George Harrison's 10 greatest songs, ranked

29 December 2022, 12:47

George Harrison
George Harrison. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

George Harrison may have been known as the 'Quiet Beatle', but by the end of the band's lifespan, he had proved to be a songwriting force.

While Paul McCartney and John Lennon shared songwriting duties for much of The Beatles' output, George Harrison eventually came out of his shell and showed just what he was also capable of.

Not only did he write and perform some of The Beatles' finest moments - 'Something', 'Here Comes the Sun', While My Guitar Gently Weeps' just for starters - but he went on to have his own successful solo career.

Here are just 10 of George's greatest solo songs:

  1. All Those Years Ago

    Released in 1981, this song was recorded as a tribute to John Lennon, who had been shot and killed the year before.

    You could argue this was an unofficial Beatles reunion, as Ringo Starr played drums, and Paul McCartney provided backing vocals.

  2. All Things Must Pass

    The Beatles were already rehearsing this song before they split, and Billy Preston recorded it first before George took it for the title track of his triple album in 1970.

    The song deals with the transient nature of humanity, while some critics felt it was a way of dealing with the Beatles breakup.

  3. I'd Have You Anytime

    Written with Bob Dylan and featuring guitar from Eric Clapton, this is the first track from the All Things Must Pass album.

    The song is thought to be a statement of friendship between Bob and George, with George's verses urging the shy Dylan to let down his guard, while the Dylan-composed choruses are welcoming him in.

  4. When We Was Fab

    Recorded for his 1987 Cloud Nine album, this song was a nostalgic look back by on the days of Beatlemania during the 1960s, when the Beatles were known as 'the Fab Four'.

    George co-wrote the song with ELO's Jeff Lynne, who also co-produced the track. Ringo Starr also played drums on the song and appeared in the video.

  5. Dream Away

    This song appeared in the end credits for 1981's Time Bandits, which George's film production company produced.

    It was to originally appear on a planned Time Bandits soundtrack album, but when that didn't happen, George decided to also include it on his Gone Troppo album.

  6. If Not for You

    Bob Dylan wrote 'If Not for You' as a love song to his wife Sara. While Bob later recorded it for his New Morning album, George released it first on his All Things Must Pass LP.

    Bob and George duetted on the song during a soundcheck for the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh shows at Madison Square Garden in New York.

  7. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

    George Harrison knocked Paul McCartney off the top spot in the US with this song in 1973.

    The track sees George speak of his desire to be free of karma, and the constant cycle of rebirth. He later described the song as "a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it".

  8. What is Life

    This uptempo soul-inspired track was produced by Phil Spector, who employed his Wall of Sound technique to the recording. It became one of George's best known solo songs, though it was just the B-side to 'My Sweet Lord' in the UK.

    Critics have noted that it could either be a straightforward love song, or a song aimed at some kind of deity.

  9. Got My Mind Set on You

    James Ray originally released this soul track back in 1962, before George Harrison made it his own, scoring one of the biggest hits of his career in 1987.

    Produced by Jeff Lynne, it gave George a third US number one hit, and reached number two in the UK.

  10. My Sweet Lord

    This was the first number one single by an ex-Beatle, having originally given the song to Billy Preston in 1970.

    George wrote the song in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, while also intending to abandon all religious sectarianism through his deliberate blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of ‘Hare Krishna’.

    Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Badfinger also feature. In 1976, Harrison was found to have subconsciously plagiarised ‘He’s So Fine’ by The Chiffons, a verdict that had repercussions throughout the music industry.

    It returned to number one in 2001, following George's death.