Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Because of All Their Tears, Their Eyes Can't Hope to See

I have been down the rabbit hole of Beatles' blogs of late, and as a result have spent undue time thinking about all sorts of FabFour related items.   One thing that has really taken me aback is the plethora of George Harrison songs that were rejected by John, Paul, and George Martin for inclusion on Beatles' LPs.  Perhaps the most shocking example is the song presented here today - Isn't It A Pity.   Written in 1966, George proposed it as a track for Revolver according to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, or possibly Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band per EMI engineer Geoff Emerick.  Not only was it rejected at that time, but was put down a second time in 1969 when George brought it up again during the Get Back sessions.   For me that was a stupendously bad decision by John and Paul.  It is one of George's most stunningly beautiful and deep compositions and could have been the best song on the LP that was eventually released as Let It Be.

George had so many pent-up songs in his side bag that when the group finally fell apart, his first solo release was chock full of tasty nuggets and he shot out of the gate ahead of his former band mates during the early solo years.

The version of Isn't It A Pity presented here is the most popular version, which appeared on the B-side of the My Sweet Lord single as well as the album.  There is a quieter reprise version at the end of the studio portion of All Things Must Pass.

The quality of George's songs was definitely on the ascent as the Beatles were coming apart at the seams.  The "what if" game in my head keeps playing through the options.   Clearly John was going to leave from the moment Yoko came on the scene, it was just a matter of time.  But could the other three have soldiered on without him?  I believe that they could have.  George was ready to step up to the plate, so to speak, but the management issues at Apple Corp. and the battle over who should manage it split Paul from the other three and doomed them from continuing as a recording entity.  In the short term it may have been a boon to George's career, but I cannot help but believe that even a few more years of McCartney and Harrison song-filled albums could have left us with even greater treasures.   Alas it was not to be.


Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Man, this post and this song is so exactly right on. Over my lifetime I’ve sincerely spent hundreds of hours daydreaming and meditating on Beatles what-ifs. And of course if the multiverse theory of cosmology turns out to be true, they all actually happened/are happening. :-)

But this prompts me to make my increasingly desperate plea for help in locating a short story or novel (I don’t know which) that involves an alternate universe in which the Beatles did not break up after releasing Let It Be but instead recorded a 14th album that stunned the world and changed history. The story concerns our protagonist, whose name I cannot remember but who is from our universe and unwittingly crosses into another. He notices some oddities as he goes about his day but discounts them until his growing uneasiness is confirmed when, upon visiting a friend, he spies a 14th Beatles studio album lying about the apartment. He picks it up and studies the back cover and sees a great compendium of some of the best post-beatles music on this Beatles LP, along with some titles not known in this universe.

But to your point Mr. P, it was a predominantly George Harrison album, together with some of the best of the rest: I believe Maybe I’m Amazed was the opening track … does this story ring a bell with anyone? I’ve Googled my heart out on this over the years and come up with nothing …

Mister Pleasant said...

That is an amazing story, Mr. Anyway. I just finished watching all five seasons of "Fringe" and was blown away by the alternate universe story line. I did some Googling myself, and found the following in the internet archive (the actual site is no longer available):


I doubt this is the same story, but it seems to follow a similar path.

As for possibility of Paul, George, and Ringo soldiering on, I know it is a pipe dream because on more than one occasion George said he would never play in a band with Paul again. But then again he took part in the Anthology Threetles reworking of two unfinished songs by John. That's as close as we are ever going to get.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Ah, let me begin by saying I've never felt more senile, but though you're right it is the same path, it's not it. The story I (think I) remember reading was a fully developed and lit'ry type story -- and there were no tapes involved & no returning to the home universe ... Damn. So if we can't find the story can we steal it? What if I just dreamed I read it? This is Right and Wrong 101 but I don't know the answer, having slept through that class.

Fringe! I've never seen any of it or even heard of it before but I checked netflix & they have it so I'm on it! Thanks for the tip. You've probably already seen all these but just in case & in a small attempt to repay the favor I will note that the Netflix shows I've only recently discovered but loved are Twin Peaks (seriously) (i mean i knew TP was a thing in the 80s but i missed it all & now I can say that all the hype was warranted); Walking Dead (if you think you hate zombie shows you're wrong! Season 1 at least is really well written); Lost (i watched ever bleepin' show & was never disappointed -- i don't even get all the hate about the wrap-up); Firefly (watched 'em all; better than Star Wars I say; and i love Star Wars); and ... I'm REALLY late to this party, but Breaking Bad, where I've just started Season 2 and am praying no one is cruel enuf to throw spoilers this way. I had zero interest in watching about a science teacher turned meth dealer until my kids beat me into submission -- and they were right to do so ...