For Millennials. By Millennials.
We know that the Beatles breakup brought the best out of George Harrison’s hidden talents. But, it didn’t happen right away. For quite some time, George was ‘really paranoid’ and lost his confidence when it came to his music. And it was because of the power dynamics within the Beatles.
The answer is that his genius songwriting was hidden under paranoia and a lack of confidence. And it was because of the dominance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
How George Harrison lost his confidence
I don’t think any incident better encapsulates the plight of George other than the recording of While My Guitar Gently Weeps from The White Album. George was trying to get John and Paul interested in While My Guitar Gently Weeps. But, the duo wouldn’t budge. So, what George Harrison did later was unheard of in the Beatles – He brought Eric Clapton into the studio to record the guitar solo.
Now, the Beatles didn’t let anyone else enter their recording sessions. No one, not even George Martin, bothered the Beatles while they were recording. So, when George brought in Eric Clapton with him, who was an iconic guitarist even at the time, it raised John and Paul’s eyebrows. But, the sad thing is that it took Clapton for John and Paul to recognize such an iconic song written by George.
And this ignorance of George’s talent didn’t just stop at John and Paul. George Martin didn’t give George Harrison’s songwriting the same attention as he gave to the iconic duo.
However, it was more than just ignored songs. George Harrison never got a fair share of his income as well. Moreover, he barely got a couple of songs in most of their albums too. And that was wasting his musical genius in songwriting and rattled his confidence and made him paranoid.
How it made George ‘really paranoid’ and his lack of confidence continued after the breakup
What’s worse is that his lack of confidence persisted even after the Beatles broke up. George recalls in an interview:
I had a little encouragement from time to time [for songwriting], but it was very little. It was like they were doing me a favor. I didn’t have much confidence in writing songs because of that.
Moreover, George Harrison recalls that he believed his songs weren’t good enough and the whole episode with John and Paul left him ‘really paranoid’:
Having this whole thing with the Beatles had left me really paranoid. I remember having those people in the studio and thinking, ‘God, these songs are so fruity! I can’t think of which song to do.’
But, when he played them to his fellow musicians who helped him record All Things Must Pass, they were left astounded:
They’d say, ‘Wow, yeah! Great song!’ And I’d say, ‘Really? Do you really like it?’
It’s sad how such a generational talent like George Harrison had such a lack of confidence and was paranoid because of his experience at the Beatles. Just imagine how much more he could have written had John and Paul given him his due appreciation. The Beatles could have been an even better band than they became! Imagine that.