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The classic Beatles album George Harrison didn’t understand: “I don’t see it like us”

Some of the greatest albums of all time don’t usually get to the point until years after the fact. Whereas a handful of records hit people the minute they come out as something truly extraordinary, it typically takes a lot more than just a nice set of songs to get people invested for decades to come. While Abbey Road was already a masterpiece before it had even been out for a year, George Harrison admitted that he didn’t really understand what he was doing when making it.

Of course, if you were to ask any of the remaining Beatles, it didn’t feel like they were supposed to be making anything else following their disastrous sessions for Get Back. It was clear that all of the communication wasn’t really working anymore, and it was time for everyone to undergo a massive change once they graduated to their solo careers.

But leaving a career on something like The White Album might have been a bit too jarring for most people to take in, so the goal was to make one final statement that everyone could be proud of. And despite John Lennon and Paul McCartney getting up to their usual antics and making solid gold pop hits, Harrison actually walked away with the best songs on the album.

‘Come Together’ and ‘Oh Darling’ might be excellent pop marvels for what they are, but nothing was going to get in the way of a song like ‘Something’, which might be one of the greatest love songs ever committed to tape. And while ‘Here Comes the Sun’ kicks off the second side like a huge ray of light, that’s only preparing people for the next half of the album with the medley.

Bringing together a rapid-fire collection of songs, the final minutes of the album are probably the closest thing to progressive music the Beatles ever attempted, featuring every band member giving it their all for little fragments of tracks like ‘Polythene Pam’ and ‘She Came In Through the Bathroom Window’. It may have been groundbreaking for the time, but Harrison confessed that he wasn’t sure what they were doing, either.

During an interview from around that time, Harrison said that everything didn’t seem to come together as it did for most of their other records, saying, “I got an overall image of my own of the album, whereas, with this one, I’m at a loss. It still feels very abstract to me, I can’t see it as a whole. It doesn’t feel as though it’s us. Even though we spent hours doing it, I still don’t see it like us. It’s more like just somebody else.”

Then again, Harrison probably didn’t have time to focus on the two songs he contributed to the group’s real swan song. Those were just teasers for what he would get up to in his solo career, and all of the songs on All Things Must Pass are examples of his signature brand of songwriting with a more fleshed-out arrangement.

Still, Harrison did have a point in that the album didn’t feel like it belonged to The Beatles. Because with decades in hindsight now, the Fab Four’s greatest work wasn’t something they could claim for themselves. This kind of music belonged to the world, and now these songs are as ingrained in culture just as make as Shakespeare is.

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