Meaning Behind “Got My Mind Set on You” by George Harrison

When George Harrison was working on his 11th album Cloud Nine, he decided to close it with a cover of a song he first heard nearly a quarter of a century early.

Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set on You” was written by Rudy Clark and recorded and released by singer James Ray as “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” in 1962. The song followed Ray’s previous hit “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” from a year earlier. Coincidentally, “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” had previously made it into the Beatles’ live set. John Lennon also featured it as one of his favorite songs on his 1960s jukebox, a playlist that was later released as an album in 2004.

Clark died nearly a year after releasing “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” from a drug overdose at 22.

By the time Harrison was working on his own version of the song, he switched the title to “Got My Mind Set on You.” Released in the fall of 1987, the song went straight to No. 1.

The ‘Meaning of’ Love

In the song, the narrator is willing to do anything, spend any amount of money — and more importantly, time — to attract the object of their affection.

But it’s gonna take money
A whole lotta spending money
It’s gonna take plenty of money
To do it right, child

It’s gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It’s gonna take patience and time, mmm
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it
To do it right, child

I got my mind set on you

Throughout the song, they are still convinced that they can capture their true love.

And this time I know it’s for real
The feelings that I feel
I know if I put my mind to it
I know that I really can do it


Harrison first encountered the song nearly 25 years before recording it himself and just a few months before the Beatles would make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

He bought a copy of Ray’s self-titled debut album, featuring “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You,” in 1963. At the time, he and his brother Peter were visiting his sister Louise, who was living in Benton, Illinois.

Video Star

In the more offbeat video for “Got My Mind Set on You,” which was a spoof of the then-recently released comedy horror Evil Dead II, Harrison sits in a chair with his guitar as inanimate objects begin moving on their own around the room. The video made its rounds on MTV and VH1.

An earlier video was also released, featuring actor Alexis Denisof (How I Met Your Mother) trying to win a toy ballerina for a girl at the amusement park arcade, while Harrison, Lynne and the rest of the band can be seen playing through a coin-operated movie viewer, along with a performing ballet dancer.

‘Cloud Nine‘

Peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, Cloud Nine, which was co-produced with Jeff Lynne, was considered a comeback album for Harrison in terms of chart success. His previous top 10 hit came off his ninth album Somewhere in England, released in 1981, with “All Those Years Ago.” Harrison’s previous No. 1 was in 1973 with “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth),” off Living in the Material World.

Of Harrison’s three No. 1 singles (in the U.S.) “Got My Mind Set on You” was the only one he didn’t write. A year after its release, Harrison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Beatles, while the song was still sitting on the charts.

“Got My Mind Set on You” would also be Harrison’s final solo single to chart before his death in 2001. A year after its release, he formed the Traveling Wilburys with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Lynne.

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