The Beatles classic George Harrison attributed to The Byrds: “That’s how I see it”

The Beatles always operated like a musical sponge half the time they were in the spotlight. If they were listening to something that they liked and had never heard before, it didn’t take them long for them to spit out something that paid tribute to it while also getting their own perfect song out of the deal. The Byrds may have adopted their entire schtick from The Beatles, George Harrison admitted to listening right back to them when writing the basis for ‘Here Comes the Sun’.

By the time Harrison started work on his folk-rock masterpiece, he was already knee-deep in the sounds of India. The entire premise of his musical vocabulary had changed as far back as Rubber Soul, and the rest of his musical output would reflect his spiritual side, whether that was in the lyrics or breaking out the sitar every now and again.

When The Beatles first heard The Byrds, Harrison was more interested in the kind of chiming sound that Roger McGuinn got out of his guitar. Sure, Harrison was the person who inspired McGuinn to get a Rickenbacker electric 12-string in the first place, but his way of weaving together country-style licks and pure sonic sheen on tracks like ‘Turn Turn Turn’ ended up cropping up in songs like ‘If I Needed Someone’ off Rubber Soul.

Once The Beatles reached the end of 1968, Harrison had grown into a much better songwriter than anyone anticipated. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t give nearly enough inclusion in the band as they should have, he made up for it by having the two best numbers on their best-ever album, Abbey Road. 

While it’s debatable what The Beatles’ best album is, you aren’t going to find one more accomplished than this, featuring Harrison weaving together a perfect melody on ‘Something’. But ‘Here Comes the Sun’ wasn’t made out of just the joy of songwriting. After not having to work in an office at Apple Records, Harrison found himself going back to The Byrds’ tricks in Eric Clapton’s garden.

Strumming away on his acoustic, Harrison later said that the tune was the perfect answer to what The Byrds had done, saying, “It was a really nice day, and that song just came to me. It’s a bit like ‘If I Needed Someone’, where there’s a riff going through it. It’s a very ‘Bells of Rhymney ’-Byrds type of thing. That’s how I see it anyway.”

For a song that was supposed to have that same chiming sound of The Byrds, Harrison put his own unique twist on it. Regardless of how he decides to twist his influences, the strange chords that Harrison puts into the track are pure Beatles, especially when he gets to the second half of the chorus and moves to a B major chord, which sounds like the clouds parting on that sunny day.

You can’t take that Indian influence out of someone like Harrison, either, and his knowledge of different time signature changes makes the midsection of the track both a rhythmic nightmare and a stroke of genius simultaneously. Harrison already had songs stockpiled for the next four albums’ worth of material, but it’s nice to see one of his final Beatles contributions come from the band that took inspiration from them in the first place.

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