George Harrison’s favourite covers of The Beatles song ‘Something’

For many years George Harrison’s songs were regarded as unfortunate necessities. His early offerings were included on tracklistings for the sake of diplomacy, but there was always a sense, as John Lennon later put it, that George just “wasn’t in the same league” as he and Paul McCartney. However, by the time The Beatles got around to crafting their 1969 album Abbey Road, that had all changed. Having established himself as a force to be reckoned with on songs like ‘Taxman’, ‘Love You To’ and ‘Within You Without You’, Harrison stepped into a new chapter of creativity, penning some of the finest songs of his career, including the 1969 Abbey Road cut ‘Something’. Here, we revisit the time Harrison named his two favourite renditions of the classic track.

‘Something’ became one of the stand-out tracks from Abbey Road. “I wrote the song ‘Something’ for the album before this one, but I never finished it off until just recently,” Harrison explained in 1969. “I usually get the first few lines of words and music together, both at once and then finish the rest of the melody,” he added. “Then I have to write the words. It’s like another song I wrote when we were in India. I wrote the whole first verse and just said everything I wanted to say, and so now I need to write a couple more verses. I find that much more difficult.”

After seeking the advice of veteran songwriter John Lennon, Harrison was able to complete the song and watch it take over the world. Countless music artists subsequently shared their own renditions, including Frank Sinatra – something Harrison was less than pleased about. “At the time I wasn’t particularly thrilled that Frank Sinatra did ‘Something’,” Harrison wrote in Anthology. “I’m more thrilled now than I was then. I wasn’t really into Frank – he was the generation before me”. Harrison went on to explain that he was far more interested “when Smokey Robinson did it and when James Brown did it. But I’m very pleased now, whoever’s done it. I realise that the sign of a good song is when it has lots of cover versions”.

During a 1988 interview with MuchMusic, Harrison echoed his enthusiasm for Brown and Robinson’s covers of his classic track: “The best one I ever heard was (from) James Brown and he did it in 1972, but he did only as the B-side of a re-recorded version of ‘Think’, which is a very old song of his,” George said. “So it was only on the B-side. I sent him a postcard and said: ‘You should make it the A-side, it’s a killer! It’s really good,” he added.

Smokey Robinson’s version, meanwhile, was mixed with the song ‘Something You Got’ by Chris Kenner and featured on Smokey Robinson and The Miracle’s 1970 album A Pocket Full of Miracles. “I like Smokey Robinson‘s version of ‘Something as well,” Harrison said in that same MuchMusic interview. “I can’t think off hand, of anything else.”

You can listen to James Brown’s and Smokey Robinson’s renditions of ‘Something’ below.

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