Hear The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” With a Re-Discovered George Harrison Solo

George Har­ri­son “nev­er thought he was any good” as a gui­tarist, says his son Dhani, and so “he focused on touch and con­trol… not hit­ting any off notes, not mak­ing strings buzz, not play­ing any­thing that would jar you.” Har­ri­son him­self put it this way, in typ­i­cal­ly self-effac­ing, mys­ti­cal fash­ion: “I play the notes you nev­er hear.” Of course, as most every thought­ful gui­tar play­er will tell you, these are exact­ly the mak­ings of a good—and in Harrison’s case, great—guitarist. A dime a dozen are play­ers who can play speed runs and flashy solos, who have learned every lick from their favorite songs and can re-pro­duce them exact­ly. But it’s the sensitivity—the per­son­al “touch and con­trol” over the instrument—that mat­ters most, and that can make a player’s tone impos­si­ble to dupli­cate. Harrison’s play­ing, Dhani says, “is the rea­son no one can real­ly cov­er the Bea­t­les faith­ful­ly…. At some point there’s going to be a George Har­ri­son solo, and that solo is usu­al­ly per­fect.”

I would cer­tain­ly say that is the case with the gui­tar solo in “Here Comes the Sun.” Oh, you’ve nev­er heard it? That’s because the song, as it was orig­i­nal­ly released on 1969’s Abbey Road didn’t have one. For what­ev­er rea­son, George Mar­tin decid­ed to leave it out, and the song, we might agree, is per­fect with­out it. But the solo—rediscovered by Mar­tin and Dhani Harrison—is also per­fect. You can hear a ver­sion of the song with the solo restored at the top of the post, cour­tesy of Youtube user Kanaal van Dutch­Doun­pour. And above, see Dhani, Mar­tin, and Martin’s son Giles redis­cov­er­ing the solo, which Mar­tin had for­got­ten about, while play­ing around with the mas­ter tracks of the song in 2012. (The sec­ond video first appeared on our site that same year.) At 1:01, the solo sud­den­ly appears. Mar­tin leans in and lis­tens atten­tive­ly and Dhani says, “It’s total­ly dif­fer­ent to any­thing I’ve ever heard.” It’s unmis­tak­able Har­ri­son, the “liq­uid qual­i­ty” Jayson Greene iden­ti­fied in a Pitch­fork appre­ci­a­tion, more evoca­tive of “a zither, a clarinet—something more del­i­cate, nuanced and lyri­cal than an elec­tric gui­tar.”

Impos­si­ble, I’d say, to dupli­cate. Even the younger Harrison—perhaps the most faith­ful inter­preter of George’s music—finds him­self fudg­ing his father’s solos when cov­er­ing his songs, play­ing his own instead. Har­ri­son, says Tom Pet­ty, always had a way of “find­ing the right thing to play. That was part of the Bea­t­les mag­ic.” He may not be remem­bered as the most vir­tu­oso of gui­tarists, he may not have thought much of his own play­ing, but no one has ever played like him, before or since. See Har­ri­son play an acoustic ren­di­tion of “Here Comes the Sun”—sans solo—above at the con­cert for Bangladesh.

(Note: some read­ers have point­ed out that the solo at the top of the post sounds out of tune. We do not doubt that it is George Har­rison’s play­ing, but it has been edit­ed and pos­si­bly even sped up to match the final mas­tered record­ing. This is not a pro­fes­sion­al remix, but only a rough recre­ation of what the song might have sound­ed like had the lost solo been includ­ed.)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

George Har­ri­son in the Spot­light: The Dick Cavett Show (1971)

Watch George Harrison’s Final Inter­view and Per­for­mance (1997)

George Harrison’s Mys­ti­cal, Fish­eye Self-Por­traits Tak­en in India (1966)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (19)
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  • Robert says:

    The solos in the two videos are not the same. No way in hell first one is George Har­ri­son play­ing. It’s ter­ri­ble and off key.

  • steww says:

    Is this an April fools post put up too soon? As Robert says the solo is so hor­ri­ble and out of tune.

  • Walter says:

    its a Celtic song.….……

  • Howard Haigh says:

    It’s awful! And it prob­a­bly is George. Come on, we love his song and I’m glad that the point­less and messy solo was­n’t includ­ed on the fin­ished mix. It would have ruined it.

  • Josh Jones says:

    The solo has obvi­ous­ly been edit­ed, and maybe sped up a bit as well, which would change the pitch and make it sound slight­ly out of tune. Also, it’s not real­ly mixed, just sits on top of the song. All of that makes it sound odd, which is to be expect­ed from a user-made Youtube mix I guess. Mat­ter of taste whether you like it or not, but I’m pret­ty cer­tain this comes from George’s orig­i­nal solo as heard in the clip with Dhani and George Mar­tin below it–although this is not what it would sound like if Mar­tin had mixed it.

  • Rob says:

    the solo does sound jar­ring in the first video. I think the song is bet­ter with­out it.. On the oth­er hand, the live per­for­mance was so beau­ti­ful it brought tears to my eyes.

    The song is sheer genius.

  • kate vanderpool says:

    crit­i­cisms aside — this is so beau­ti­ful — brings back mem­o­ries of that time in my his­to­ry (many I wish I could have changed because of bad choic­es) but also brngs back the feel­ings of the era that I was for­tu­nate enough to live through. Thank you Open Cul­ture for this and every­thing you do. You are by far one f the absolute best sites ever. I’m so glad I found you.

  • Mike Norman says:

    Yeah, it was very dif­fer­ent, but i think it is actu­al­ly pret­ty cool. I liked the risk he took, by stray­ing from con­ven­tion.

  • Fred Schlip says:

    Like­ly George would have done oth­er takes had he decid­ed an elec­tric solo was need­ed. Some of his finest gui­tar work is on Abbey Road.

  • JSintheStates says:

    There is a rea­son movies are edit­ed, and albums are mixed! When some­thing does­n’t work, you lose it! Try­ing very hard to re-dis­cov­er some­thing that was trashed in the first place does­n’t make it good” this should have been left onthe cut­tin­groom floor!

  • Bill says:

    Per­haps the most under­rat­ed gui­tarist of his era.

    The first mix is not so well done and way too loud, but I like the solo itself and agree that it comes across much bet­ter in the George and Dhani video. I guess I’m just too used to the “orig­i­nal” ver­sion of the song to like it that much.

    On the oth­er hand, the in your face solo on the album ver­sion of “Let it Be” takes that song to a whole new, and in my opin­ion, much bet­ter lev­el than the sin­gle.

  • Kelley says:

    I pre­fer the song with­out the new­ly found “lost” gui­tar, but maybe I’m just a purist when it comes to my favorite song of all time. Thank you, George. I thank you every year on your birth­day for this song, and here I am hold­ing up my annu­al tra­di­tion. Thank you. Namaste.

  • Cathy says:

    I loved the solo, I like the song both ways, in fact I think I’ll miss the solo every­time I hear the song now, those notes will play in my head. The solo real­ly evokes the era, it’s beau­ti­ful.

  • JoeCorrao says:

    Some of Ringo’s best stuff

  • Jan Rudolf Pettersen says:

    I agree the solo is not per­fect. But i gives a won­de­ful pic­ture of George emi­nents skills as a gui­tarist and musi­cian. When he droped this solo he made the right deci­sion. Like his first solo on “Can’t buy me love” from 1964 (EMI made unjus­tice to George by skip­ping that ter­ri­ble first attempt when they made Anthol­o­gy CD). On an unedit­ed boot­leg you can here what an gigan­tic devel­op­ment George went through in only three takes. This also shows his aboli­ty as a musi­cian.

  • Xavier says:

    This solo is great, reminds Clap­ton some­where and prob­a­bly influ­enced by…Slightly out of key on the end, or maybe even dis­so­nant, even better!Too bad it was­n’t insert­ed, the song is beau­ti­ful as it is, very pos­i­tive, but this adds a lit­tle extra in the har­mo­ny, sounds like picked from an ear­ly jam/version of the song…

  • Glern LaPointe says:

    Like this ver­sion, with Georges gui­tar dif­fer­ences. His son says that George nev­er thought of him­self as a good Gui­tar Play­er. I beg to Dif­fer with you George. Your Gui­tar was Phe­nom­i­nal, and ill always love the Won­der­ful Con­tri­bu­tions you gave to the Band, and to all of us. As far as this Fan is con­cerned, you were the Writer of some of the Bea­t­les great­est songs, and so far ahead of the rest of your mates. You have always been my Favo­rate Bea­t­le.

  • Susan Trout says:

    Oh, how lucky I was to live dur­ing Beat­le­ma­nia. They changed music FOREVER! George Mar­tin was so impor­tant to their suc­cess, too. He was a mar­velous pro­duc­er! This is won­der­ful! Thanks to whomev­er dis­cov­ered it and shared it.

  • Mean Mr Mustard says:

    Are you starved for clicks?
    This sounds like crap and is cer­tain­ly not worth dredg­ing up as some lost beau­ti­ful moment.

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