myself." In various occasions, George explained the song was "not about Pattie. Everyone says it would be, but that's not true. It was just a song." (Quoted from The Beatles Off The Record by Keith Badman, page 469).

By the ambivalence of the text of "Something" in terms of love, themes are shining through, which have been treated for centuries, if not even thousands of years, in the religious poetry of India. For example in the odes of the poet from the fourteenth century poet Vidyapati, or in the works of Chandidas, a poet of the sixteenth century, in which he sings of the Gopis ... female cowherds from Krishna's village .... for which Krishna was "like no other lover" in their hearts.

The Bhakti tradition describes the love of God as something that takes place in various stages of development, which are called "rasas" – flavours. Rupa Goswami's book Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (Nectar of Devotion) compares the early stage of love of God with sugarcane juice ....... liquid and pure, but easily tarnishable. This early stage is called "Shanta rasa", a peaceful, passive knowledge of the presence of God. Shanti, peace, enjoys great attention in western yoga circles, but for Krishna bhaktas, of course, this is just the beginning of the road which wants to lead them back to God's company.

When stimulated further by a desire to actively demonstrate that love, this peaceful step becomes "dasya rasa," service. Rupa Goswami compare this sensation with thickened sugar cane juice, boiled into syrup . This services includes higher and lower levels. But if these differences disappear, love between equals arises, "Sakya rasa," the taste of friendship, which is compared with syrup thickened to molasses. When friends deal with each other, they deal straightforward with each other.

A more developed love for God discards such ease and reaches the stage of "Vatsalya rasa", parental love and affection. If the love of God has reached its highest and most intense stage and severity, parental sense of duty is disappering increasingly. What remains is an unconditional, totally ecstatic love that does not care about social conventions: "Madhura rasa", the conjugal affection. Krishna's girlfriends, the female cowherds of Vrindavan, are representative of this highest level of love, which is compared with sugar candy!"



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