Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: George Harrison

Old Brown Shoe

First recorded (as a demo) by The Beatles (January 1969).
Also recorded (as a solo demo) by George Harrison (February 1969).
Hit album version by The Beatles (April 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Old Brown Shoe’ was written by George Harrison and would be released by The Beatles as the B-side to ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’. The song was recorded during the sessions for the Abbey Road album, first by the group over a three-day period while participating in a Let It Be film session at Apple Studios in January 1969. Harrison then made a multi-tracked solo demo (featuring only piano and electric guitar) at EMI Studios on 25 February 1969. There is some controversy over whether Harrison played bass on the completed album version, recorded in April 1969. In a two-part Creem interview (published in December 1987 and January 1988), Harrison appears to confirm he played bass on the recording:

‘Creem: You also told me you played bass on ‘Old Brown Shoe’.
George: It’s like a lunatic playing.
Creem: It sounds like McCartney was going nuts again.
George: That was me going nuts. I’m doing exactly what I do on the guitar.'”

Try Some, Buy Some

First recorded by Ronnie Spector (US #77 1971).
Hit album version by George Harrison (1973).

From the wiki: “George Harrison wrote ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ during sessions for All Things Must Pass, his successful 1970 triple album, also co-produced by Phil Spector. The song’s austere melody was influenced by Harrison composing on a keyboard instrument rather than guitar. Ronnie Spector recorded this and other Harrison compositions, such as ‘You’ and ‘When Every Song Is Sung’, in London for a planned comeback album on the Beatles’ Apple Records. The project was co-produced by her husband at the time (Phil Spector) whose temporary withdrawal from music-making in 1966 had forced Ronnie to reluctantly abandon her own career. After the single became only a minor hit in the US, and following recording sessions hampered by Spector’s erratic behavior, the proposed album was cancelled. In 1973, Harrison added his own vocal onto a new mix of the instrumental track and included the result on his album Living in the Material World.”

Something

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday.

“Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

First recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1968).
Also recorded by Kenny Rankin (1976), Jeff Healey (1990), Jake Shimabukuro (2004), Tom Petty & Jeff Lynne (2004).

From the wiki: “Inspiration for the song came to Geroge Harrison when reading the I Ching, which, as Harrison put it, ‘seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else… opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.’ Taking this idea of relativism to his parents’ home in northern England, Harrison committed to write a song based on the first words he saw upon opening a random book. Those words were ‘gently weeps’, and he immediately began writing the song.

My Sweet Lord

First released by Billy Preston (US #93/R&B #23 1970).
Hit version by George Harrison (US #1/UK #1/FRA #1/GER #1 1971 |UK #1 2002).
“He’s So Fine” recorded by The Chiffons (1963), Jody Miller (1971).
“Oh Happy Day” recorded by The Eddie Hawkins Singers (1969).

From the wiki: “‘My Sweet Lord’ was written by George Harrison but originally given to fellow Apple Records artist Billy Preston to record. Harrison produced Preston’s recording and it was first released on Preston’s Encouraging Words album in September 1970.

It Don’t Come Easy

First recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1970).
Hit version by Ringo Starr (US #4/UK #4/CAN #1 1971).

From the wiki: “‘It Don’t Come Easy’ was first taped on February 18, 1970 during the sessions for Ringo Starr’s first solo album Sentimental Journey. Although Ringo is solely credited on the recording as the composer, he told VH1 Storytellers that ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ was co-written with George Harrison.

“With Beatles producer George Martin initially handling production, George Harrison plays acoustic guitar at the sessions and directed the other musicians – Stephen Stills (keyboards), old Beatles friend Klaus Voormann (bass), and Starr (drums) with backing vocalists, Pete Ham and Tom Evans from Badfinger. After the basic track was completed, George added two electric guitar parts and the song was mixed into stereo on February 19. At this point the song was titled ‘You Gotta Pay Your Dues’.

Got My Mind Set on You

Originally recorded (as “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You”) by James Ray (1962).
Hit version by George Harrison (US #1/UK #2/AUS #1 1988).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got My Mind Set on You’ was written by Rudy Clark and originally recorded by James Ray in 1962. Standing just 5′ tall, Ray first recorded as Little Jimmy Ray. He recorded ‘Make Her Mine’ in 1959, but it was unsuccessful and by 1961 Ray was destitute and living on a rooftop, though still performing in clubs.

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