Review #368: All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

Karla Clifton
4 min readApr 4, 2023

#368: All Things Must Pass, George Harrison

George Harrison is the forgotten Beatle, at least in my generation. John’s reputation precedes him, Paul is super-duper cute, and Ringo — well, he has a funny name. George produced a good number of hits all on his own! And isn’t he the reason we have the song “Wonderwall”?

Speaking of which — why does RS call this his debut? Wonderwall Music was his debut (though it was a soundtrack album) and Electronic Sound was his sophomore (though it was bad). The Wikipedia page references the fact that he “considered” this record to be his solo debut, as do the editors of Rolling Stone.

I’m sorry, but that’s adorable. What?? Okay, I “consider” this post, #368, to be Karla Clifton’s Medium debut. See? That doesn’t make it true.

Okay well whatever, I guess we just let Beatles do whatever they want. Also it’s wild that he’s saying that when this is the most Beatlesy Beatles solo record ever — probably partially because frequent Beatles collaborator (and never forget — convicted murderer) Phil Spector helped produce it. A good percentage of these Harrison tunes were just songs the Beatles rejected (see “Wah-Wah” and “Run of the Mill”). There’s also a few songs reflecting on the Fab Four — “Isn’t It A Pity” (both versions) is a sad reflection on the band’s breakup, and “Apple Scruffs” is tribute to the die-hard Beatles stalkers that hung outside Apple Corps. Obviously the best Beatles tribute is “It’s Johnny’s Birthday,” a chaotic Yoko Ono commission.

If there’s one song everybody knows off this album, it’s “My Sweet Lord,” a pop hymnal, complete with culture-melting Hallelujah and Hare krishna chants. This is the duality where Harrison lives — he was just as into spirituality as Mr. Lennon, and spends much of this triple album’s runtime preaching. Much of it is mystical and soft — “Beware of Darkness,” “All Things Must Pass,” and “Art of Dying” are contemplative sermons. “Awaiting on You All” is a gospel banger. “Hear Me Lord,” on the other hand, is a moving, desperate plea for divine forgiveness. Forgive me lord, those years when I ignored you… Help me lord, to love you with more feeling.

Don’t get any ideas about Harrison being this awesome dude or anything, though. For one thing, he was married to Pattie Boyd and wrote many songs about her (see “What Is Life”), but he also habitually cheated on her (see “Let It Down”), which is a dick move no matter how much you love love (see “I Dig Love”). Don’t feel too bad for her, though, because she ended up leaving Harrison for Eric freaking Clapton, who wrote “Layla” about her. Harrison and Clapton even had a guitar duel over her??? God, how come no one’s having guitar duels over me?

And it gets even crazier, because Clapton is on this album! In fact, he’s big time on the album — the final act of the record is an instrumental, rock-and-roll-slash-blues showcase called Apple Jam, each one featuring several noodly solos from both Clapton and Harrison, plus Dave Mason from Traffic. Others have called this section of the record “dispensable,” but honestly, it was my favorite part. And the songs have some delightful names to boot — “Out of the Blue,” “Plug Me In,” “I Remember Jeep,” and of course, “Thanks For the Pepperoni.”

Eric freaking Clapton isn’t the only famous friend that Harrison features. Ringo, John, and Yoko all make appearances, but the one that surprised me most was Bob Dylan, who co-wrote opening track “I’d Have You Anytime.” Harrison’s friendship with Dylan is shockingly wholesome — he’s quoted as saying that Dylan had “said and done more, I think, than the lot of show business put together.” Isn’t that sweet? Dylan’s influence is all over the record, from the decidedly American-country-flavored slide guitar (see “If Not For You” and bonus track “I Live For You”) to the song that Harrison dedicated to the man himself, “Behind That Locked Door.” See? Not all your famous friends will steal your wife.

Isn’t it unfair that we all forgot about George Harrison? I mean, he was clearly the coolest one! A guitar duel with Eric Clapton? I know he lost, but still.

Final Note: See the “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll).” Only a Beatle could make a song about a lawyer sound so cool.

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