I am borrowing this idea from Larry Graves. George is my favorite Beatle and for most of his years in the Beatles, his songs had to fight to be heard. Starting on The White Album, his songwriting had advanced to rival Paul and John.
I don’t “love” everything George wrote, but I appreciate all of his work. He may have stretched and grown the most of the Beatles. He had good mentors (John & Paul) and a marvelous producer (George Martin) to guiding him. Here are his twenty-two songs ranked.
22. “Piggies” – (The White Album) I never cared for the song. Okay, it is satirical song with a classical arrangement. Next.
21. “The Inner Light” – This was sort of a warm-up for “Within You Without You.” Interesting song, but not much there. Paul thought it was a lovely melody. Not an album track, released as the B-side of “Lady Madonna.”
20. “You Like Me Too Much” – George mastering the typical John/Paul boy-girl song. Nothing wrong with it, just very average.
19. “Savory Truffle” – (The White Album) It feels like a throwaway song. It has a nice, crunchy groove, but it’s as nutritious as cotton candy.
18. “Love to You” – (Revolver) My least favorite of the songs George contributed to Revolver. It is a very well-produced song that accentuates George’s singing and the melody. This was another critical step on his way to “Within You Without You.”
17. “For You Blue” – (Let It Be) George was getting into other styles of music and he was influenced by Eric Clapton and American musicians. He had picked up the slide guitar style of playing, but it was John Lennon who was playing the slide on this song. Why, was John playing slide? No idea, except they were playing live in the studio and George was the only one who knew the song and the groove he hand in mind, that left John to play lead.
16. “Blue Jay Way” – (Magical Mystery Tour) George’s contribution to the what would be the soundtrack to their TV film. The song is a psychedelic, eerie song played on the organ by Harrison. It was about the street in L.A. he had been staying.
15. “I Want to Tell You” – (Revolver) An overlooked song on the album. It might sound better than it is, George Martin had a way of hiding weakness and emphasizing the strong parts of songs. It has a bouncy beat and great vocal layering.
14. “Only A Northern Song” – (Yellow Submarine Soundtrack) Literally a throwaway. Another song was needed to fill the obligation for the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack. A decent melody, but nonsensical lyrics. Northern Songs was the Beatles publishing company, hence the song’s name.
13. “If I Needed Someone” – (Rubber Soul) George played the Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, which gave the sound a full and bright texture. This is fairly standard love song, but it is full of little beat, chord change and subtle shifts that introduce interesting touches to the song. There is also lovely three-part harmony.
12. “Taxman” – (Revolver) It is a biting commentary on Britain’s taxation policy. It has a nice rock groove, and a lovely guitar solo by Paul.
11. “Don’t Bother Me” – (With the Beatles) George’s first solo song credit. It is a dark, rocking little number on their second album. His voice is double-tracked to thicken it. It is not the material of a hit single, but I really enjoy it.
10. “Old Brown Shoe” – The B-side of “The Ballad of John and Yoko” released in 1969. George utilizes the electric slide guitar, it has a 4/4 beat, but seems much faster, maybe because of Paul’s prominent drumming. Paul played bass and drums, John played piano, and George played guitars and organ. Ringo was filming a movie.
9. “Think For Yourself” – (Rubber Soul) A hard-edged, fuzz bass riff of a song, that functions as the lead guitar. George did not play a lead but rather a rhythm guitar, while John played the organ. It has a very jazzy feel as it moves very quickly.
8. “Something” – (Abbey Road) Yes, shocking that it is this low on my list. It’s a wonderful song, but just overplayed through the years. I do not feel it is his best song, yet I can understand others ranking it higher.
7. “I Need You” – (Help!) Featured in their second film, as they were shown recording in a field (near Stonehenge), protected by British tanks and soldiers. Written by George to his soon to be wife Pattie, it has a distinctive guitar sound as George uses a volume pedal and 12-string guitar. Like John, George used double-tracking of his lead vocal, which was putting two vocals together, but separated enough to sound like two almost exact voices.
6. “Within You Without You” – (Sgt. Pepper) This was a very trippy song at the time, that strange Eastern sound and mystical lyrics. For many, the song is probably dated, filed away with Neru jackets and incents. To me, the song is still fresh and relevant even with the sitars, the music and lyrics are deeply felt and complex in their construction.
5. “It’s All Too Much” – (Yellow Submarine Soundtrack) Written after George’s trip to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Literally, a very trippy song, described as psychedelic or acid rock because of the lyrical references and the long, musical passage. The song clocks in at almost six and a half minutes. George wrote it on an organ and plays it on the song, along with co-lead guitar by John. A bit of trivia, the Beatles produced the sessions themselves due to the absence of George Martin.
4. “Here Comes the Sun” – (Abbey Road) I like this better than “Something” because it is upbeat and rocks. The acoustic guitars, synthesizer and overall arrangement is outstanding. It is a feel good song. The vibe of George writing it in Eric Clapton’s garden is evident.
3. “I Me Mine” – (Let It Be) An interesting song. Written by George about the challenge of dealing with egos, particularly within the group, he brought the song to the Let It Be film sessions. George often complained that his songs were given far less time than those written by John and Paul. George, Paul and Ringo did a number of takes of the song, while John and Yoko danced. When the film was completed, the director included a snippet of the song, so in 1970, George, Paul and Ringo gathered to finish the song. George added several guitars and Paul played piano and organ, and Ringo filled in drums. George Marin added orchestra and the song was essentially rebuilt in the studio. The song is overlooked by a lot of people but it has always soared and seemed very heartfelt by George.
2. “Long Long Long“- (The White Album) Written while the band was in India on their spiritual journey. The lyrics sound like a love song to a woman, but in reality it was a spiritual song. George played several acoustic guitar parts and again, double-tracked his vocals. Paul played bass and the Hammond organ, with Ringo on drums and engineer Chris Thomas on piano. The arrangement is very sparse and airy, emphasizing the gentle and seriousness of the lyrics.
1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – (The White Album) Outside of “Something”, the most written-about song of George’s. Eric Clapton was invited in to play the lead guitar part as George used an acoustic guitar.