George Harrison’s Don’t Bother Me…and then there were three….

“‘Don’t Bother Me’ I wrote in a hotel in Bournemouth, where we were playing a summer season in 1963, as an exercise to see if I could write a song. I was sick in bed.” – George Harrison

George Harrison, 'A Hard Day's Night' period (image courtesy imdb.com)

George Harrison, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ period (image courtesy imdb.com)

John Lennon and Paul McCartney have long been ranked among the premiere songwriters of the 20th century. That the pair both wrote for the same band is certainly a central element of the The Beatles’ standing in rock history.  Any band with two great songwriters is certainly very, very lucky.

As we all know, the Fabs didn’t have two great songwriters – they had three. The emergence of George Harrison’s songwriting talent only serves to reiterate that, as in so much of their lives and career,  The Beatles were winners of whatever history’s equivalent of the Powerball is.

George, who was given the moniker “the quiet Beatle,” might better have been denominated “the independent Beatle.” Because he was younger (and remember, Paul, and George got together when they were very young and Paul had to sell John on allowing George to join the band that eventually became THE band) , his status was predicated on 1) his guitar playing (which was better than anyone’s, not excluding John or Paul) and 2) his absolute commitment to the cause (which equaled John’s and Paul’s). That he might be a creative contributor was a matter of little importance to the creative power center that was Lennon/McCartney. George, however, was a force to be reckoned with….

George was dismissive of his first songwriting effort:

I don’t think it’s a particularly good song; it mightn’t be a song at all. But at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing and maybe eventually I would write something good. I still feel now: I wish I could write something good. It’s relativity. It did, however, provide me with an occupation.

As we know, George did write “something good.” The second most covered Beatles song is “Something,” and the rest of George’s catalogue is as impressive as those of his “big brothers” John and Paul.

But like many a great artist, George had to begin somewhere. He began with “Don’t Bother Me”:

The lyrics are atypical for Beatles’ songs of what has been called their “Edenic” period; while ostensibly a love song, “Don’t Bother Me’s” lyrics express the alienation that George felt, much of it caused by the relentless crush of Beatlemania on a reflective, contemplative soul as Harrison was:

“Don’t Bother Me”

Since she’s been gone
I want no one
To talk to me
It’s not the same
But I’m to blame
It’s plain to seeSo go away and leave me alone
Don’t bother me

I can’t believe
That she would leave
Me on my own
It’s just not right
Where every night
I’m all alone

I’ve got no time for you right now
Don’t bother me

I know I’ll never be the same
If I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be
The only girl for me

But till she’s here
Please don’t come near
just stay away
I’ll let you know
When she’s come home
Untill that the day

Don’t come around leave me alone
Don’t bother me

I’ve got no time for you right now
Don’t bother me

I know I’ll never be the same
If I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be
The only girl for me

But till she’s here
Please don’t come near
Just stay away
I’ll let you know
When she’s come home
Until that the day

Don’t come around leave me alone
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me

While “Don’t Bother Me” appeared on the first American Beatles album to gain traction, it wasn’t until a year later that George’s second song. “I Need You,” a much more conventional love song, appeared. Part of the reason for that delay lies in this explanation George offered to an interviewer near the end of the band’s career:

“I used to have a hang-up about telling John, Paul and Ringo I had a song for an album,” George admitted in 1969, “because I felt mentally, at that time, as if I was trying to compete.  And in a way, the standard of the songs had to be good, because (John and Paul’s) were very good.  I don’t want The Beatles to be recording rubbish for my sake…just because I wrote it.”

He needn’t have worried. “Don’t Bother Me” stands up very well, both as an admirable first effort and as a harbinger of the songwriter who would give us classics such as “Think for Yourself,” “Taxman,” “Within You, Without You,” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

And so The Beatles acquired a third great songwriter. To put it another way, the rich got richer.

Advertisements

About Jim Booth

Novelist, college professor, rock musician - are we getting the band back together? Maybe....
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s