Paul McCartney was “the cute Beatle,” Ringo Starr was “the funny Beatle,” and George Harrison was “the sequel Beatle.”
Continuations of stories are obviously common in movies, books, and TV shows. Not so much in the world of music, probably because modern pop and rock songs don’t tell full stories, but rather present feelings or an abstract situation. That didn’t stop George Harrison from revisiting some of his own most popular songs.
“This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)”
In 1975, Harrison released “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying).” It was last single ever released by Apple Records, the label started by the Beatles back when they were still together in the late ‘60s, and a release by a former Beatle made for a fitting bookend. It also harkens back to a Beatles song written and sung by Harrison, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The original featured intense guitar work by both Harrison and guest performer Eric Clapton, and so did “This Guitar,” with solos from Harrison and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis. The music sounds a little similar, with a structure, instruments, and certain musical motifs that recall “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
“Here Comes the Moon”
Another standout Harrison moment with the Beatles was his bright and optimistic 1969 song “Here Comes the Sun.” In 1979, he followed up the song about the sun with a song about, what else, the moon. While “Here Comes the Sun” definitely helped inspire “Here Comes the Moon,” Harrison was motivated to write it during a vacation in Maui, where he witnessed the near-simultaneous setting of the sun and the emerging of a full moon. “I laughed and thought it was about time someone, and it may as well be me, give the moon its due,” Harrison later said.
This 1976 tune is a sequel of sorts to Harrison’s first solo release, the #1 hit “My Sweet Lord.” Harrison was later for inadvertently stealing a melody from the 1963 Chiffons hit “He’s So Fine,” a legal battle that kept him in and out of courtrooms for half a decade. “This Song” heavily references that other song, not so much musically, but lyrically—Harrison didn’t want to get sued again, after all. (“This song has nothing tricky about it…doesn’t infringe on anyone’s copyright.”) Harrison took the self-deprecation one step further by making a music video for the song set in a courtroom.