How George Harrison Got Revenge on Paul McCartney While Recording ‘Abbey Road’
While the feud between John Lennon and Paul McCartney preoccupied Beatles fans over the years, no one should undersell the animosity that developed between Paul and George Harrison. By 1969, things had turned ugly between the longtime bandmates.
In the Let It Be documentary, you get a clear picture of the bitterness. During one recording session, Paul’s bossiness overwhelms George to the point where the song stops dead in its tracks. Not long after, George walked out on the band and didn’t return for weeks.
That tension didn’t build up overnight. For years, George endured condescension from both John and Paul. If Paul wasn’t rolling his eyes as George flubbed a guitar solo, John would be complaining about helping George finish a song.
When it came time to record Abbey Road in mid-’69, George was done living in the shadow of the Lennon-McCartney alliance. He’d brought his best songs to the sessions and made sure to stick it to Paul while recording them.
George made a point of nitpicking over Paul’s bass work on ‘Something.’
When the cameras weren’t rolling at Beatles’ recording sessions later in ’69, things were just as tense. During the dates for George’s masterpiece “Something,” engineer Geoff Emerick watched as George needled Paul as McCartney tried out his bass part.
“I couldn’t help but notice that Harrison was actually giving Paul direction on how to play the bass,” Emerick wrote in Here, There and Everywhere. “It was a first in all my years working with The Beatles. George had [previously] never dared tell Paul what to do.”
To Emerick, it was a manifestation of the “grudge” George held against Paul in those days. “It seemed George got some degree of revenge during the recording of ‘Something,'” he wrote.
For George, his days of asking for help on song structure or lyrics were long gone. On The White Album’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” he’d used Eric Clapton to back him in the studio when the others didn’t give him his due. But on Abbey Road, he made sure that everyone knew he was running the show.
George also snapped at Paul while recording ‘Here Comes the Sun.’
Later in the sessions, George brought out “Here Comes the Sun” for the band to record. As he had done throughout the recording of Abbey Road, Paul did his best to engage George and offer suggestions on how the song might be improved.
However, George wasn’t interested in Paul’s ideas, and he wasn’t vague about telling him so. According to Emerick, George had taken an “I don’t give a s**t attitude” by that point in time. Instead of pretending to consider Paul’s idea, George flatly told him the song was great as it stood.
Paul, being the overbearing guy he’d become by then, wouldn’t let it go. So George simply told him he didn’t have to listen to anything he said (and wouldn’t). Paul got the picture from there on out.
Even Paul’s greatest apologists can see that George was right to do so. While it might have come from a place of bitterness, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun” didn’t need anything from anyone else. The George Harrison magic was working quite fine by then.