The Paul McCartney Project

Something

Written by George Harrison

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Something” is a song by the Beatles, written by George Harrison and released on the band’s 1969 album Abbey Road. It was also issued on a double A-sided single with another track from the album, “Come Together“. “Something” was the first Harrison composition to appear as a Beatles A-side, and the only song written by him to top the US charts before the band’s break-up in April 1970. The single was also one of the first Beatles singles to contain tracks already available on an LP album.

The song drew high praise from the band’s primary songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney; Lennon stated that “Something” was the best song on Abbey Road, while McCartney considered it the best song Harrison had written. As well as critical acclaim, the single achieved commercial success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and making the top five in the United Kingdom. The song has been covered by over 150 artists, making it the second-most covered Beatles song after “Yesterday“. Artists who have covered the song include Phish, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, James Brown, Shirley Bassey, Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Smokey Robinson, Ike & Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Isaac Hayes, Julio Iglesias and Neil Diamond. Harrison said his favourite version of the song was James Brown’s, which he kept in his personal jukebox.

Background and inspiration

George Harrison began writing “Something” in September 1968, during a session for the Beatles’ self-titled double album, commonly known as “the White Album“. In his autobiography, I, Me Mine, he recalls working on the melody on a piano, while Paul McCartney carried out overdubs in a neighbouring studio at London’s Abbey Road Studios. Harrison put the composition “on ice” at first, believing that with the tune having come to him so easily, it might have been the melody from another song. In I, Me, Mine, he adds that the middle eight for “Something” “took some time to sort out“.

The song’s opening lyric was taken from the title of “Something in the Way She Moves“, a track by Harrison’s fellow Apple Records artist James Taylor. While musically Harrison imagined the composition in the style of Ray Charles, his inspiration for “Something” was his wife, Pattie Boyd. In her 2007 autobiography, Wonderful Today, Boyd recalls: “He told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful …” Boyd discusses the song’s subsequent popularity among other recording artists and concludes: “My favourite [version] was the one by George Harrison, which he played to me in the kitchen at Kinfauns.

Having begun to write love songs that were directed at both God and a woman, with his White Album track “Long, Long, Long“, Harrison later cited alternative sources for his inspiration for “Something“. In early 1969, according to author Joshua Greene, Harrison told his friends from the Hare Krishna Movement that the song was about the Hindu deity Krishna; in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, he said of his approach to writing love songs: “all love is part of a universal love. When you love a woman, it’s the God in her that you see.” By 1996, Harrison had denied writing “Something” for Boyd, adding that “everybody presumed I wrote it about Pattie” because of the promotional film accompanying the release of the Beatles’ recording, which showed each member of the band with his respective wife.

Composition

In the version issued on the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road, which was the first release for the song, “Something” runs at a speed of around 66 beats per minute and is in common time throughout. It begins with a five-note guitar figure, which functions as the song’s chorus, since it is repeated before each of the verses and also closes the track. The melody is in the key of C major until the eight-measure-long bridge, or middle eight, which is in the key of A major. Harrison biographer Simon Leng identifies “harmonic interest … [in] almost every line” of the song, as the melody follows a series of descending half-steps from the tonic over the verses, a structure that is then mirrored in the new key, through the middle eight. The melody returns to C major for the guitar solo, the third verse, and the outro.

While Leng considers that, lyrically and musically, “Something” reflects “doubt and striving to attain an uncertain goal“, author Ian Inglis writes of the confident statements that Harrison makes throughout regarding his feelings for Boyd. Referring to lines in the song’s verses, Inglis writes: “there is a clear and mutual confidence in the reciprocal nature of their love; he muses that [Boyd] ‘attracts me like no other lover’ and ‘all I have to do is think of her,’ but he is equally aware that she feels the same, that ‘somewhere in her smile, she knows.’” Similarly, when Harrison sings in the middle eight that “You’re asking me will my love grow / I don’t know, I don’t know“, Inglis interprets the words as “not an indication of uncertainty, but a wry reflection that his love is already so complete that it may simply be impossible for it to become any greater“. Richie Unterberger of AllMusic describes “Something” as “an unabashedly straightforward and sentimental love song” written at a time “when most of the Beatles’ songs were dealing with non-romantic topics or presenting cryptic and allusive lyrics even when they were writing about love“.

Pre-Abbey Road recording history

The Beatles’ Get Back rehearsals

Harrison first introduced “Something” at a Beatles session on 19 September 1968, when he played it to George Martin’s stand-in as producer of The Beatles, Chris Thomas, while the latter was working out the harpsichord part for Harrison’s track “Piggies“. Despite Thomas’s enthusiasm for the new composition, Harrison chose to focus on “Piggies“. He told Thomas that he intended to offer “Something” to singer Jackie Lomax, whose debut album Harrison was producing for Apple Records. “Something” was not among the tracks released on Lomax’s album, however, much of which was recorded in Los Angeles following the completion of the White Album.

After Harrison rejoined the Beatles in January 1969 for their Get Back film project (later released as Let It Be), “Something” was one of many recent compositions that he offered to the group. Leng describes this period as a prolific one for Harrison as a songwriter, comparing it with John Lennon’s peak of creativity over 1963–64, yet Harrison’s songs received little interest from Lennon and McCartney amid the tense, uncooperative atmosphere within the band. Martin was also unimpressed by “Something” at first, considering it “too weak and derivative“, according to music journalist Mikal Gilmore.

The Beatles rehearsed the song at Apple Studio on 28 January. With the proceedings being recorded by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg for the planned documentary film, tapes reveal Harrison discussing his unfinished lyrics for “Something” with Lennon and McCartney, since he had been unable to complete the song’s second line, which begins “Attracts me …” To serve as a temporary filler, Lennon suggested “like a cauliflower“, which Harrison then altered to “like a pomegranate“. In their study of the available tapes, Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt write that the Beatles gave the song two run-throughs that day, which was the only occasion that they attempted it during the Get Back/Let It Be project.

Harrison solo demo

Following the Beatles’ brief efforts with “Something” on 28 January, Harrison talked with Lennon and Yoko Ono about recording a solo album of his unused songs, since he had already stockpiled enough compositions “for the next ten years“, given his usual allocation of two tracks per album, and in order to “preserve this, the Beatle bit, more“. Lennon offered his support for the idea, similarly keen that his and Ono’s recording projects outside the Beatles could continue without jeopardising the band’s future. On 25 February 1969 – his 26th birthday – Harrison entered Abbey Road Studios and taped solo demos of “Something“, “Old Brown Shoe” and “All Things Must Pass“, the last two of which had also been rejected recently by Lennon and McCartney.

With Ken Scott serving as his engineer, he recorded a live take of “Something“, featuring just electric guitar and vocal. By this point, Harrison had completed the lyrics, although he included an extra verse, sung to a counter-melody, over the section that would comprise his guitar solo on the Beatles’ subsequent official recording. This demo version of “Something” remained unreleased until its inclusion on the Beatles’ outtake collection Anthology 3 in 1996.  […]

Recording and production

George’s “Something” was out of left field. It was about Pattie, and it appealed to me because it has a very beautiful melody and is a really structured song … I think George thought my bass-playing was a little bit busy. Again, from my side, I was trying to contribute the best I could, but maybe it was his turn to tell me I was too busy. – Paul McCartney, 2000

The Beatles undertook the recording of Abbey Road with a sense of discipline and cooperation that had largely been absent while making the White Album and Let It Be. Having temporarily left the group in January 1969 partly as a result of McCartney’s criticism of his musicianship, Harrison exhibited a greater level of assertiveness regarding his place in the band, particularly while they worked on his compositions “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun“. In addition, like Lennon and McCartney, Martin had come to fully appreciate Harrison as a songwriter, later saying: “I first recognised that he really had a great talent when we did ‘Here Comes the Sun.’ But when he brought in ‘Something,’ it was something else … It was a tremendous work – and so simple.

The group recorded “Something” on 16 April before Harrison decided to redo the song, a new basic track for which was then completed at Abbey Road on 2 May. The line-up was Harrison on Leslie-effected rhythm guitar, Lennon on piano, McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on drums, and guest musician Billy Preston playing Hammond organ. On 5 May, at Olympic Sound Studios, McCartney re-recorded his bass part and Harrison added lead guitar. At this point, the song ran to eight minutes, due to the inclusion of an extended coda led by Lennon’s piano.

After taking a break from recording, the band returned to “Something” on 11 July, when Harrison overdubbed what would turn out to be a temporary vocal. With the resulting reduction mix, much of the coda, along with almost all of Lennon’s playing on the main part of the song, was cut from the recording. The piano can be heard only in the middle eight, specifically during the descending run that follows each pair of “I don’t know” vocal lines. Lennon later reprised the piano chords from the discarded coda in his 1970 song “Remember“. On 16 July, Harrison recorded a new vocal, with McCartney overdubbing his harmony vocal over the middle eight and Starr adding both a second hi-hat part and a cymbal.

Following another reduction mix, at which point the remainder of the coda was excised from the track, Martin-arranged string orchestration was overdubbed on 15 August, as Harrison, working in the adjacent studio at Abbey Road, re-recorded his lead guitar part live. Writing for Rolling Stone in 2002, David Fricke described the Beatles’ version of “Something” as “actually two moods in one: the pillowy yearning of the verses … and the golden thunder of the bridge, the latter driven by Ringo Starr’s military flourish on a high-hat cymbal“. Leng highlights Harrison’s guitar solo on the recording as “a performance that is widely regarded as one of the great guitar solos“, and one in which Harrison incorporates the gamaks associated with Indian classical music, following his study of the sitar in 1965–68, while also foreshadowing the expressive style he would adopt on slide guitar as a solo artist.

Release

Apple Records issued Abbey Road on 26 September 1969, with “Something” sequenced as the second track, following Lennon’s “Come Together“. Lennon considered “Something” to be the best song on the album; having ensured that “Old Brown Shoe” was chosen as the B-side for the Beatles’ single “The Ballad of John and Yoko“, according to his later recollection, Lennon now pushed Allen Klein to release “Something” as a single from Abbey Road. Coupled with “Come Together“, the double A-side single was issued on 6 October in America (as Apple 2654) and 31 October in Britain (as Apple R5814).

The release marked the first time that a Harrison composition had been afforded A-side treatment on a Beatles single, as well as the only time during their career that a single was issued in the UK featuring tracks already available on an album. In a 1990 letter to Mark Lewisohn, Klein refuted a claim made by Lewisohn in his book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, that the single was intended as a money-making exercise; Klein said it was purely a mark of Lennon’s regard for “Something” and “to point out George as a writer, and give him courage to go in and do his own LP. Which he did.” Following the Beatles’ break-up in April 1970, Harrison’s ascendancy as a songwriter would continue with his triple album All Things Must Pass, building on the promise of White Album tracks such as “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and his two contributions to Abbey Road.

Commercial success

Although its commercial impact was lessened by the ongoing success of the parent album, “Something“/”Come Together” was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 27 October. During the single’s chart run on Billboard in the US, “Something” peaked at number 3 until the magazine changed its practice of counting sales and airplay separately for each song; following this change on 29 November, the single topped the Billboard Hot 100, for one week. “Something“/”Come Together” thereby became the Beatles’ eighteenth number 1 single in the US, surpassing Elvis Presley’s record of seventeen.

As the preferred side, “Something” was number 1 in Canada (for five weeks), Australia (five weeks), West Germany (two weeks), New Zealand and Singapore. In the other US national charts, Record World listed “Something“/”Come Together” at number 1, while in Cash Box magazine, which continued to rank each song separately, “Something” peaked at number 2 and “Come Together” spent three weeks at number 1. The combined sides reached number 4 in Britain. There, the release was highly unusual, given the traditional preference for non-album singles; in addition, according to former Mojo editor Paul Du Noyer, “so enormous were sales of Abbey Road that demand for the single was inevitably dampened.

On 17 February 1999, “Something” was certified double Platinum by the RIAA. In its 2014 list titled “The Beatles’ 50 Biggest Billboard Hits“, Billboard places the double A-side single in sixth place, immediately after “Let It Be” and ahead of “Hello, Goodbye“. Additionally, “Something” is placed again at number 30, representing the song’s performance before the November 1969 Hot 100 rule change.

Promotional video

The promotional video for “Something” was shot shortly after Lennon had privately announced that he was leaving the band. By this time, the individual Beatles had drawn apart and so the film consisted of separate clips of each Beatle walking around his home, accompanied by his wife, edited together. The film was directed by Neil Aspinall.

The promo film is included in the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1. […]

I thought it was George’s greatest track – with Here Comes The Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. They were possibly his best three. Until then he had only done one or two songs per album. I don’t think he thought of himself very much as a songwriter, and John and I obviously would dominate – again, not really meaning to, but we were ‘Lennon and McCartney’. So when an album comes up, Lennon and McCartney go and write some stuff – and maybe it wasn’t easy for him to get into that wedge. But he finally came up with Something and a couple of other songs that were great, and I think everyone was very pleased for him. There was no jealousy. In fact, I think Frank Sinatra used to introduce Something as his favourite Lennon/McCartney song. Thanks Frank.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 19 Aug 1969.
UK: Apple R5814 single 1969, Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969, Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
US: Apple 2654 single 1969, Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969, Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987, EMI single 1989, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

Last updated on November 30, 2016

Lyrics

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me
I don't want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

Somewhere in her smile she knows
That I don't need no other lover
Something in her style that shows me
I don't want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

You're asking me will my love grow
I don't know, I don't know
You stick around and it may show
I don't know, I don't know

Something in the way she knows
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don't want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

Officially appears on


Something - Come Together

7" Single

3:03 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Handclaps
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon:
Guitar, Piano
George Harrison:
Handclaps, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Jeff Jarratt:
Engineer
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Billy Preston:
Hammond organ

Session Recording:
May 02, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 05, 1969
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Overdubs:
11,16 Jul, 15 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 19, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Abbey Road

Official album • Released in 1969

3:02 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Handclaps
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Handclaps
John Lennon:
Guitar, Piano
George Harrison:
Handclaps, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Jeff Jarratt:
Engineer
Glyn Johns:
Engineer
Billy Preston:
Hammond organ

Session Recording:
May 02, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 05, 1969
Studio:
Olympic Sound Studios, London

Session Overdubs:
11,16 Jul, 15 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 19, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

3:19 • DemoB • Mono • The demo is simplicity itself: a live-in-one-take electric guitar/vocal performance that, in addition to definitive lyric, also embraced a counter-melody verse later dropped.

Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 25, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


1

Official album • Released in 2000

3:01 • Studio version


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

2:33 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Tampa, USA on May 15, 2002


Back In The World

Official live • Released in 2003

2:33 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne:
Producer
Michael Brauer:
Engineer
Ricardo Chavarria:
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Tampa, USA on May 15, 2002


Concert For George

Official album • Released in 2003

4:25 • LiveL2

Concert From "A Concert For George" in London, United Kingdom on Nov 29, 2002


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

3:29 • Studio version • (with "Blue Jay Way" transition) – The track contains vocal elements from "Nowhere Man", laughter from "Hey Bulldog" and possibly even "Carnival of Light" in the "Blue Jay Way" transition.

George Martin:
Producer
Giles Martin:
Producer
Paul Hicks:
Remix engineer
Sam Okell:
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster:
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles:
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Good Evening New York City

Official live • Released in 2009

4:04 • LiveL3 • Could have been record on 17, 18 or 21 July 2009

Paul McCartney:
Executive producer
Performed by:
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
Geoff Emerick:
Audio mixing
Paul Hicks:
Audio mixing
Jonas Westling:
Additional engineering
Richard Lancaster:
Additional engineering
John Henry:
Recording

Concert From the concert in New York, USA on Jul 17, 2009

Live performances

“Something” has been played in 352 concerts and 26 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Something” has been played


Glasgow • SSE Hydro

Dec 14, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour


Liverpool • Echo Arena

Dec 12, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour




Krakow • Tauron Arena

Dec 03, 2018 • Part of Freshen Up Tour



Contribute!

Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.