G. Harrison's "Only A Northern Song": did the other Beatles really sabotage it (random psych noise)?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ParloFax, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    You guys have read tons of books, and I haven't. I may (or not) have got this notion from Geoff Emerick's autobiography...

    If that's true, then why did George agreed to the final mix? Or did he just at that point (Pepper sessions) decide to shelve it forever precisely because of that?

    I love this song and have always felt these random trumpet toots, shimmering sounds, etc. fitted perfectly well with the psychedelic era it belongs to.

    ...Or maybe this was just one their stoned out sessions, and they simply woke up to their senses one morning...
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
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  2. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kent, UK
    I don't think that they sabotaged it; like you, I think that the psychedelic background noises really help to make the song what it is.
     
  3. RAJ717

    RAJ717 Forum Resident

    To me, this song would have fit in much better on Sgt. Pepper than the often skipped over "Within You Without You" which seems to drone on for 20 minutes. The sounds scattered throughout "Only A Northern Song" give it a "Mr. Kite" feel and the whole theme of a band playing a song for you (the audience) would have made it perfect for the album.
     
  4. kozy814

    kozy814 Forum Resident

    I really like the FX on this. I had no idea it was "sabotaged".
     
  5. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Love the sounds. This was my favorite Beatles track when I was 3-4 in 1968-69 and only owned Yellow Submarine. Still enjoy it today.
     
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  6. Muzyck

    Muzyck Just another anonymous canine Beatle fan

    Based on the lyrics, it probably sounds the way it does by design.
     
  7. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    The harmony out of key lyric is also consistent with "A Little Help."
    Definitely would have strenthened the concept.
    Personally I would have used it in place of She's Leaving Home and Lefy WYWY though.
     
  8. drasil

    drasil Former Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Emerick's book is one of the most perplexing and unfortunate latter-day additions to beatles history. here's a man responsible for realizing a large chunk of the studio 'magic' of the group, an innovative genius whose autobiography (featuring technical details!) should have become an essential piece of the beatles historical puzzle on release.

    instead, it turned out to be riddled with factual errors, half-truths, and uncomfortable personal grudges--the centerpiece of which are his constant, startlingly vitriolic swipes at George Harrison. the situation was so severe that at least two of his peers felt compelled to publicly acknowledge the book's issues.

    it's really troubling that he felt he needed to tell his story in such an unprofessional way. I keep a copy because I'm betting at least some of the recording information given is accurate, but when it comes to anything of importance in the beatles' story, chronology, or attribution, all bets are off.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  9. dartira

    dartira Forum Resident

    Never heard anything about that. Sabotaged? Nah, it's great.
     
  10. owsley

    owsley Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston
    Geoff Emerick's book implies to me that the effects were added to spice up the song because the consesnsus from the other Fabs was that is wasn't a strong track and not a lot of time was spent recording it. I think it's another case of George H being treated like a 2nd class citizen by John, Paul and George Martin. I love this track and love all the overdubs. I think it's a great piece of pysch-pop and infinetely better than the boring and tedious Within You Without You.
     
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  11. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kent, UK

    I completely agree. It really is perplexing, and such a shame, that someone so involved with the group would release such a book. I remember reading Ken Scott's comments about it, and being shocked that Emerick would release a book full of mistakes, grudges and lies.

    Like you, I have kept the book, but I never rely on it for information, unless that information can also be found elsewhere.
     
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  12. Seederman

    Seederman Forum Resident

    That would certainly narrow the reach of Sgt. Pepper, making it a lot less interesting, imho. "Within You, Without You" is also one of its better songs; I never skip it.
     
  13. Fields&Lanes

    Fields&Lanes Active Member

    Location:
    Piedmont, VA USA
    This!!! ^^^
     
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  14. BadJack

    BadJack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Ian McDonald claimed that George turned in a lousy song on purpose, I believe.

    I completely disagree, but he's the writer. As for "OANS" replacing "Within You, Without You", would it have been that bad to have two George songs on "Pepper"?
     
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  15. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kent, UK
    I could not agree more; although I really enjoy Only A Northern Song, I do prefer the wonderful Within You Without You, which is my favourite raga/psychedelic track that they ever released.
     
  16. DrBeatle

    DrBeatle Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest via Boston
    Me, too...they did the same sort of things to lots of songs around the same time. As usual, methinks it was George airing some sour grapes and bitterness by accusing Paul, I mean the other 3, of doing so (those of you who know me know I think George is great but I always tired of his constant griping about Paul and the Beatles years)
     
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  17. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
     
  18. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident

    I had similar issues with Emerick's book. He was there and I wasn't, so I'm sure that much of it was a pretty accurate insider's perspective, but when he reported his personal opinions as if they were facts, I questioned it. He said that George was the best lead guitarist in the band in the early days, but that by 1966, "Paul had surpassed him." I can't say I agree with that. He also said Paul was a better drummer than Ringo. Could Paul have played those tricky rhythms on "Rain"?
     
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  19. theMess

    theMess Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kent, UK
    I love the Pepper album, and still think that the production holds up extremely well, but I do agree that it could have been even stronger had they added another 'George' song, and Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields.
     
  20. Folknik

    Folknik Forum Resident

    I never thought it was sabotage. The Beatles had already been experimenting with atonal and cacophanous effects in some of their other songs like "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Yellow Submarine", "Mr. Kite", the ending of "Strawberry Fields", etc. I think the weird effects enhance the song.
     
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  21. dartira

    dartira Forum Resident

    The thing I like most about Only a Northern Song is that, to me, the chord changes under the lyrics "It doesn't really matter what chords I play" are completely brilliant. That bit makes me giddy every time.
     
  22. BadJack

    BadJack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Yup. They seemed to horse around with whatever instruments were on hand through at least "Helter Skelter". I think it was just the "anything goes" spirit of the time.
     
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  23. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Greater St. Louis
    Great song. Wicked distortion on the guitars on the Yellow Submarine album. Maybe the most on any Beatles' record. It's All Too Much is unreal!
     
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  24. Nick Dunning

    Nick Dunning Forum Resident

    It's a great track, it wasn't deliberately sabotaged, if anyone made the decision that it was slightly sub-standard it would have been George.

    'Within You Without You' is pretty magnificent to my ears, and pioneering in it's fusion of eastern and western styles (the string arrangement) in the arrangement
     
  25. Chuckee

    Chuckee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY, USA
    I heard it was the other George, George Martin didn't think it fit Sgt. Pepper.
     
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