Stories of Standards: "Something"

Sep 2, 2018

Tune in to Jazz with Victor Cooper - weekdays from 6-9 a.m. MT - for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long starting Monday, September 9!

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George Harrison began writing “Something” during breaks from “the White Album” in 1968, with the intention of having it recorded by Jackie Lomax, whose music he was producing at the time. When that fell through he offered the song to Joe Cocker, whose recording was released after the Beatles’ version. As is true of many songs, there are multiple stories about its origin. George said that he had written it as a tribute to Krishna, as was the following year’s “My Sweet Lord”. Pattie Boyd in her 2007 book (“Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me”) said he told her that it was written for her. He was using a piano, an unusual method for someone who usually worked on guitar. He said that he had pictured Ray Charles singing this when writing the words; Ray Charles recorded it in 1971.

The opening line was taken from a song by James Taylor, “Something in the Way She Moves”, while the tune came so easily to Harrison that he initially thought he must have heard it somewhere else. The second line initially proved difficult; John Lennon suggested “like a cauliflower”; Harrison first tried “like a pomegranate” and then used “like no other lover”. “Something” was released on the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album before its release as a single, Harrison’s first composition to come out on the A-side. (“Come Together” was on the B-side.) John Lennon called it the best song on “Abbey Road” and Paul McCartney thought it Harrison’s best song. With over 150 covers, “Something” is the second-most covered Beatles song, after “Yesterday”.