‘Something’: The song where George Harrison got “revenge” on Paul McCartney

George Harrison was always the odd one out in The Beatles. He may have been the guitarist who made so many of their instrumental tracks sing, but there was also a subtle resentment between him and John Lennon and Paul McCartney when he couldn’t get his parts to sound right. Harrison would need to come out with the goods if he wanted to run the band, and once he made ‘Something’, he put McCartney in his place.

That kind of subtle resentment goes much further than just the end of The Beatles. While McCartney lovingly called Harrison a little brother figure throughout his life, even being the one to bring him into the fold of the group, it’s probably not the best feeling in the world when one of your best mates seems to make you feel inferior whenever you try to play the guitar.

Even when the band started to make records properly after getting a record deal, McCartney never let Harrison off the hook for anything. While recording classics like ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ and ‘Taxman’, McCartney took over for Harrison half the time, putting on the guitar alone without asking his bandmate what he thought.

As Harrison started developing as a songwriter, he was finally ready to present the songs on the same level as his bandmate. Still, he could barely get a word in half the time, eventually getting pissed off when McCartney decided that Harrison’s lead guitar lines wouldn’t fit in the song ‘Hey Jude’.

After trying to mend the fences on the Get Back project, Harrison stormed out after not being able to take being pushed to the side anymore. While that would result in his future solo hit ‘Wah-Wah’, the songs that he came up with for Abbey Road were far greater than anyone would have expected.

The Beatles had written love songs before, but ‘Something’ was a completely different animal, with Harrison getting down to the purest expression of love ever created. For the first time, Harrison had the power in the studio, and he wasn’t going to let his old buddy get in the way of things.

When working on the track, engineer Geoff Emerick recalled how tense the air was when Harrison began critiquing his bandmate’s bassline, saying in Here There and Everywhere, “It seemed George got some degree of revenge during the recording of ‘Something’… I couldn’t help but notice that Harrison was actually giving Paul direction on how to play the bass. It was a first in all my years working with The Beatles. George had never dared tell Paul what to do.”

Even though McCartney still tried to grandstand as best he could, the bassline he came up with might be one of the greatest of his career. Weaving in and out of the chord changes, the bottom end gives Harrison a lot of room to work with other melodies, culminating in one of the greatest guitar solos that he would ever play.

Still, McCartney’s noodling couldn’t detract from Harrison’s classic. He had finally become a songwriter on Lennon and McCartney’s level, and ‘Something’ was practically a taser for the wealth of material that lay ahead in his solo career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *