George Harrison Said ‘Soft Touch’ Eventually Became an Ode to His Son, but That’s Not the Only Song He Wrote for Dhani

George Harrison wrote many songs about the special things in his life, including his wife and son.

The former Beatle began dating Olivia Arias in the mid-1970s, following his separation from his first wife, Pattie Boyd. In 1977, the same year George officially divorced Boyd, Olivia became pregnant with the couple’s only son, Dhani. He was born in 1978, a month before his parents tied the knot.

George and Olivia took a vacation to the Virgin Islands two years before Dhani was born. He had a burst of creativity while away and began a significant songwriting session. Some of the songs he penned on that holiday later appeared on his 1976 album, Thirty Three & ⅓.

However, one song didn’t appear on the album, a song called “Soft Touch.” It appeared on 1979’s George Harrison, a year after Dhani’s birth. By then, George had made it about his son.

George Harrison with his wife, Olivia, and their son, Dhani, in Paris, 1988.
George Harrison, his wife, Olivia, and their son, Dhani | GARCIA/Getty Images

The former Beatle on becoming a father

During a 1979 interview with Rolling Stone, George spoke about what it was like remarrying and becoming a parent. He said both significantly changed his life.

“Yeah, that’s been a wonderful thing for me,” George said. “Everybody who has a baby thinks their child is wonderful, and it is. I’m enjoying it a lot.”

However, according to former Apple employee and friend Chris O’Dell, George wasn’t exactly changed by the experience of parenthood.

“Having a son was good for him,” O’Dell said (per George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door by Graeme Thomson). “But I don’t know that it changed him that much. I think he stayed pretty much the same.”

George wasn’t the best at expressing his feelings for anyone, except maybe God. He found it easier to do it through song. Whatever George felt about parenthood, he loved his son and showed him through music.

George Harrison said his song ‘Soft Touch’ eventually became an ode to his baby son, Dhani

In 1992, George told Timothy White (per Goldmine) that his song “Soft Touch” eventually became an ode to his baby son, Dhani. However, when he first began writing it in the Virgin Islands, he based it on something his friend and collaborator, Jim Keltner, called him.

“[‘Soft Touch’] actually came from a remark Jim Keltner made in one of his lighter moods about me being a soft touch,” George told White. “I had Dark Horse Records at the time, and people think that you’re a bank and come to you for money. By the end of the song, though, I’d changed some of the words so that it became more about my baby boy.”

In his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine, George wrote that the song’s melody came about when he started playing the horn line of “Run of the Mill” on the guitar.

He said the lyrics initially reflected what was happening around them in the Virgin Islands, “the wind, the cool breeze blowing, the palm trees, the new moon rising….” Although there is the use of baby in the lyrics as well.

He sings, “You’re a soft touch baby like a snowflake falling/ My whole heart is melting/ As a warm sun rises into joy I’m sailing/ To your soft touch baby/ Eyes that shine from depths of your soul/ Fixed by their charm, take my control/ Love so sweet as the ocean is wide/ Caught by your waves and drawn to your side.”

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According to Olivia, George also wrote ‘Unknown Delight’ about his son, Dhani

“Soft Touch” isn’t the only song George wrote for his son. According to his wife, Olivia, he also wrote “Unknown Delight” for Dhani.

During an interview with NPR, Olivia said, “There’s a song he wrote about our son when he was born that I really love, and it’s become a favorite. It’s called ‘Unknown Delight’ and it’s on the ‘Gone Troppo’ album.”

“He was saying, ‘What should I write about? What should I write a song about?’ I said, ‘Write a song about Dhani.’ And he wrote this beautiful song which was very prescient actually,” Olivia added on Dark Horse Radio in 2018 (per Harrison Archive).

George loved showing his love through song. Dhani must feel special having two songs written about him. Those songs will live on forever.