Something: How George Harrison's Songwriting Came Into Its Own

2021 Song Draft- Round 4 Pick 5- A Sound Day selects- ‘Something’- The Beatles.

Well, as of Tuesday when I’m writing this, the Song Draft has been great, dished up some deserved classics and some cool surprised. But maybe the biggest surprise is in what hasn’t been here … The Beatles. Rather a surprise for a group of music fans like us whom, collectively if we had to borrow a cliched radio catchphrase, seem to be all about “the hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s!”  So, I figure it’s time to rectify that shortcoming… my pick today is “Something” by The Beatles.

I should point out though that this isn’t because I’m trying to “fix” an ommission from the list so far. It’s here because it’s a flat out great song. The Beatles created a ton of them of course, but in a crunch this one has become my top choice among their discography.

Abbey Road must have taken the diehard Beatles fans back then (1969) by surprise. Not because the band name didn’t show up on the front cover, nor the fact that rumors were swirling around that they might be close to breaking up. But because when they put it on, nothing stood out as much as “Here Comes the Sun””…and this one. Two songs written and sung by George Harrison. This must have been a shock, because let’s face it, until then The Beatles had really been The Lennon & McCartney Show. People knew Ringo was a fun guy and could drum, and George was a better-than-adequate guitarist and sort of coolish, mystical guy. However, few thought he was a real talent as a writer or singer in his own right. This was the LP that changed that. As producer George Martin put it, “I first recognized that he had a really great talent when we did ‘Here Comes the Sun’. But when he brought in ‘Something’, it was something else!”   Others saw it that way too. John would say it was his favorite song on the album, his own notwithstanding. Years later Frank Sinatra would call it the “greatest love song ever written” and sing it himself.

The song must’ve been largely inspired by that rock’n’roll muse, Pattie Boyd, George’s wife at that point (and the subject of Eric Clapton’s love epic, “Layla” a couple of years later on.)  He’s said so at times, and Boyd herself says “he told me as a matter of fact that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful, and it turned out to be the most successful song he ever wrote.”  At times, George would change it up a bit and say he wrote it mainly as a “devotion to the Lord Krishna,” and he summed it up by noting “when you love a woman, it’s the God in them you see.”

Whatever the inspiration, it was successful indeed. It was issued as a “double A-side” single with “Come Together”, the first George one released as an actual Beatles “single.” It went to #1 in the U.S., Canada and Australia. It would win them an Ivor Novello prize for Song of the Year, and be covered over 150 times by different artists, more than any song of theirs except “Yesterday.” 

To me, I grew up just a little young to be part of Beatlemania. But I had a Mom and an older brother who liked them, and seeing that Sgt. Pepper Lp and hear some of its songs are one of my early childhood memories. I was never one to dislike or slag them, but as a kid, wasn’t a huge fan either. They were just there. As I’ve gotten older though, I come to appreciate them more and more and see how incredible their productivity and talent was. No wonder much of the best ’80s and ’90s pop, from Squeeze to XTC to the Smithereens, is termed “Beatle-esque.” If it’s got smart lyrics, is played well and a fantastic melody, it probably owes something to the Fab Four.

It’s a song I never get tired of, a song worthy of being turned up and admired from every angle. From the lovely, relatable lyrics to the subtle but attractive organ notes of the band’s friend Billy Preston, to Ringo’s building and under-stated drums to George’s perfect, passionate voice and sexy little guitar solos, “Something” is indeed…”something else.”


  1. Finally- A Beatles song is selected. I am sure there will be more to come. Great pick- the two best songs on Abbey Road were from Mr. Harrison.

  2. And you didn’t pick Maxwell’s Silver Hammer? lol…. Great song by George and it really opened up people’s eyes about him. Just imagine if he would have saved those two for All Things Must Pass…I’m glad he didn’t because it would not have sounded the same.
    John and Paul knew they had an equal peer after this one. The solo on it also is fantastic…it’s a near perfect song.
    I also have to say this about it…Paul’s bass playing is out of this world on it and it compliments what George was doing. This song is right up his alley.

    • It’s a great one & all 4 (5 with Preston) play really well on it, though I read George thought Paul’s bass was too busy. McC figured it was fair turnaround since he had critiqued George’s guitar on some records.

  3. Nothing to add to what’s already been said except I appreciate your choice.
    Even his comment about the song shows where his head is at:

    “At times, George would change it up a bit and say he wrote it mainly as a ‘devotion to the Lord Krishna,’ and he summed it up by noting ‘when you love a woman, it’s the God in them you see.’ ”

    Wonderful write-up on one of the best love songs ever, by my favorite guru.

  4. A stunning song and a marvelous choice Dave. Like “California Dreamin”, I really think this song is perfect on every level.

    On a side note, it’s interesting that a lot of the Beatles’ footage used in videos that were later produced for their songs is of such high quality – much better than a lot of others from that time period.

    • Thanks! I don’t know when the video was put together but its quite good, isn’t it? Of course that was another area they were ahead of the curve…by 66 they were actually making videos like ‘Paperback Writer’ that would be quite at home with early 80s MTV.

  5. This is a lovely choice, and thanks for making sure The Beatles enter the draft without further delay. I can look back through the draft choices so far, and pick many bands who influenced, or were influenced by, The Beatles. The Fab Four were almost the missing link in the chain…until now. I love ‘Something’ too. I didn’t know George later tried to deflect the inspiration from Boyd to Lord Krishna.

    • Thanks for that…I was surprised no one had picked at least one of theirs so far. It is amazing how much 70s-90s stuff owes a lot to them…not to mention how the competition between them & Brian Wilson improved the Beach Boys

  6. A fantastic song on so many levels! Not every one gets a “nod” from the Chairman of the Board!

    I knew the Beatles would show up eventually. I held back on picking them, not because I wanted to, but because I just don’t know which one to pick! I know I had at least 12 on my initial list of possible draft picks.

    This is truly one of the best love songs. It is simple – yet so deep. Instrumentally, it is a work of art. Everything falls into place and compliments each other. George’s vocal is spot on.

    Definitely the perfect “first” Beatles entry to the draft!

  7. I’m surprised we’ve gotten this far before the Beatles showed up.

    I wasn’t even alive when they stormed the US in 1964. Growing up in my household, there were no Beatles records. My dad couldn’t stand them. He always told me that they had the distinction of (all four) singing harmony, off key.

    I honestly don’t recall when I heard my first Beatles song (oldies stations that showed up in the 1980s?) but, I’ve found that my Beatles tastes are with the early stuff. My personal fave is “I Feel Fine”, followed by “Ticket To Ride.”

  8. Fantastic pick – not only one of George Harrison’s absolute gems but also the Beatles tune with the best bassline Paul McCartney has ever come up with – and there are other great Macca basslines! Coincidentally, I have an upcoming post featuring the very same tune!

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