‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Covered a George Harrison Song Because the Beatle’s Son Asked Him To

TL;DR:

  • “Weird Al” Yankovic performed a song at a concert tribute orchestrated by George Harrison’s son.
  • Yankovic discussed performing at the concert.
  • He sang one of the songs from All Things Must Pass.
George Harrison's son, Dhani Harrison, performing songs on a stage
George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

One of George Harrison‘s songs was meant for a famous singer from the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequently, “Weird Al” Yankovic covered the song. He explained why he put his own spin on one of the quiet Beatle’s tracks.

George Harrison decided ‘What Is Life’ was too poppy for another singer

In his 1980 book I, Me, Mine, George discussed the origin of “What Is Life.” “‘What Is Life’ was written for Billy Preston in 1969,” he recalled. “I wrote it very quickly, 15 minutes or half an hour maybe, on my way to Olympic Studios, London, when I was producing one of his albums.”

George revealed why he didn’t give the song to Preston. “Because of the situation at the session, it seemed too difficult to go in there and say ‘Hey I wrote this catchy pop song’ while Billy was playing his funky stuff,” George wrote. “I did it myself later on All Things Must Pass.”

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‘Weird Al’ Yankovic only covered ‘What Is Life’ at a concert organized by George Harrison’s son

Yankovic covered “What Is Life” for George Fest, a 2014 concert celebrating George’s music. During a 2016 interview with Den of Geek, Yankovic discussed the experience. “I’ve never played ‘What Is Life’ other than at George Fest, but that was a lot of fun,” he recalled. “I’ve always been a huge George Harrison fan and a big Beatles fan. It was a real thrill to be asked to be part of that.”

Yankovic revealed who asked him to perform at George Fest. “Dhani Harrison put it together,” Yankovic said. “He’s a wonderful guy and I think he put together an amazing tribute to his father. Just to be asked to be included in that celebration was an amazing thing for me.”

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How ‘What Is Life’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

The original “What Is Life” reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks.. The track appeared on George’s album All Things Must Pass. The album topped the Billboard 200 for seven of its 41 weeks on the chart, making it the singer’s most successful album in the United States.

According to The Official Charts Company, “What Is Life” did not chart in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, All Things Must Pass became a huge hit there. The album topped the chart for eight weeks, staying on the chart for 32 weeks in total.

“What Is Life” is not one of the quiet Beatle’s most famous songs, but Yankovic helped keep it relevant decades after George wrote it.

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