Songs You Should Know: “Isn’t It A Pity” by George Harrison

It would truly be a pity if you didn’t give this George Harrison song a listen.

Videos by American Songwriter

“Isn’t It A Pity” is a song everyone should know, and here’s why: It’s a song about how we tend to take our loved ones for granted, but it’s also a reminder that we have the ability to change that behavior. We have the ability to give back.

The Backstory of “Isn’t It A Pity”

Tensions were running high amongst The Beatles in their final days together. Harrison, in particular, felt smothered by the band in the late 1960s. He had been sitting on a mountain of songs that he wrote but didn’t make the cut for a Beatles record. So, once The Beatles officially broke up in 1970, Harrison unleashed an avalanche of music onto listeners. His 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass had 23 new songs on it, two of which were “Isn’t It A Pity (Version 1)” and “Isn’t It A Pity (Version 2).”

“Version 1” is the longer form song that ran over seven minutes, and the second version runs at just under five minutes.

Initially rejected by The Beatles, Harrison wrote “Isn’t It A Pity” in 1966. The song itself possesses pointed lyrics with Harrison’s legendary slide guitar playing.

Isn’t it a pity now isn’t it a shame
How we break each other’s hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity

“‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is about whenever a relationship hits a down point,” Harrison stated in his autobiography, I Me Mine. “Instead of whatever other people do (like breaking each other’s jaws) I wrote a song. It was a chance to realize that if I felt somebody had let me down, then there’s a good chance I was letting someone else down. We all tend to break each other’s hearts, taking and not giving back.”

“Isn’t It A Pity” in the World Today

“Isn’t It A Pity” has been covered several times by the likes of Nina Simone and Eric Clapton. Peter Frampton also released his version of the song on his 2021 covers album Frampton Forgets the Words. This song has clearly made an impression on the world of artists, and it’s also struck a chord with countless listeners over the years. The song’s lyrics fit any situation of social or political unrest, whether it was the fallout of the Vietnam War or the crippling COVID-19 pandemic. No matter the situation, Harrison’s lyrics are a much-needed reminder of our humanity.

Some things take so long but how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity

Photo by Richard DiLello

Leave a Reply

Review: Bobbie Gentry’s Double CD Distillation is the Perfect Introduction to Her Short but Influential Career