Friday, October 31, 2014

Favorite Song Friday: You

The conventional wisdom has it that George Harrison, with his first proper solo album, All Things Must Pass, recorded not only his best LP, but in the view of many, the best solo record by any former Beatle ever. It sounds crazy, the idea of anyone recording an album better than something John Lennon or Paul McCartney could put out—sorry, Ringo; you know I love you—until you actually listen to All Things Must Pass, at which point a coherent, convincing rebuttal becomes significantly harder.

The conventional wisdom has it that George was then more or less tapped out. His next album, Living in the Material World, was good, maybe even very good, but not great, and certainly not the masterpiece All Things Must Pass was. And from then on, more or less, each album got weaker and weaker, some featuring a few good tracks and lots of filler, and a few not even that.

It's not entirely without merit. When Harrison played his one (sadly all too brief) post-Dark Horse tour in the early 90s, the bulk of the set was drawn from his Beatles days, his first solo LP and (unfortunately) his most recent, Cloud 9, with the 7 albums that came in between represented by at most a song each, and in most cases, none at all. Which would seem to indicate George himself had a pretty decent idea of the relative merits of each of his releases.

But then there's this utterly perfect pop gem. Originally written for Ronnie Spector, and recorded for but not released on All Things Must Pass, it sat in a drawer, forgotten, for half a decade before George finished it off for 1975's Extra Texture. Which just.

How could anyone lose track of a song as flawless as this? Its sparse lyrics say all that need be said, which manages to avoid Harrison's tendency to get a tad preachy. And while Phil Spector could undoubtedly have made it sound like, well, a Spectorian grand production, it actually doesn't sound all that much like a Spector song at its base. Instead, it sounds like the perfect missing link between vintage mid-60s Motown and soon to be released smash hit with all-time great bassline "Silly Love Songs," by fellow former fab Paul McCartney.

Although a hit at the time, "You" has been forgotten over the years, which is a shame. (On the other hand, given what a punchline "Silly Love Songs" has become, maybe there are worse fates.)

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