Why George Harrison Hated Ray Charles’ Cover of The Beatles’ ‘Something’ But Loved James Brown’s

The Beatles‘ “Something” has been covered by numerous artists, including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and James Brown. During an interview, George Harrison said he was disappointed with Ray Charles’ version of “Something.” The quiet Beatle said Brown’s cover of the song made up for Charles’.

Ray Charles at a piano
Ray Charles | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison liked 1 part of Ray Charles’ cover of The Beatles’ ‘Something’

According to the book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters, George discussed renditions of “Something” in 1979. “Well, there’s quite a few,” he noted. “I’ve been a big fan, for years, of Smokey Robinson. He did ‘Something.'”

George revealed he only enjoyed one part of Charles’ “Something.” “Actually, when I was writing that song, in my mind I was thinking of Ray Charles singing it,” George recalled. “As it happened, the song ended up with over 150 cover versions, but when Ray Charles did it, I was really disappointed, except for the middle, the bridge to it, he sings great. But it was a bit of a corny sort of way he did it.”

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Why George Harrison enjoyed James Brown’s version of the song

George preferred James Brown’s cover of “Something” to Charles’. “But the one that really made up for all of that was James Brown,” the former Beatle said. “James Brown did it in 1972, he redid ‘Think’ as a single, and on the B-side he did ‘Something’ which is fantastic.”

George even purchased a copy of Brown’s “Something.” “I’ve got it on my jukebox at home and I mean it is just unbelievable, the way he sings it,” he revealed. “And the arrangement is really beautiful.” In a 1992 interview, George said he thought Brown’s cover could have been a single.

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“Something” became a huge hit. The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. “Something” spent 16 total weeks on the chart. The Beatles released “Something” on the album Abbey Road. Abbey Road was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks and lasted on the chart for 446 total weeks.

“Something” was popular in the United Kingdom too. The Official Charts Company reports the song hit No. 4 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 12 weeks. It reached No. 84 for a week in 1984. Meanwhile, Abbey Road peaked at No. 1 for 17 weeks and remained on the chart for 97 total weeks.

Charles’ “Something” did not impress George and it didn’t seem to impress listeners either. Billboard and The Official Charts Company reports Charles’ cover didn’t chart in the U.S. or the U.K. Brown’s languishes in obscurity. Regardless, The Beatles’ “Something” became a massive success.

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