The Beatles song that George Harrison found old-fashioned

George Harrison

Throughout their supremacy as a band, The Beatles each brought their distinct perspectives and faced individual complications when it came to crafting songs. Furthermore, even as they composed some of the most legendary tunes in music history, each member endured their own spiritual enlightenment. It strongly molded their distinctive approaches to music. During the White Album sessions, George Harrison became much more productive after his trip to Rishikesh. This journey helped him become a better songwriter and guitarist. Especially after dedicating two years to the study of the sitar.

While in Rishikesh, The Beatles dug into Immaterial Meditation, guided by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was George Harrison who first showed interest in meditation and Indian culture. Following that in 1968, Harrison composed ‘Not Guilty’. A song inspired by a web of intricate and conflicting experiences and viewpoints that had arisen between him and his fellow band members: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney.

Starr and McCartney left the ashram early. It was because McCartney wanted to focus on the band’s new business venture at Apple Corps. Meanwhile, Harrison and Lennon stayed on for a while but left suddenly after hearing some unsettling rumors. This incident was significant as it became the final group activity of The Beatles outside of their music, and it contributed to the ongoing disagreements among Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, ultimately leading to the band’s breakup in April 1970.

In his 1980 autobiography, George Harrison said ‘Not Guilty’ was about his experiences with Paul, John, Apple Corps, Rishikesh, and their Indian friends. But in The Beatles’ Anthology, he mentioned that it started as ‘Take 102,’ written after their return from Rishikesh. He recalled, “We recorded it, but we didn’t get it down right or something. Then I forgot all about it until a year ago. When I found this old demo I’d made in the sixties.”

He also said, “The lyrics are a bit passe, all about upsetting ‘Apple carts’ and stuff but it’s a bit about what was happening at the time.” The song presented a glimpse into Harrison’s life during that period. It highlighted the challenges he faced within the band and his quest for spiritual enlightenment. Talking about the lyrics, he added: “‘Not guilty for getting in your way/While you’re trying to steal the day,’. Which was me trying to get a space.”

Harrison’s ‘Not Guilty’ ultimately manifests his unease with his position in the band. And his support for the counterculture of the 1960s. Even with its complex time signatures, the song’s impact is clear. Although Harrison later included it in his self-titled album in 1979, ‘Not Guilty’ remains the purest expression of Harrison’s drive to follow his own creative path, emphasized by the band’s commitment to refine the song through 103 takes.

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