The one lyric George Harrison wanted to change: “If I were to rewrite”

George Harrison never usually had the same kind of time in The Beatles as John Lennon or Paul McCartney had. He certainly had the talent to continue making incredible material, but it would be a challenge for him to get a word in amongst his fellow bandmates whenever he brought one of his tunes to the table. That gave him a lot of time to listen and internalise his songs before they became classics, but he thought that one line in ‘I Want To Tell You’ never really held up as it should have.

Then again, for a group where he was continuously thrown into the background, Revolver was the first time that Harrison seemed to become a major power player in the group. His quota was usually a handful of songs per record, but since ‘Taxman’ became the standout track and ‘Love You To’ marked a radical departure for the group, Harrison was at least on level footing with Lennon and McCartney.

When looking at ‘I Want To Tell You’, his last song on the record, is a decent melding of both styles. There’s still the Indian influence with a handful of melismas in the harmonies and the droning notes behind the guitar riff, but the bluesy tone of his guitar is decidedly more rock than what would happen on something like ‘Hey Bulldog’.

Whereas Lennon and McCartney were looking to create stories or explore their inner selves, Harrison is more about expressing himself to everyone. He had always mentioned having trouble articulating what he felt in his heart, and the core of ‘I Want To Tell You’ seems to be pure frustration at figuring out what he wants to say.

Once he started studying spiritual practices, though, Harrison thought that the original sentiment of the song didn’t work for him anymore, saying in I Me Mine, “If I were to re-write the bridge section now, I would have to say, ‘Although I seem to act unkind/It isn’t me–it is my mind’. The mind is the thing that hops about telling us to do this and that–when what we need is to lose (forget) the mind.”

While that’s spoken from the perspective of a man wise beyond his years, Harrison seemed to be an incredibly fast learner when it came to his spiritual life. Even when looking at the footage in the film Get Back, hearing Harrison talk about the group travelling to India to meet with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and trying to find out who he really was comes from someone totally devoted to his internal self.

And that philosophy never really wavered throughout his solo career, either. Whether it was him making grand epics or more lighthearted romps, Harrison was concerned with giving his fans the same kind of enlightened state that he had, either through singing along to ‘My Sweet Lord’ or making a touching love song to his creator on ‘Your Love is Forever’ from his self-titled album.

If anything, ‘I Want To Tell You’ was one of the first times Harrison let out his internal feelings, and that one track would change the course of his songwriting forever. Before, he was writing to keep up with his bandmates, but now he wrote to communicate with the other side of existence.

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