George Harrison said he originally wrote his 1970 song “All Things Must Pass” with a specific tune by The Band. Then George would hear a member of the group sing his title track whenever he heard it.
The Beatle hung out with Bob Dylan and The Band in 1968
In November 1968, The Band invited George to stay with them and Bob Dylan in Woodstock, New York. George explained the experience in a 1987 interview with Timothy White of Musician Magazine.
“You can still play ‘Stage Fright’ and ‘Big Pink’ to this day, and while technology has changed, these records feel beautifully conceived and uniquely refined,” George said of The Band. “They had great melodies, played in a great spirit and with humor and versatility.
“I knew these guys at that time and I think it was Robbie Robertson who invited me. He said: “You can stay with Albert [Grossman, Dylan’s manager]. He has the big A house.’ I hung out with them and Bob.”
George said it was an awkward time for Dylan and The Band, not just because Dylan was still in his self-imposed exile after his 1966 motorcycle accident. George claimed that Dylan and Grossman were at odds over the “crisis” of Dylan’s management. He spent days with Dylan and nights with Grossman, listening to both sides of the “fight.”
At least George took a few songs from that experience.
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George wanted “All Things Must Pass” to sound like a band song
While at Woodstock, George managed to get Dylan to open up and they eventually wrote “I’d Have You Anytime” together.
Being with The Band and Dylan so much, the Beatle couldn’t help but be inspired.
“Artistically, I respected The Band immensely,” George said. “All the different guys in the group sang, and Robbie Robertson always said he was lucky because he could write songs for a voice like Levon’s. What a wise and generous attitude.
“The hard part is writing a song for yourself when you know you’re going to have to sing it. Sometimes I have a hard time singing my own stuff.”
George told White that one of The Band’s songs influenced “All Things Must Pass.” Although the tune didn’t come out exactly how George had hoped.
“‘The Weight’ was what I admired, there was something religious about it and a country feel, and that’s what I wanted,” George explained. “You absorb, then you interpret, and it doesn’t come out the way you want it to, but it gives you a starting point.
“We used to take that approach with The Beatles and say, ‘Who are we going to be today? Let’s pretend to be Fleetwood Mac!’ There’s a song on ‘Abbey Road’, ‘The Sun King’ that tried to do that. Back then “Albatross” was out with all the reverb on the guitar.
“So we said, ‘Let’s be Fleetwood Mac playing ‘The Albatross,'” just to get started. It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac, just like ‘All Things’ never sounded like The Band, but they were the starting point.”
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George also heard a member of The Band sing when he heard “All Things Must Pass.”
George was listening to The Band’s The Weight while he was writing All Things Must Pass. Later, after recording the song, George would always hear a member of the band sing it.
In a 2000 interview with Billboard, George said, “I wrote it after that [the Band’s 1968] Album Music From Big Pink; Whenever I heard that song in my head, I always heard Levon Helm sing it!”
George went on to talk about “All Things Must Pass” in his 1980 memoir, me mine. He wrote: “When I was writing ‘All Things Must Pass’ I was trying to do a sort of Robbie Robertson Band song and that’s what it ended up being…”
George has had many influences throughout his long career. Those influences might not come through in his songs the way he wanted, but they were there. Lurking between the lyrics one can forever hear how much George loved Dylan, The Band and all his other idols.
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https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/george-harrison-said-wanted-all-things-must-pass-sound-like-band-song.html/ George Harrison said he wanted “All Things Must Pass” to sound like a band song