George Harrison Was Proud of His Slide Guitar Work on a ‘Cloud Nine’ Track

George Harrison was proud of his slide guitar work on “This Is Love” from his 1987 album, Cloud Nine. The former Beatle often turned to his long-time friend and collaborator, Eric Clapton, to add guitar to some of his songs. On “This Is Love,” though, George wanted to stretch his own skills as a slide guitarist this time, and his effort paid off.

However, the song doesn’t contain the best slide guitar work George has ever done, at least according to him.

George Harrison performing at the Prince's Trust Concert in 1987.
George Harrison | Solomon NJie/Getty Images

George Harrison was proud of his slide guitar work on ‘Cloud Nine’s ‘This Is Love’

While recording Cloud Nine, George wrote “This Is Love” with his co-producer and former ELO frontman, Jeff Lynne.

During a 1992 interview for Goldmine, Timothy White pointed out that “This Is Love” has one of the nicest Beatlesque melodies. George replied that the song also has some of his best slide guitar work.

“There’s also a great slide guitar sound on ‘This Is Love,'” he explained. “At one point when our engineer was unavailable for the week, I took the tapes up to Jeff Lynne’s house, where he’s got a little studio in one bedroom.

“I overdubbed the guitar while he did his thing with the radical EQ, and it gave a smooth, subtle wah-wah effect.”

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George also thought he did great slide guitar work on a song he did with Belinda Carlisle

In 1989, The Go-Go’s frontwoman, Belinda Carlisle, got the surprise of a lifetime when George agreed to appear on two songs off her third solo album, Runaway Horses, “Leave a Light On” and “Deep Deep Ocean.”

However, the only thing George remembered about the collaboration was his slide guitar work. In a 1992 interview with Guitar World, George said he did his best slide guitar solo during his collaboration on either of the two songs. He didn’t name which, but Guitar World thinks it’s “Leave a Light On.”

“The best slide solo I ever played was on… what’s her name? That girl singer who used to be with that all-girl band?… Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s! That’s who it was,” George said.

“I played on one of her albums [1989’s Runaway Horses]. One of the slide solos had its own little tune which related to the tune Belinda was singing, but it’s also a little composition in its own right, which I was really pleased with.”

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The former Beatle first started doing slide guitar when he got back into the instrument in the late 1960s

In the mid-1960s, George met sitar legend Ravi Shankar and immediately started taking lessons from him. Indian music took hold of him so much that he mostly left the guitar behind. Later, George later realized he’d never become as good a sitar player as Shankar, so he returned to the guitar.

However, he felt he’d lost touch with it and chose the slide guitar to give him a fresh sound. In 1977, George told Crawdaddy (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), “All the young kids coming up were all playing so good and I hadn’t been involved with it for so long, both being in the Beatles, just playing the same old tunes, and playing Indian music. So I felt a long way behind, that was one reason why I had all the instruments.

“I suddenly realized ‘I don’t like these guitars’ and Eric gave me this Les Paul which really got me back into it because it sounded so funky. That was one of the reasons I started playing slide, you know, because I felt so far behind in playing hot licks. With slide I didn’t have any instruction, I just got one and started playing.”

When George started playing slide guitar, he found his spark again. His new style of playing gave The Beatles something new. It also allowed him to establish a distinct sound that would last for the rest of his career.

Looking at George’s 40+ years in the music industry, it’s hard to choose one song with George’s best slide guitar work. There’s “Cheer Down,” “Cloud Nine,” “This Is Love,” and many, many more. However, we would have never gotten any of those great songs if George hadn’t turned to slide guitar.

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