The George Harrison song that waited 30 years to be released

George Harrison must have had the patience of a saint by the end of the 1960s. Even though he knew that he had fantastic songs at his feet, the fact that he had to wait around in The Beatles while Paul McCartney tore through yet another version of ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ was bound to be torturous for anyone. Once Harrison got the chance to finally release songs of his own in the 1970s, not even a triple album was enough material for him to get all of his ideas out there.

Then again, there’s something to be said for All Things Must Pass being way too long for its own good. There are plenty of standout moments that get people on their feet, like ‘My Sweet Lord’ and ‘Wah-Wah’, but considering that over half of the third disc is made up of different jams, it tends to feel like Harrison is looking to fill the time rather than break any new ground.

If you look at the demos that he was working on around this time, a lot of them could have easily made some lost acoustic album that he could have put out later. Despite being very rough around the edges, many songs would have made any other band’s greatest hit, but Harrison had other plans in mind.

Throughout his solo catalogue, Harrison would pull from the backlog more than a few times when getting his classics down on tape. During the production for 33 and 1/3, Harrison dusted off the song ‘Woman Don’t You Cry For Me’, taking what was once an exercise to learn the slide guitar and somehow making a sleek funk groove out of it.

While many of his midperiod could have benefited from a handful of these songs on albums like Gone Troppo, Harrison joining The Traveling Wilburys helped revitalise his love of making music. The stage was set for him to make another new album after Cloud Nine, but time had other plans.

During the final years of his life, Harrison’s final album, Brainwashed, was assembled bit by bit, with the guitarist mapping everything out in case he didn’t see the release date. Right before he leaves us with his final grand statement, ‘Rocking Chair in Hawaii’ came from a song that dated all the way back to his debut.

Originally titled ‘Down to the River’, this is an early test run of the song ‘Rocking Chair in Hawaii’, which is much more country than it turned into. Instead of the strangely seductive nature of Harrison’s final version, the early version sounds like something that could have come off an early Hank Williams record, especially towards the end, where Harrison trades in his remarkable voice for some strange yodelling.

While hearing a version of Harrison talking about sex at that age sounds a little bit gross in retrospect, the final version still knocks the previous one out of the water. There were plenty of opportunities for Harrison to flesh this song out over the course of his career, but it’s nice that his final proper release does at least have a little bit of connective tissue to the beginning of his career as well.

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