“When We Was Fab”
George Harrison was the first member of the Beatles to release a solo album (the 1968 soundtrack Wonderwall Music). He was the first Beatle to score a No. 1 solo hit (“My Sweet Lord,” which hit the top spot in early 1971). And he was, arguably, the Beatle with the most consistent solo repertoire (John Lennon‘s was marked by spotty experimental records, Paul McCartney‘s got way too soggy and Ringo Starr‘s was, well, Ringo). Needless to say, there’s a lot to celebrate about the most neglected Beatle. Need more proof? Check out our list of the Top 5 George Harrison Songs.
“All Those Years Ago”
Going all the way back to his first proper solo album, 1970’s All Things Must Pass, Harrison would intermittently explore the Beatles’ history, cult, and legacy.
A year after Lennon’s death in 1980, he recorded this moving tribute to his former bandmate and, on a larger scale, Beatlemania. Fittingly, McCartney and Starr join him. It reached No. 2.
“Got My Mind Set on You”
For his comeback single after a five-year break (which was an eternity in the ’80s), Harrison and producer Jeff Lynne reworked an obscure R&B song from 1962. “Got My Mind Set on You” became Harrison’s third No. 1, and the album that followed, Cloud Nine, would be the last released while he was still alive (Brainwashed, the album he was working on when he died of cancer in 2001, came out a year after his death).
“What Is Life”
Harrison’s second solo single, a Top 10 hit, opens with one of his most electric guitar riffs. And then it kicks in with horns, more guitar (some it supplied by Clapton), a stirring sting arrangement and the catchiest chorus Harrison ever penned. There’s tons of personal reflection on the sprawling ‘All Things Must Pass.’ ‘What Is Life’ walks the same path but with a giant pop hook as its guide.
“My Sweet Lord”
Harrison’s first solo single was written when he was still in the Beatles and was intended for one of Apple Records’ up-and-coming singers. But after the group broke up, Harrison set “My Sweet Lord” as one of the anchors to his first proper solo album (see No. 3 on our list of the Top 10 George Harrison Songs). It immediately hit No. 1. It was also hit with a plagiarism suit by the writer of the Chiffons’ No. 1 1963 hit “He’s So Fine.” No matter. The song — a spiritual hymn enveloped in co-producer Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound — stands as Harrison’s greatest solo single, a four-minute pop masterpiece that sums up his lifelong drive and devotion.