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. paul62

    paul62 Forum Resident

    I think you might be on to something, there. A basic band track with drums/bass/keyboards/brass/glockenspiel would give "Carnival Of Light" a run for its money in the "avant garde (a clue!)" stakes....
  2. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly...

    I think it's safe to assume he might not have finished the song on his own. Listening to the Nagra tapes, you can sort of hear the frustration Paul and George have that John had no real idea how he wanted the song to go. Not every idea Paul and George had worked, but their contributions -the harmonies and the guitar licks- essentially made "Don't Let Me Down" the song we all know and love.
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  3. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    Yes, it was a very strange argument, which overlooked the most obvious fact: The song was indeed recorded and intended to appear on the Sgt Pepper album. Then it was decided to NOT include it (and the reason for its removal is irrelevant to any argument), and George submitted Within You Without You as a replacement.

    And no one was asking Giles to fit the song into the middle of the running order of the album. But just like Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, it deserved placement on the extra discs in some form. Those latter two songs were also recorded for the album but ultimately NOT included on it. So too for Only A Northern Songs. So if Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane were included in the Deluxe set, then Only A Northern Song should have been too. Those are the only three extra songs recorded during the Pepper sessions that were meant for the album, although they never made it onto the album in its final form.

    I also am not including Carnival Of Light as that was a special one-off that was never intended for the album. So I understand the reason for its omission.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  4. Six Bachelors

    Six Bachelors Troublemaking enthusiast

    The highlighted quotes in particular, to me, are utter garbage. One could argue that every take that wasn't the master take was rejected for the album but that didn't stop them celebrating those outtakes. Nothing that isn't on the original LP is on the original LP. This was a 50th anniversary reissue of the album with two discs of outtakes, a stereo remix and a surround mix of the LP versions and the SFF/PL 45. He even says he thinks it's a pretty good song. All the more reason to celebrate it now. A working version of OANS should have been on there. He's wrong.

    Everything I hear this guy say or read that he has said makes me believe more and more that he is totally the wrong guy for the job he has been given. It's nepotism. Nothing else.
  5. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    The line that I put in BOLD type says it all. Nicely stated.
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  6. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    If we look into Giles' comments to Olivia, it could be interpreted that she vetoed the song, with a helping hand from Giles. Maybe a promise for future use or some such thing. NOT including it certainly kept some some royalties from arriving at the Harrison household. Ron
  7. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    That might be indeed the case, as Giles sort of was trying to make up an excuse. But the way that Giles states it, it sounds more like he (Giles) convinced Olivia to go along with his veto. Giles himself says: " I said this to George’s wife, Olivia. “Why should we celebrate the fact that it was thrown off the album by making it an extra?” " So, to me, it sounds like Giles vetoed it first, and then went to get Olivia's permission to agree with him.

    We'll likely never know the true answer though
    WilliamWes likes this.
  8. RoryMcBride

    RoryMcBride Forum Resident

    I've not read all 12 pages of this thread but does anyone know who Eddie is? At 3:11 George sings "Take it Eddie! Eddie Eddie Eddie"
  9. We must resign ourselves to the fact that Only a Northern Song is not in the Sgt. Pepper set.

    When Giles puts together the Magical Mystery Yellow Submarine set, it will get treated as a "normal" track, and not an orphaned reject. Shockingly, most of the world won't mind, and associates it with Yellow Submarine, anyway.
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  10. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

  11. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident

    It was kind of treated like a normal track with Pepper - if by normal we mean how the Beatles were treated in Manilla
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  12. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly...

    "Ordinary song! Ordinary song!!!"
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  13. Six Bachelors

    Six Bachelors Troublemaking enthusiast

    When Giles tries to explain himself, he gets into a tangle and ends up saying things that make little sense. Looking on the bright side, it gives us something to discuss but it tends to create more frustration and doubt than it resolves.
  14. Mai Tem Baht

    Mai Tem Baht Forum Resident

    Just a guess, but it’s probably a reference to Eddie Calvert, a trumpet player who was quite famous in the UK in the 50s.
    John DeAngelis and RoryMcBride like this.
  15. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    It's Only A Northern Song just doesn't fit the spirit of Sgt. Pepper's.

    It's a great song and I do enjoy the random chaos of it all, it being out of tune/dissonant some of the time, and George being George. In some ways, it would fit the White Album, although I know the timing wasn't right.
    Louise Boat likes this.

    PIGGIES Forum Resident

    Along with John's Strawberry Fields Demo, I added the Anthology version of Northern Song to my Pepper outtakes collection, it belongs there as much as Strawberry Fields & Penny Lane
  17. Vinyl Socks

    Vinyl Socks Forum Resident

    Niles, Ohio
  18. Tristero

    Tristero Forum Resident

    They had largely abandoned psychedelia by the time they got to The White Album, so I really don't think It's Only A Northern Song would have fit in there sonically. Magical Mystery Tour might have been a better home for it.
    JDeanB likes this.
  19. RobNeil

    RobNeil Forum Resident

    Midlands, UK
    Never skipped by me.
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  20. WilliamWes

    WilliamWes Forum Resident

    New York
    I absolutely love "Only a Northern Song" and its cacophony of "noise" (actually it's fantastic early dissonant music) but we really should put this in perspective. Let's step way back for a moment.

    First and foremost, we're lucky the Beatles even existed and made a dozen amazing records.

    Secondly, we are lucky that they even bothered to celebrate 50 years for Sgt. Pepper because I try to keep reminding everyone, in the poll, 95% of us thought we would not get an enormous boxset or anything.

    Thirdly, in the last 6 months, it seems Beatle fans are grumpier than ever. The Beatles just can't do right and we must blame Giles over and over to feel better about it when in reality, we're lucky anything occurred like the Sgt Pepper box and the Christmas releases.

    Fourthly, we have to admit we are still absolutely obsessed with a never ending need for more and more Beatle product like we don't already have the greatest catalog of all-time in a number of editions and remasters. I'm including myself in this. It's like I just want more and more like we are all addicted. Now we expect a 50th deluxe box of every single album and if it doesn't happen we'll be throwing more fits.

    Fifthly, The Beatles did they're part, an enormous part, for this one world...in which we live in. LOL

    I still love talking about this stuff and try to accept the fan obsession because I love hanging out with Beatle fans here.

    Living in the material world indeed.
  21. Darrin L.

    Darrin L. Forum Resident

    ...and we also have the Songtrack remixed, stereo version.
  22. coniferouspine

    coniferouspine Forum Resident

    It's really negative, it's a downer, it's full of sour sentiment, and the rest of Pepper is simply NOT negative. In fact the album is overwhelmingly positive and affirming. With its dreary negativity, "Northern Song" sticks out like a sore thumb. Was the totally wrong vibe and tone for an album that they knew would be regarded as a huge statement. The song is George, bickering about publishing and airing dirty laundry about behind-the-scenes Beatle business. Well guess what George -- we love you man, but nobody cares about that, this is Pepper, this thing is bigger than you and your griping. Pepper was not the right time or place for it. Vibes are real, and OANS gives off a lot of dour vibes, and has terrible lyrics . Glad it stayed in the can. "Within You Without You" is light years better, that is George speaking directly from his heart to the Pepper audience/the world, and it's possibly even THE best musical thing that George ever did. And it says almost the same exact thing as "Northern Song" does in regards to McCartney and Lennon, and Harrison's business gripes -- about the people who gain the world and lose their soul, they don't know, they can't see, are you one of them? That's a big picture way of looking at the same issue. "Northern Song" is small time and petty, by comparison.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
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  23. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Well the premise (at least) of WYWY, She's Leaving Home and When I'm 64 is negative/dire too.
  24. jmxw

    jmxw Forum Resident

    ithaca, ny
    ... in the same way that we are celebrating Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever being thrown off the album by making them extras.

    Apparently there is some confusion about why Only A Northern Song is not considered part of that legacy whilst the other two are. That's the only thing that confuses me.

    I have to admit it does not make sense to me. You've added two other songs that were not on the record, so why not this one?

    I hope it doesn't sound like I am being anti-Giles, because I'm not. I just question his "answers" and would like either better answers or answers to follow-up questions... I still don't understand why OANS was not included at all... Personally, I think it does fit in with the "psychedelic" texture of the album. And conceptually it's not too far from the autobiographical bent of PL/SFF, except those two were looking back to the past whereas Only A Northern Song was more of the present...
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  25. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    It would have been so much easier for Giles to say: "Heck, I didn't realize that it was supposed to be on Pepper. Guess I should have asked someone... " ;)
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