George Harrison thought his 1975 album, Extra Texture, was “grubby.” The former Beatle didn’t enjoy his sixth studio album. Granted, the album was not as groundbreaking as his first post-Beatles solo record, All Things Must Pass, nor his second, Living in the Material World.
However, Extra Texture isn’t as gloomy as George thought.
George Harrison thought ‘Extra Texture’ was ‘grubby’
Over the years, George hardly commented on Extra Texture. Although, he did give some insight into what he thought of his album during a 1987 interview with Timothy White at Musician Magazine. George called the album “grubby.”
“The production left a lot to be desired, as did my performance,” George said. “I was in a real down place. Some songs I like, but in retrospect I wasn’t very happy about it. ‘Grey Cloudy Lies’ described clouds of gloom that used to come down on me. A difficulty I had.
“I’ve found over the years that I’m more about to keep them away, and am quite a happy person now.”
George had a lot to be gloomy about during the recording of Extra Texture. For instance, “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)” came about because of the press’ harsh criticism of his 1974 solo tour of America. They bashed George, who chose to perform obscure songs and had a bad case of laryngitis.
With only three post-Beatles solo albums to his name, George was also starting to get sick of the music industry. Plus, his first marriage to Pattie Boyd recently crumbled.
He wrote “World of Stone,” “Grey Cloudy Lies,” and “Can’t Stop Thinking About You” in 1973 and could’ve aimed the latter at Boyd. The period was dark for George. Thankfully, he met his second wife, Olivia, in 1974. In 1979, George told Rolling Stone that he felt like he had almost no voice and no body before meeting her.
Whatever George felt in 1975, though, Extra Texture is anything but gloomy or grubby. It’s soulful.
George is soulful on ‘Extra Texture’
It’s true; Extra Texture is unlike any of George’s other albums. After releasing three albums with mostly rock and folk songs, fans must have been confused when they heard the album. However, it’s not gloomy; it’s soulful.
On George’s website, his widow, Olivia, calls the album “moody.” She wrote, “The songs on Extra Texture are as introspective as any of George’s albums. The first track is what he would call a pop song and the last song is an eccentric homage to Bonzo Dog ‘Legs’ Larry Smith.
“But in between are tracks with strong melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. They are moody and personal and some of my favourites.”
While Bob Dylan and some of George’s rock idols inspired All Things Must Pass, one of George’s other inspirations clearly made him diverge from his typical style, Smokey Robinson. What’s the best kind of music to listen to after a breakup and during an especially grueling time? R&B and soul do the trick. Plus, George positively adored Robinson’s music.
During a press conference in 1974 (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), George said he had a hard time liking popular music but loved Robinson.
“Smokey Robinson, I’m madly in love with Smokey Robinson,” George said.
In a 1975 interview with WNEW-FM’s Dave Herman, George said Robinson’s music made him feel good, not uptight like other music.
“I’m a big fan of Smokey Robinson just because musically he is so sweet, he makes you feel nice, he makes me feel good, whereas a lot of music I listen to, which is popular music, just makes me uptight.”
It’s hard to mistake the Motown influences on “You.” “Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You)” could’ve been a Robinson song. Plus, the album is very keyboard-heavy, making some ballads feel like church songs. Although Extra Texture is void of religious lyrics, spirituality lurks deep down.
The album is spiritual
Since George became spiritual in the mid-1960s, he added religious themes to his songs. There’s The Beatles’ “Within You Without You,” “Long Long Long,” and his solo hits like “My Sweet Lord” and “Awaiting on You All.”
None of the songs on Extra Texture ooze religion, but the album is religious deep down. George believed that one showed their love of God by loving someone wholeheartedly. Most of the songs on Extra Texture are love songs aimed at someone, but maybe they’re about God.
Meanwhile, in “The Answer’s at the End,” George sings, “Life is one long enigma, my friend/ So read on, read on, the answer’s at the end.” He could be singing that one will find the answers they’re looking for when they leave the material world.
George was spiritual in everything he did, so it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have added subtle religious tones and double meanings in Extra Texture. The album was different than anything he ever did, but it wasn’t that different.