John Lennon Got ‘Very Angry’ While Recording ‘Norwegian Wood’ With George Harrison

George Harrison played the sitar on “Norwegian Wood.” His struggles to master the instrument stoked John Lennon’s ire.

John Lennon worked closely with George Harrison on “Norwegian Wood.” While Lennon had limited interest in working on his bandmates’ songs, he was protective over his own work. Therefore, he grew frustrated as he and Harrison struggled to get the song right. He admitted that he grew angry while recording the song.

John Lennon found it frustrating to record The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’

In the mid-1960s, Harrison became interested in the sitar. As he learned to play the instrument, Lennon asked him to play it on the song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” While Lennon wanted the sound in the song, they struggled to achieve his vision for it. Lennon grew increasingly upset as they worked their way through it.

“George had just got the sitar and I said, ‘Could you play this piece?’” Lennon told Rolling Stone. “We went through many different sort of versions of the song, it was never right and I was getting very angry about it, it wasn’t coming out like I said.”

Eventually, though, they worked their way through the song. Harrison’s lack of understanding of the instrument was a challenge, but he eventually got it right.

“They said, ‘Well just do it how you want to do it’ and I said, ‘Well I just want to do it like this,’” Lennon recalled. “They let me go and I did the guitar very loudly into the mike and sang it at the same time and then George had the sitar and I asked him could he play the piece that I’d written, you know, dee diddley dee diddley dee, that bit, and he was not sure whether he could play it yet because he hadn’t done much on the sitar but he was willing to have a go, as is his wont, and he learned the bit and dubbed it on after. I think we did it in sections.”

John Lennon didn’t think George Harrison reached his potential in The Beatles

Lennon grew frustrated with Harrison while recording “Norwegian Wood.” Harrison often found himself in this position, as his bandmates underestimated his strengths. Lennon believed that Harrison never reached his full potential with The Beatles.

“I don’t want to assess him,” Lennon said. “George has not done his best work yet. His talents have developed over the years and he was working with two f***ing brilliant songwriters, and he learned a lot from us. I wouldn’t have minded being George, the invisible man, and learning what he learned. Maybe it was hard for him sometimes, because Paul and I are such ego-maniacs, but that’s the game.”

What is the meaning behind John Lennon’s ‘Norwegian Wood’?

Despite the problems they had recording it, “Norwegian Wood” was a success. It was also successful in concealing the meaning behind the lyrics. Lennon wrote the song about having an affair, but he didn’t want his wife to know.

“I was trying to write about an affair without letting me wife know I was writing about an affair, so it was very gobbledegook,” he said. “I was sort of writing from my experiences, girls’ flats, things like that.”

He explained that he was incredibly careful when writing the lyrics because he didn’t want her to sense anything was wrong. Several years after the song, he admitted his infidelity to her.

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