Our third entry in this series is a song that gets better and better and I really wonder what it could have been if they finished it. It is the song Watching Rainbows by The Beatles. Yes, there are still some unreleased gems out there.
Watching Rainbows is recorded on 14 January 1969 during the massive Get Back sessions at Twickenham Studios. It features John Lennon on lead vocal and electric piano, Paul McCartney on lead guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. Bass guitar is absent from the song because Paul McCartney is playing George Harrison’s usual role as lead electric guitar.
Why was George absent? We’ll come to that, let us listen to the song first. Bare in mind that this is just as much a jam-session as a finished song, but we get a glimpse into what it could have been.
Watching Rainbows – The Beatles (1969):
George Harrison quit the band for a brief period starting on January 10th, 1969. At the time, The Beatles were practicing at the film studio, Twickenham, so that their rehearsals could be filmed. After a morning filed with verbal altercations between George and Paul, a quiet George Harrison eventually met up with the group and crew for lunch a bit late. Rather than joining them, he simply stated, “See you ’round the clubs” and disappeared.
The three remaining Beatles went back to the recording room not knowing what to do and unleashed an angry improvisational ruckus with John Lennon sarcastically leading the group to play The Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away.”
Days later, word got back to Harrison that Lennon had mentioned bringing in Eric Clapton as a replacement, which Lennon had probably said as a ploy to get George back rather than a real solution. After a five-hour meeting, Harrison rejoined the group on January 15th, 1969.
..now let’s focus on The Beatles debut album..“Please Please Me” released 50 years ago today!
….they were a group with the luck to meet opportunities, the wit to recognize them, the drive to seize them, and the talent to fullfil them. Please Please Me is the sound of them doing all four.
~Tom Ewing (pitchfork.com)
#1 – I Saw Her Standing There
22 March 1963
11 February 1963,
EMI Studios, London
Rock and roll, pop
Please Please Me is the debut album by the English rock band the Beatles. Parlophone rush-released the album on 22 March 1963 in the United Kingdom to capitalise on the success of singles “Please Please Me” (No. 1 on most lists but only No. 2 on Record Retailer) and “Love Me Do” (No. 17).
Of the album’s fourteen songs, eight were written by Lennon–McCartney (originally credited “McCartney–Lennon”), early evidence of what Rolling Stone later called “[their invention of] the idea of the self-contained rock band, writing their own hits and playing their own instruments”. In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.
…It’s a blueprint of everything the Beatles would ever do, mixing up doo-wop, country, R&B, girl groups, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Tin Pan Alley into their own exuberant sound. John and Paul sang the openhearted originals “Ask Me Why,” “There’s a Place,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Ringo shouted, “All right, George!” in his gender-flipped cover of the Shirelles’ ultrafemme “Boys.” All four Beatles sang and played with total emotional urgency, holding nothing back, knowing their first shot at getting out of Liverpool could have been their last. You can hear John completely blow out his voice in the last track, “Twist and Shout.”
#7 - Please Please Me
In order for the album to contain fourteen songs (the norm for British 12″ vinyl pop albums at that time was to have seven songs on each side, while American albums usually had only five or six songs per side) ten more tracks were needed to add to the four sides of their first two singles recorded and released previously. Therefore, at 10:00 am on Monday, 11 February 1963, the Beatles and George Martin started recording what was essentially their live act in 1963, and finished 585 minutes later (9 hours and 45 minutes). In three sessions that day (each lasting approximately three hours) they produced an authentic representation of the band’s Cavern Club-era sound, as there were very few overdubs and edits. Optimistically, only two sessions were originally booked by Martin—the evening session was added later.
The day ended with a cover of “Twist and Shout”, which had to be recorded last because John Lennon had a particularly bad cold and Martin feared the throat-shredding vocal would ruin Lennon’s voice for the day. This performance, captured on the first take, prompted Martin to say: “I don’t know how they do it. We’ve been recording all day but the longer we go on the better they get.”
#14 - Twist and Shout
All songs written by McCartney–Lennon, except where noted.
John Lennon – lead vocals, background vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, hand claps
Paul McCartney – lead vocals, background vocals, bass guitar, hand claps
George Harrison – background vocals, lead vocals on “Chains” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, hand claps
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, hand claps, lead vocals on “Boys”
Additional musicians and production
George Martin – producer, mixer, additional arrangements, piano on “Misery”, celesta on “Baby It’s You”
Norman Smith – audio engineer, mixer
Andy White – drums on “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”
Please Please Me hit the top of the UK album charts in May 1963 and remained there for thirty weeks before being replaced by With The Beatles. This was surprising because the UK album charts at the time tended to be dominated by film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists.
In 2012, Please Please Me was voted 39th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. It was ranked first among the Beatles’ early albums, and sixth of all of the Beatles’ albums, with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver,Rubber Soul, The Beatles (The White Album) and Abbey Road ranked higher.
Rolling Stone also placed two songs from the album on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: No. 139, “I Saw Her Standing There”, and No. 184, “Please Please Me”.
According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, “Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh”, the covers are “impressive” and the originals “astonishing“.
He was a giant, a great, great soul, with all the humanity, all the wit and humor, all the wisdom, the spirituality, the common sense of a man and compassion for people. He inspired love and had the strength of a hundred men. He was like the sun, the flowers and the moon and we shall miss him enormously. The world is a profoundly emptier place without him.
- Bob Dylan (George Harrison’s Obituary, Nov 2001)
“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
― George Harrison
“The Beatles saved the world from boredom.”
― George Harrison
Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne induct George Harrison Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2004:
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Concert For Bangladesh):
Also known as
25 February 1943
29 November 2001 (aged 58)
Los Angeles, California, US
Rock, pop, world music,experimental
Musician, singer-songwriter, record and film producer
Vocals, guitar, sitar, ukulele,synthesizer, bass
Parlophone, Capitol, Swan,Apple, Vee-Jay, Dark Horse, Gnome
The Quarrymen, The Beatles,Traveling Wilburys, Dhani Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Delaney & Bonnie, Bob Dylan, Plastic Ono Band, Splinter
George HarrisonMBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English musician, singer and songwriter who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as the “quiet Beatle”, Harrison over time became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism, introducing it to the other Beatles, as well as to their Western audience. Following the band’s break-up, enjoyed a successful solo career, and in 1988 he co-founded the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Harrison number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
My Sweet Lord:
Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote most of the Beatles’ songs, the band’s albums generally included at least one Harrison composition. His later songs with the Beatles include “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Something”, and “Here Comes the Sun”. By the time of the band’s break-up, Harrison had accumulated a backlog of compositions, which he recorded and released as the triple album All Things Must Pass (1970), from which two hit singles originated: a double A-side single, “My Sweet Lord”/”Isn’t It a Pity”, and “What Is Life”. Later in his career, he wrote two hit singles for former Beatle Ringo Starr, as well as songs for the Traveling Wilburys. With Ravi Shankar, Harrison organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, widely regarded as the first major benefit concert. Among his many accomplishments, Harrison also worked as a session musician and as a record and film producer, co-founding the production company HandMade Films in 1978.
Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care:
Harrison married twice, first to model Pattie Boyd from 1966 to 1977, and from 1978 until his death to record company secretary Olivia Trinidad Arias, with whom he had one son, Dhani Harrison. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Harrison became closely tied to the Hare Krishna movement, and in many interviews he spoke on the subject of his mystical beliefs. He was a close friend of Eric Clapton, and is the only Beatle to have published an autobiography—I, Me, Mine (1980). Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001.
No George Harrison on spotify.. So album of the day is:
The Stanley Brothers – The Complete Columbia Recordings (1996):
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