The Beatles Song That George Harrison Wrote to Spite His Bandmates and Publishing Company

By the time the Beatles decided to call it quits, George Harrison already had one foot out the door. Feeling overshadowed by the giant partnership of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Harrison felt his stake in the band was dwindling by the day. He decided to get back at his bandmates and management in the best way he knew how: writing a song.

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Harrison famously wasn’t a talkative character. His most famous nickname speaks to his introversion. But, that’s not to say that Harrison was completely averse to speaking his mind.

The Beatles published their music through Northern Songs, a publishing company that the band had stakes in–albeit at different percentages. As the band’s primary songwriters, McCartney and Lennon held more stake in the company than Harrison and Ringo Starr. It was one of the many qualms “The Quiet Beatle” had with his former bandmates.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind “Blow Away” by George Harrison and How It Helped Revitalize His Solo Career]

Harrison decided to get out his frustration at the situation–and his qualms with the broader music industry–in “Only A Northern Song.”

It doesn’t really matter what chords I play
What words I say
Or time of day it is
As it’s only a Northern song

“Only A Northern Song” plays like something only someone under the influence could’ve written. It’s off-kilter and deeply odd in some sections. While we’re sure Harrison could’ve been enjoying some illicit substances while penning this tune, it’s not the primary onus behind the weirdness.

“‘Only A Northern Song’ was a joke relating to Liverpool, the Holy City in the North of England,” Harrison once explained. “In addition, the song was copyrighted Northern Songs Ltd, which I don’t own, so: ‘It doesn’t really matter what chords I play… as it’s only a Northern Song.'”

It’s a commendable and unabashed effort toward spiting the powers that be. It seems Harrison may not have been “The Quiet Beatle” after all, he just needed the right medium for expression.

Check out this strange Beatles track, below.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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