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Something, 1969

Lead Vocal: Bobby Cohen

"The greatest love song ever written"                 

          -- Frank Sinatra

The Beatles had spent the last year or so fighting with each other.  The tapes from previous studio sessions, where they were filmed trying to reproduce a more stripped down feel, were abandoned. The abandoned tapes later became the Let It Be album and movie, a new Peter Jackson directed version of which is slated for an Aug 2021 release.

 

But The Beatles persisted, wanting to at least make one last 'statement' album. After about three concentrated months of work at EMI studios - now called Abbey Road Studios after the album made the street world famous - they emerged with an album that set the standard for music production for the next several decades (assistant engineer Alan Parsons would go on to record Dark Side of The Moon, while John Kurlander went on to record the Lord of the Rings movie soundtrack).

 

It did, in fact, turn out to be their last album. And George Harrison wrote "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun,"  the two best songs on it. The Beatles had not two, but three world-class songwriters! Baby brother George had been learning through associ­ation with the Lennon-McCartney duo and his songs were 'getting better all the time.' Yet he had a hard time getting them on Beatles albums. He was so frustrated with his quota of  2 songs per Beatles album that "Something" was first offered to Joe Cocker to sing; it wasn't. even going to be a Beatles song. Fortunately it made it on the album, and John Lennon immediately recognized it as "the best song on the album."

~~~

George Harrison aficionados will recognize many of his signature motifs in this song. The half step walk down which happens not once but multiple times: C -> CMaj7 -> C7 resolving to F in the verse, and Am -> AmMaj7 -> Am7  resolving to D9 in the chorus. The key change from C -> A for the bridge. And, of course, the beautiful guitar solo. The solo was recorded in one take, with George piggybacking on with the string section's track, as The Beatles were out of tracks to record on! The last track was probably stolen by Ringo - the hi hats in the bridge are recorded separately over the main drum part (which comports with Ringo's description of the Abbey road sessions as 'tom-tom madness').

 

I've been playing this song since high school  but had forgotten about it until one recent night in Chicago at the house of classical guitarist Sergio Assad. We ended up playing this song and he improvised a beautiful solo based loosely on George's original. I've resumed playing the song regularly ever since.

 

While George should get all the credit, this song would not be the same without Paul's brilliant counter melody of a bass line, which singlehandedly makes it one of the few Beatles songs that Parthiv will play with me. Paul often saved his best bass lines or harmonies for George songs. "Taxman" on Revolver is a great. example; not only does the bass drive the song, but Paul played the lead guitar solo as well.

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@ Sergio Assad. Chicago, 2019