Beatles: George's "Indian" songs. I love 'em.

There are people who actively dislike George’s Indian-influenced songs. Well, I say they’re great.

Within You, Without You - masterpiece.
The Inner Light (B-side to Lady Madonna) - masterpiece.
Love You To - very nice.

Then there’s George’s use of Indian instruments on other masterpieces like Norwegian Wood, Tomorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields Forever. Great contributions to great songs.

George stopped (for the most part) playing Indian instruments after 1968 or so, but there’s a very clear Indian influence on his masterful slide guitar work of the 70s.

So there. Anyone else with me on this?

I was just listening to Love You To and I agree, it’s good stuff.

YES! :cool:


I’m glad to hear it :smiley:

Another less appreciated George classic is It’s All Too Much, hidden away on the Yellow Submarine album. There’s an Indian influence on that one too, though it’s a psychedelic rock song played with western instruments.

The problem with “Within You, Without You” IMHO is that it goes on too long and kills (or at least, negatively impacts) the momentum of the album (Sgt. Pepper). I actually prefer “Love You To.”

I am inclined to agree with this, but that is minor quibbling on my part. Overall, I love what George brought to the Beatles with his exploration, in intent and sonically. The fact that he was trying new things, while also writing songs like Something that are classic songcraft, always impresses me.

I absolutely love Within You, Without You and wouldn’t cut it by a second. Besides the weird and (for popular music at the time) revolutionary bouquet of sound, there’s that rhythm that just pulses through the whole song. I know lots of people here put it on their least favorite Beatles song list, but it’s in my top five.

I couldn’t wrap my head around them when I was a kid (in the 80s/90s). I had a tape of Sgt Pepper and “Within Without You” was the first song on the second side. I always listened to side 1, flipped, and fast-forwarded past it.

Now as an adult I adore it. I agree it’s one of my top 10 favorites. I love all the others as well as his use of Indian instruments on other songs.

The pulsating rhythm is where it’s at for me, too.

I always found WYWY irritating, until I heard the version on one of the Anthology albums, which had the cut without any vocals, and it was incredible! So I had to attribute my dislike of the song to George’s vocals (which ordinarily was an enormous asset in the songs he wrote), and not to the music itself.

But The Beatles wouldn’t be the Beatles without his spiritual sensibility, so they’re all essential songs on their respective albums/singles.

I’m fond of The Beatles and enjoy almost everything they have created. I often listen to John Lennon’s “I’m Only Sleeping”, whose beautiful melody makes such a perfect song significantly due to George Harrison’s contribution.

Is that the one with the heavy distortion intro?

Yes it is. One of my favourite Beatle songs.

Blue Jay Way is another my favourite George Indian based songs.

Wonderwall, apart from being a supremely silly psychedelic film starring the very beautiful Jane Birkin, featured a soundtrack by George, mostly in the Indian style. The sadly very short Wonderwall To Be Here is particularly good.

It starts with guitar feedback, so yes.

Here is the long version.

ETA: Have you heard this version, NineToTheSky?

I’ve loved “Love You To” since the first time I heard it in 1966, but have never cared much for any of GH’s other “hardcore” Indian pieces on Beatles albums. They just don’t do anything for me. But I really like the effect George’s Indian instruments had on so many other Beatle songs. And 47 years after it was released, “Wonderwall Music” is still my favorite album by a solo Beatle, the only one I ever enjoyed listening to repeatedly. Still do.

I am chiming in as another fan of Harrison’s sitar perfumed or otherwise Indian flavored tunes. I enjoyed these songs enough as a young lad that I later bought some instruments from India as an adult.

Did Harrison play sitar on any post-Beatles era solo stuff other than the outro of ‘When We Was Fab’? I llike the Wonderwall soundtrack solo project, too, but that was released while the Beatles were still together.

Count me in as another “George’s India stuff” fan. I’ve always loved Within You Without You and The Inner Light especially. Here’s a link to the instrumental version of WYWY, if you haven’t heard it. It’s a really fantastic example of East-West fusion. High quality musicianship and arranging - listen out for the melodic playing of the tabla drums!

I pretty much love all Beatles songs, so I also love George’s Indian-influenced songs. John is typically considered the “experimental” Beatle, but in some ways George was willing to try some things the others wouldn’t… for example, he was also more willing to use dissonance (as on “I Want to Tell You” and “Only a Northern Song”).

By the way, here’s one of those “bar bet” questions: What was the first appearance of a sitar on a Beatles album? Answer: “The Chase”, credited to Ken Thorne, on the North American Capitol release of Help!. In retrospect, it sounds two years ahead of its time.

Interesting factoid.

To be fair, though, to your “in retrospect, it sounds two years ahead of its time” comment, the music in “The Chase” is straight Indian classical music which has been around for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. It’s from the final climactic section of Indian classical music performance called “jhala” which is very fast and energetic.

Although it’s credited to Ken Thorne, I doubt he had anything to do with it. Stylistically, it sounds a lot like Ravi Shankar, although I’m not convinced it’s him. It could well be a student of his, though, which might help explain the George Harrison-Ravi Shankar connection.

The Indian musicians featuring on these records don’t seem to have always got their due. For example, the accreditation of “The Chase” to Ken Thorne. Similarly, for “Within You Without You” we know the names of all the other musicians, including all the violinists, yet none of the Indian musicians who played on the track.

Of the songs referenced in the OP, the only one I’m familiar with is Norwegian Wood and it has always been my favorite Beatles song. I’m off to Spotify to listen to the others . . .