How George Harrison Wanted People to Use His Songs

George Harrison once revealed how he wanted people to use his songs. He wanted them to record their own versions. Plenty of artists have covered George’s songs over the years.

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

George Harrison didn’t want every Beatles song in an advertisement

After The Beatles broke up in 1970, the band fought tremendously. It left the door open for anyone to come in and take what they wanted. Instead of fighting with each other, they should’ve been protecting their catalog.

Since they lost their catalog, they no longer had the choice of how people used their music. Suddenly The Beatles were in advertisements and other things.

During a 1992 interview with Timothy White for Goldmine, George said he and his bandmates agreed that no Beatles song should be in an advertisement. They had to come together and protect their music.

“It’s just that we can’t let every song or every record that was made by The Beatles end up being an ad,” George said. “We can’t really let that happen, because we tried to have some sort of integrity in The Beatles.

“We were asked to do commercials for years, but we never did that kind of stuff, ’cause we wanted us to be what we were. And we tried to keep a decent image of The Beatles.”

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How George Harrison wanted people to use his songs

Interestingly, George revealed that if people wanted to use his songs in advertising or anything else, they had to record their own versions.

“But as to my own songs, I don’t mind if somebody contacts my publishing and says, you know, they always want ‘Here Comes The Sun‘ to advertise orange juice. I consider it and on some cases I would say OK but they have to make their own version of it. But I’m no more protective than that. I just want to keep my catalog of songs controllable.”

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George would be proud of how artists cover his songs

Many artists have covered George’s songs over the years, not just for commercials and other things, and he’d be proud of them.

In 2016, George’s son, Dhani, spoke to NPR about his 2014 charity tribute concert, George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison.

George Fest featured performers like Brian Wilson, Norah Jones (the daughter of George’s best friend, Ravi Shankar), The Flaming Lips, and Cold War Kids. Each artist put their stamp on George’s music. Their new versions “unlocked” some of his father’s music for Dhani.

“You know, I specifically liked Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s version of ‘The Art of Dying,'” Dhani explained. “I didn’t realize that was like grunge until I saw BRMC play it; I was like, ‘Oh. This is a shoegazey grunge song!’ They unlocked that song for me. Or, a thing that was really great was having female vocalists.”

Artists have taken George’s music and made it their own. George would’ve loved it.

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