6 Songs You Didn’t Know George Harrison Wrote for Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Though a majority of The Beatles’ songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, George Harrison accumulated hundreds of songs he had written for the band that never made the cut. Still, the guitarist managed to squeeze one or two songs onto Beatles albums, beginning with his first credited song with the band, “Don’t Bother Me,” off their second album, With the Beatles, and later on with Help! tracks “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much.” 

As he was introducing more diverse instrumentation—sitar, tambura, 12-string, and slide guitars—into the band’s arrangements, Harrison continued to pilfer more space on the track list on subsequent releases with “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone” for the group’s sixth album Rubber Soul and the more tender ballad “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which featured his friend Eric Clapton on the recorded version, along with four contributions off The White Album and his most famous Abbey Road offerings “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

As a solo artist, Harrison released many of his piled-up songs that were initially written for The Beatles with All Things Must Pass songs “What Is Life,” “My Sweet Lord,” and “It’s Not For You,” “Isn’t It a Pity” and the title track, another song overlooked by The Beatles, and more spanning 12 albums, along with another index of songs written in his collaborative project The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.

In between The Beatles, solo material, and outside projects, Harrison also wrote several songs for other acts, including Cream, Ronnie Spector, former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr, and more throughout his career. 

Here’s a look (and listen) behind six songs George Harrison wrote for other artists.

1.”Sour Milk Sea,” Jackie Lomax (1968)
Written by George Harrison

The Beatles recorded a demo of the song and considered it for their double album The Beatles (The White Album), but the track was instead released by British artist Jackie Lomax on his debut album Is This What You Want? with The Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968. Originally written by Harrison during The Beatles’ pilgrimage to Rishikesh, India, “Sour Sea Milk” also promoted transcendental meditation, which is expressed in some of the lyrics—If you want the most from everything you do / In the shortest time your dreams come true / In no time at all makes you more aware / A very simple process takes you there. Also produced by Harrison, the harder rock track features Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, along with Eric Clapton and famed session pianist Nicky Hopkins.

2. “Badge” Cream (1969)
Written by George Harrison and Eric Clapton

Written with Eric Clapton, “Badge” was released on Cream’s final album, Goodbye, and initially never had a title. When Clapton misread Harrison’s handwriting on the song indicating a “bridge” on the track as “badge,” the title stuck.

“Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written,” said Harrison. “We were working across from each other, and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing. ‘What’s a Badge?’ he said. After that, Ringo [Starr] walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park.”

I told you not to wander ’round in the dark
I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park
Then I told you ’bout our kid, now he’s married to Mabel

3. “Try Some, Buy Some” Ronnie Spector (1971)
Written by George Harrison

Recorded by Ronnie Spector for a planned comeback album on The Beatles’ Apple Records, ”Try Some, Buy Some” was released as a single by the former Ronettes singer in April 1971. Co-produced by Spector’s then-husband Phil Spector, Harrison also plays guitar on the recorded version. In 1973, Harrison added his vocal to a new mix of the song and released “Try Some, Buy Some” on his fourth solo album Living in the Material World.

4. “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond),” Ringo Starr (1973)
Written by George Harrison

Former Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney and John Lennon contributed tracks to Ringo Starr’s third solo effort, Ringo, along with three songs by Harrison, including “Photograph,” co-written with Richard Starkey, the closing track “You and Me Babe,” written with Mal Evans, and “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond),” which Harrison penned on his own. Roused by Irish-folk and sea shanty-inspired melodies, “Sunshine Life for Me (Sail Away Raymond)” was written by Harrison while he was on vacation in Ireland with his then-wife Pattie Boyd.

Post-Beatles, Harrison, and Starr worked together several times, including on “I Still Love You,” off Starr’s fifth album Ringo’s Rotogravure in 1976. Harrison originally wrote “I Still Love You” for Welsh singer Shirley Bassey, then recorded it for his 1970 release All Things Must Pass but never used it on the album.

5. “Run So Far,” Eric Clapton (1989)
Written by George Harrison

Off Eric Clapton’s 1989 album Journeyman, “Run So Far,” was never released as a single but was Harrison’s sole contribution to his friend’s 11th album. Considered a return to form for Clapton, who was previously struggling with an addiction to alcohol, Journeyman earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the single “Bad Love.” Harrison’s own version of “Run So Far” was later released on his 12th, posthumous album Brainwashed in 2002.

6. “That Kind of Woman,” Gary Moore (1990)
Written by George Harrison

“That Kind of Woman” was one of four songs Harrison offered to Eric Clapton for his 11th album Journeyman in 1989. Though Clapton recorded it first, it was Irish singer and guitarist Gary Moore’s version that was released on his eighth album, Still Got the Blues. Clapton ended up using Harrison’s then-unreleased song “Run So Far” on Journeyman instead. Harrison considered Moore, who also contributed to the Traveling Wilburys’ 1990 single “She’s My Baby,” crossed genres in his own music, starting out in the late ’60s with late Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott in the band Skid Row, and was one of Harrison’s favorite guitarists.

“He is actually,” said Harrison in 1977 of Moore, who died at the age of 58 in 2011, when asked if the guitarist was one of his favorites. “I don’t know if from his records yet, if that’s come across, but I’ve had the privilege of seeing him playing just in a little room quietly and he is incredible.” Harrison added, “Apart from the fact that he is fast, it’s not just the speed that impresses me, but he’s got a great sense of melody and improvisation and also pitch. When he bends those strings, he goes straight to the note. It’s not all flapping about like a lot of players.”

Photos by Barry Feinstein (featured in the Sept. 2021 issue of American Songwriter) / Universal Music

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