5 of George Harrison’s Favorite Songs by The Beatles

Decades after releasing The Beatles’ sixth album, George Harrison still cherished the songs the band produced on Rubber Soul.

“‘Rubber Soul’ was my favorite album, even at that time,” said Harrison of the band’s 1965 release in an interview during the 1990s. “I think that it was the best one we made; we certainly knew we were making a good album. We did spend a bit more time on it and tried new things.”

Harrison added, “But the most important thing about it was that we were suddenly hearing sounds that we weren’t able to hear before. Also, we were being more influenced by other people’s music and everything was blossoming at that time; including us because we were still growing.”

Rubber Soul receded a bit from the band’s standard rock, and was more of a collective experimentation in sound from the fifth album, Help!, and earlier Beatles offerings. At the time, Harrison was beginning to become immersed in world music and would introduce new instrumentation to the band’s arrangements, including the tambura, 12-string, and slide guitars, along and the sitar, which can be heard on the Rubber Soul track, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” Some subtle, classical Indian beats can also be heard on the Harrison-penned “If I Needed Someone,” a musical love letter to his then-girlfriend Pattie Boyd.

Prior to Rubber Soul, Harrison started sprinkling in some of his own songs around the mostly John Lennon and Paul McCartney-penned Beatles tracks, including his very first credit on one of their albums, “Don’t Bother Me,” off With the Beatles in 1963.

As a songwriter, Harrison’s songs would appear again on the band’s fifth album, Help! with “You Like Me Too Much” and “I Need You,” along with “Taxman,” “Love You To,” and “I Want To Tell You” off Revolver in 1966. Harrison’s other contributions appeared on subsequent Beatles releases, including his The White Album gem “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” off Abbey Road, and more through their 1970 finale Let It Be.

“Songwriting for me, at the time of ‘Rubber Soul,’ was a bit frightening because John and Paul had been writing since they were 3 years old,” said the more reserved Beatle. “It was hard to come in suddenly and write songs. They’d had a lot of practice. They’d written most of their bad songs before we’d even got into the recording studio. I had to come from nowhere and start writing, and have something with at least enough quality to put on the record alongside all the wondrous hits. It was very hard.”

Within their extensive songbook, Harrison’s Beatles offerings also left behind their own wonderment.

Though Harrison had his share of songs within the Beatles catalog, some of his favorite tracks by the band weren’t necessarily ones he penned. “I enjoyed things like ‘Strawberry Fields [Forever],’” said Harrison in a rare interview with Lennon in 1974. “I enjoyed the ones [songs] which were inventive, which were new.”

Some of the other songs that connected with Harrison from The Beatles era included “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” among other classics and deeper cuts.

Here’s a look at five of Harrison’s favorite songs by The Beatles.

1. “This Boy,” Meet the Beatles! (1963)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

An earlier song written by Lennon, “This Boy” was a particularly special one for Harrison. Sung as a three-part harmony by McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison, “This Boy” was released in 1963 as a B-Side to “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

“It was John (Lennon) trying to do Smokey (Robinson),” joked Harrison of the song, which later appeared on Meet the Beatles! the band’s second release in the U.S., which was a reworked version of the With the Beatles album.

The Beatles also performed “This Boy” during their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and it was a song Harrison continued to love long after its release. In a video (see below), Harrison can be seen singing along to ‘This Boy,” while watching The Beatles’ Ed Sullivan performance of the song from years earlier.

“It’s a good song though,” Harrison can be heard saying, “not a bad song.”

2. “Every Little Thing,” Beatles For Sale (1964)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

The McCartney-penned, Lennon-sung “Every Little Thing” was first released on the band’s fourth album, Beatles For Sale.

The Beatles later revisited some of their earlier songs during their Get Back/Let It Be sessions, which offered a little respite from the tensions among the foursome during rehearsals. “I’ll tell you which is a good one,” Harrison is heard saying before strumming right into “Every Little Thing.”

3. “Norwegian Wood,” Rubber Soul (1965)

Predominantly written by Lennon with contributions by McCartney, “Norwegian Wood” is drenched in Harrison’s sitar twangs. At the time, Harrison had just started learning to play the instrument. “I enjoyed ‘Norwegian Wood,’ because I felt where it was coming from,” said Harrison in 1974.

“I picked the sitar up – it was just lying around,” said Harrison. “I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it. It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes and then played the lick. It fitted and it worked.”

All of the sounds coming out of Rubber Soul inspired The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson so much that he went to work on his group’s classic 1966 album, Pet Sounds.

Listen to Harrison’s isolated sitar and 12-string guitar off “Norwegian Wood” below:

4. “In My Life,” Rubber Soul (1965)

In remembrance of past friends and lovers, Lennon began writing “In My Life.” Also on Rubber Soul, the endearing song always stuck to Harrison. He liked it so much that nearly a decade after its release, he put his own, soulful spin (see below) on the track during his 1974 tour around his fifth solo album Dark Horse.

Of the nostalgic song—There are places I’ll remember / All my life though some have changed / Some forever, not for better—Lennon said was his “first real major piece of work” since it was centered more around his own life.

5. “Because” Abbey Road (1969)
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Harrison picked some of his favorites during a promotion for The Beatles’ eleventh album, Abbey Road, including “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” which McCartney wrote about fan Diane Ashley, who was once hanging outside of his home in St. John’s Woods in London and eventually broke in. Harrison called it “a very good song of Paul’s with great lyrics.”

Off Abbey Road, Harrison also praised the McCartney-penned “Golden Slumbers,” as well as Lennon’s more atmospheric “Because,” the final official Lennon-McCartney song.

“Because” was the last song Lennon brought in, and the final one recorded for Abbey Road.

“I think this is possibly my favorite one on the album,” said Harrison of the song. “The lyrics are so simple. The harmony was pretty difficult to sing. We had to really learn it. But I think that’s one of the tunes that will impress most people. It’s really good.”

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