- George Harrison – lead and rhythm guitars, lead vocals
- John Lennon – piano
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Ringo Starr – drums
Something, which Frank Sinatra once referred to as as his favorite Lennon/McCartney song, is actually one of the gems George Harrison wrote toward the end of his carrer with The Beatles - a song so perfect in its composition and execution that, by 1969, it put him on par with the legendary songwriters that were his bandmates, Lennon and McCartney.
Something came out on Abbey Road and was later released as a single. It was his first A-side single composition, and one of the first single releases by the Beatles of a song already publicly available on an LP. (The same was true of the other side of the single, Come Together, which was also on Abbey Road.)
Something was the only George Harrison composition to top the charts in the US while he was in the Beatles. The song is widely regarded as the best he ever wrote, though Here Comes the Sun, also on Abbey Road, has come to be regarded as another top-tier Harrison classic.
Something has been covered by 150 or more singers and groups, including some of the top performers of the day. It is the most covered Beatles song after Paul McCartney's Yesterday.
George started writing the song during breaks in the recording sessions for The White Album in 1968. The melody came to him first. He said that the words came hard to him, other than the opening line, "Something in the way she moves," which was also a James Taylor song. When he tried to change those words because of their similarity to James Taylors', it did not work for him. He said, "So in the end I just left it as that, and just called it Something." After putting the song "on ice" for six months, Harrison recorded a demo on February 25, 1969. (He turned 26 on that day.) This track can be found on Anthology 3. The demo was made to offer the song to Jackie Lomax (who turned it down) and then to Joe Cocker, who recorded it.
Something is, above all, a simple, innocent and sentimental song about a love. This took fans back to an earlier, simpler era of the Beatles, before they started taking up issues unrelated to love, and using psychedelic imagery, weird allusions and cryptic phrases. In part, the success of the song comes from its simplicity, even though George originally was suspicious about how good it was, since the melody had come to him so easily.
George's wife, Patti, wrote in her autobiography that George had told her it was inspired by her. Harrison later denied that, saying that he was just trying to follow in the tradition of Ray Charles. Lennon went on record as saying that Something was "about the best rack on the album, actually." Paul said it was the best song George had written. Frank Sinatra thought Something to be
the greatest love song ever written.
In 1970, Something received the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. The BBC ranked it 64th in its list of greatest songs. BMI named it 17th most performed song in the 20th century, and Rolling Stone put it at number 273 of its 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Something was recorded on April 16, 1969 and then again on May 2 & 5. Two more sessions were dedicated to the number on July 11 and 16, with a final one on August 15. There were a total of 52 takes: Thirteen on April 16, and 39 more on May 2. Overdubs were added in July and August. In April, no vocals were recorded. Harrison played lead guitar; Paul played bass, as usual; Ringo was on drums; and George Martin added piano. John Lennon was present, but did not play during the session. The May 2 session turned out to be the defining day for the backing track. Lennon played piano, and Billy Preston added Hammond Organ. The song was nearly 8 minutes long by this time, mainly due to an extended coda improvised by Lennon. In July George recorded his lead vocal part and Paul added back-up vocals and bass. The song was pared down to around 5½ minutes. With only one track left (for the orchestra overdubs), George wanted to re-do his guitar solo. He took the risk of recording it over the orchestra on August 15, in just one take. Many say it was his personal best as a lead guitarist.
Something had a promotional video, like other singles released by the Beatles in the late period. It was made just before the breakup of the band had become official. It shows each member of the group separately, with his wife, at his house, walking around. The separate clips are put together in a video collage.