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George Harrison’s Songs Got Worse the Longer The Beatles Worked on Them, Claimed an Engineer

George Harrison began contributing more songs to The Beatles in the latter half of the 1960s. This meant the band dedicated more studio time to his songs, which they often found fruitless and frustrating. According to Beatles audio engineer Geoff Emerick, the band wasn’t all that enthusiastic about working on Harrison’s songs. It didn’t help that the more work they put in, the worse the finished result was.

George Harrison’s songs rarely improved with more work, said a Beatles engineer

While Harrison wrote several hits for The Beatles, his bandmates didn’t think his songs were as important as John Lennon’s or Paul McCartney’s. According to Emerick, they didn’t try very hard to hide this.

“In general, sessions where we did George Harrison songs were approached differently,” Emerick wrote in his book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. “Everybody would relax — there was a definite sense that it really didn’t matter. It was never said in so many words, but there was a feeling that his songs simply didn’t have the integrity of John’s or Paul’s — certainly they were never considered as singles — so no one was prepared to expend very much time or effort on them.”

According to Emerick, it didn’t help that Harrison’s songs never seemed to get better when they worked on them. If anything, they got worse over time.

“Often, the more time we spent on George’s songs, the worse they got,” he wrote, “whereas with John’s or Paul’s songs, the more time we spent, the better they got.”

The Beatles often found George Harrison’s songs disappointing

The Beatles found their lack of progress with Harrison’s songs frustrating. They also tended to roll their eyes at his writing in general. They believed Harrison’s songs couldn’t compare to Lennon’s or McCartney’s.

“Unfortunately, George’s songwriting wasn’t quite as impressive,” Emerick wrote. “His first attempt at contributing a song to the Sgt. Pepper album was not the well-known ‘Within You Without You,’ which ended up opening side two, but a weak track that we all winced at. It was called ‘Only a Northern Song,’ and it had minimal musical content that seemed to go nowhere.”

Emerick wasn’t the only one who held this opinion. He said everyone in the room, including producer George Martin, also admitted to disliking some of Harrison’s work.

“Everyone in the control shared my opinion,” he wrote. “In our private conversations, George Martin simply said, ‘I’m disappointed that George didn’t come up with something better,’ but I knew what he really meant; he was always on his guard because he didn’t ever want disparaging comments to be reported back. The other Beatles were clearly underwhelmed, too.”

Geoff Emerick empathized with the guitarist

While Emerick sometimes found Harrison frustrating, he could empathize with him. His bandmates frequently undervalued his work, even once he proved he could write hit songs.

“To be fair, Harrison faced an uphill battle against the massive talents of Lennon and McCartney,” he wrote. “For one thing, he was the youngest band member and was therefore frequently treated like a kid brother, not to be taken seriously. For another, he didn’t have a songwriting partner to bounce ideas off of.”

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