George Harrison was one of the most feted-guitarists of all time. A key component in the artistic evolution of The Beatles, his early contributions fused the rock ‘n’ roll stylings of Chuck Berry, say, with the more country and rockabilly leanings of Chet Atkins.
As the group’s profile explored, the pressure on the Quiet Beatle began to show. Turning inwards, his spiritual quest took him to Eastern teachings, eventually leading the Fab Four to the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
As the band began to tear itself apart, George Harrison lost himself in work, stockpiling classic song after classic song. His album ‘All Things Must Pass’ – an ambitious triple LP – revealed a songwriting talent in full bloom, and remains arguably the best Beatles solo project.
Taken from the album, George Harrison’s song ‘My Sweet Lord’ displays the full flowering of his genius. The supple slide guitar illustrates both his technical prowess and his commitment to the song itself, while structure moves between a clear debt to gospel music and Eastern spiritual teaching.
In a landmark copyright case George Harrison was found to have unconsciously plagiarised the Chiffons’ 1963 hit ‘He’s So Fine’, but in our eyes it remains a key component of his solo mission.
The isolated vocals show how deeply the song resonated with the Beatle. Taken apart from the song itself, the individual vocal shows his fondness for melody, his attachment to meaning, and the purity of George Harrison’s solo mission.
A song that takes on the air of a spiritual chant, ‘My Sweet Lord’ is a plea for pan-religious truth, and mutual respect for the divine. His voice aches as George Harrison sings: “Really want to see you, Lord
/ But it takes so long, my Lord…”
The vocal still sends chills up our spine – you can listen to it below.