George Harrison Didn’t Love Guitars Because They Were Sexual

George Harrison said he didn’t love guitars because they were sexual. Although, his wife, Olivia, said he caressed the curvaceous instrument like it was a woman.

George Harrison performing during his 1974 American tour.
George Harrison | Steve Kagan/Getty Images

George Harrison fell in love with guitars at 10

In Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene writes that in one of George’s earliest memories, he was “standing on a leather stool and singing folk singer Josh White’s ‘One Meatball’ to his family’s great delight.”

George made up silly songs like “I’m a Pink Toothbrush, You’re a Blue Toothbrush” and yodeled along with Hank Williams on “Blue Yodel 94.”

When he came home from school, he put on tunes from Jimmie Rodgers, Big Bill Broonzy, Slim Whitman, and various English music-hall numbers.

George was born to perform. Thankfully, his friend offered to sell him a beginner’s guitar for three pounds, 10 shillings. When he confronted his mother, Louise, she happily gave him the money. After he bought the guitar, George sat up all night practicing, sometimes with frustration. His mother sometimes sat up with him while he practiced and encouraged George to keep going.

Soon, the guitar was all George thought about. In school, he drew the instrument all over his workbooks. Only a couple of years later, John Lennon and Paul McCartney invited him to join The Quarrymen, later one of the biggest rock groups ever, The Beatles.

George didn’t like guitars because they were sexual

During his career, George wrote two songs about guitars, The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and his Extra Texture tune, which served as the former’s sequel, “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying).”

George told Timothy White at Musician Magazine that he didn’t write the songs because he thought the instrument was sexual.

“Concerning my ‘Guitars’ songs, if you’re a guitar player, guitars have a genuine fascination and it’s nice to have songs about them,” George said. “I recently saw a guitar program on TV in England and it got into how it’s phallic and sexual.

“Maybe that’s so. I don’t know in my case, but ever since I was a kid I’ve loved guitar and songs about them, like B.B. King’s ‘Lucille.'”

George added that part of the reason he wrote “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)” was because he wasn’t satisfied with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” He thought the live versions of the song were better than the original recording.

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His wife, Olivia, wrote a poem called ‘Her or Me’ about his love of guitar

In an interview with AARP, George’s widow, Olivia, spoke about her new poem, “Her or Me.” It’s about George’s love of her and his guitars and how they were the same.

On her website, the poem reads, “A silent guitar, sometimes ignored/ Then caressed and strummed/ He fell in love once more/ Round and curvaceous like a woman, you see/ I wondered if he loved her much more than me.”

However, Olivia never felt overshadowed or jealous by her husband’s devotion to his guitars or music. She gave him the tools to write his songs and was in awe of his songwriting.

“‘It’s not a competition,’ George would always say,” Olivia explained. “I have so much respect for artists and the creative process. That gift is all-consuming and holds a place that floats above. You know it’s coming from somewhere they don’t even know.

“I experienced that myself when I was writing this book [her new poetry book, Came the Lightening]. If we were on holiday and George started to write a song, I would immediately hand him a pencil or paper. I was never jealous of it. I was in awe of it.”

George didn’t consider himself the best guitarist, but he deeply loved the instrument. By strumming the neck of a guitar, George connected with God.