The meaning of “When We Was Fab” according to George Harrison

After “Gone Troppo” released in 1982, George Harrison spent five years without making a new studio album and he finally came back with the praised “Cloud Nine” in 1987. Co-produced by ELO’s Jeff Lynne the album had many successful hits and one of them was “When We Was Fab”, which was a direct reference to his past in The Beatles.

When promoting the album Harrison explained in interviews what was his inspiration to write that song.

The meaning of “When We Was Fab” according to George Harrison
In an interview with Rona Elliott on the Today Show (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) back in 1987, Harrison described the track as a “nostalgic tune” and said that “Fab” was an expression they used to say when they were young kids in Liverpool.

“There’s a lot of Rock and Roll in it (the album). I’ve decided to write a sort of nostalgic tune called ‘When We Was Fab’. That’s got Ringo (Starr) and all those reminiscent sounds from the 60s. This thing sort of got put on us, like ‘Fab’, maybe we used to say it, you know.”

He continued:
“As kids in Liverpool it was an expression: ‘Fab’. It sort of stuck with the Fab, we became the Fab four. It was always like a cute word, like a silly word and I used in that context. But lovingly like when ‘When We Was Fab’, but it was not really just about The Beatles, I think the whole period. Everybody was ‘fab’ in those days,” George Harrison said.

Besides co-producing the album with Harrison, Jeff Lynne also helped with the lyrics of a few songs. “When We Was Fab” was one of those and is credited to both artists. Harrison recorded the vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, sitar and did backing vocals.

Lynne played the bass, keyboards and also recorded backing vocals. Gary Wright was in charge of the piano, Bobby Kok the cello and Ringo Starr played the drums and recorded backing vocals.

The song was a celebration of the good side of The Beatles

As Harrison said in an interview with CBS This Morning (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), The Beatles had many ups and downs. According to him this song was a celebration of the good side of their relationship and the happy moments they shared.

“(The song) was purely to try to invoke the feeling of 1967, 1968. I think in the past, The Beatles, we had great fun. Then we had a great pain and misery together, we had a lot of problems. As everybody knows we went up and down and round.”

“At this stage of my life I can look back on it and really remember the good things about it. That song is really a celebration of the good side of it,” George Harrison said.

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