George Harrison, “When We Was Fab”

Looking at it in retrospect, Cloud Nine, released thirty years ago by George Harrison, seems like just another in the long line of triumphant albums released by members of The Beatles during their solo years. Yet at the time, no one seemed like a longer shot to create a hit record than Harrison, whose reputation as a recluse who wanted nothing to do with making records peaked in the middle of the '80s.

What made the album even more surprising was how it represented a willingness by Harrison, who always seemed to view his Beatles years with caustic suspicion, to embrace the sounds of his past. The chart-topping “Got My Mind Set On You,” for example, effortlessly captured a simplistic Merseybeat feeling. Even more striking, “When We Was Fab” so eerily recreates a Beatlesque mélange of sounds that you’d be forgiven upon hearing it for the first time for thinking it was a Magical Mystery Tour outtake.

When Harrison decided upon pursuing the track, it helped that he had a kindred spirit in the producer’s chair in Jeff Lynne. “I just had the thought, ‘I’d like to write a song that’s reminiscent of that period of ’67,’” Harrison recalled in an interview from that time. “In my head, I could hear Ringo (Starr) counting it in, ‘One-two duh-duh-dum, duh-duh-dum-dum.’ And I just started right there writing that song, and then Jeff was around and we got out this piano and we came up with all these little bits like the catchy little piano part that plays the melody on the chorus. And, of course, the start of the song and the original intention was that we should have that kind of... Sign In to Keep Reading

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