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

It’s fair to say the two high points of George Harrison‘s solo career were All Things Must Pass, his first post-Beatles solo release, and Cloud Nine, his incredible 1987 comeback. But he delivered a lot of good stuff in between, if admittedly on a less consistent basis. His 1979 single “Blow Away,” for just one example, stands out as a breezy, thoughtful gem.

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What was the song about? What inspired Harrison to write it? And how did it bring him back into the world of songwriting and recording at a time when he’d largely abandoned it? Well, to paraphrase “Blow Away,” all you got to do is read on and find out.

A Beatle on a Break

John Lennon wasn’t the only ex-Beatle to take a little break from the album-making grind in the late ’70s. George Harrison largely walked away from the music world for a two-year period as well. After releasing four albums in a four-year stretch, ending with Thirty Three & 1/3 in 1976, the Quiet Beatle lived up to his name by not releasing anything until his self-titled 1979 album, for which “Blow Away” was chosen as lead single.

Why the layoff? Well, Harrison had become a bit fed up with the scene. He never enjoyed the promotional aspects of the record-making process. And he didn’t feel the urge to tour, especially after his earlier ’70s live shows led him to get a bit carried away with excess (and caused his infamous “Dark Hoarse” period when his voice was shot).

Harrison used the time off to dive into a new hobby of his: auto racing. He became good friends with British driving legend Jackie Stewart and followed the racing tour around for a while. As a matter of fact, Harrison might not have found his way back into music so quickly, if not for a bad mood caused by a rainy day, as he explained in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1979:

“I was in the garden and it was pouring down with rain, and I suddenly became aware that I was feeling depressed, being affected by the weather. And it’s important to remember that while everything else around you changes, the soul within remains the same; you have to constantly remember that and fight for the right to be happy.”

Around that time, Harrison had been reading articles about other artists of his generation who were feeling like their talents had dried up. He was starting to wonder if the same thing was happening to him. “Blow Away” came along at the perfect time to rid him of that notion.

It also spurred him on to the making of the George Harrison album. Working with producer Russ Titelman, Harrison delivered a relaxed but focused set of originals, and “Blow Away” served as an ideal jumping-off point, hitting the Top 20 in the U.S.

What is the Meaning of “Blow Away”?

“Blow Away” manages to expertly recapture the specific incident that inspired the song, while also delivering an effective message to anyone listening who might feel the figurative clouds approaching. In the first verse, he hints the particular day in question was actually a microcosm of a much longer depression: Rained for a year ’til it dampened my heart.

But then, at the last moment before succumbing to the darkness, the narrator remembers how to turn it around: All I got to do is to, to love you and All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it / Blow away, blow away, blow away. The outlook then changes drastically for the final two verses. He admits the bad mood is hardly even a memory: Hard to remember the state I was in / Instant amnesia, the yang to the yin.

The third verse presents a man completely transformed: Breezes a-singing, now feeling good / The moment had passed like I knew that it would. “Blow Away” displayed George Harrison delivering his cosmic worldview in succinct fashion, three-verse-and-a-chorus fashion. And he knew whereof he sang, considering the song was a byproduct of a particularly transformative experience in his own life.

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Photo by Steve Morley/Redferns

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