George Harrison

Beware of Darkness

Composed by George Harrison

Song Review by

"Beware of Darkness" is a foreboding ballad lyrically couched in George Harrison's trademark sense of dense, if not cerebrally opaque, imagery. There are some obvious social references such as "Beware of falling swingers/Dropping all around you" and "Beware of soft shoe shufflers/Dancing down the sidewalks." Likewise, the thinly veiled political commentaries warn "Beware of greedy leaders/They take you where you should not go." Deeper still is the introspective admonition to "Beware of the thoughts that linger/Winding up inside your head/While hopelessness surrounds you/In the dead of night." Tellingly, Harrison tucks the resolution "It can hit you/It can hurt you/Make you sore and what is more/That is not what you are here for" between the verses. The song was initially pitched in an acoustic form to producer Phil Spector during the spring of 1970 for possible inclusion on the artist's first post-Beatles outing, the following year's All Things Must Pass. This intimate and stripped-down reading can be heard on the highly recommended Beware of ABKCO bootleg CD issued in 1998. Interestingly, that title copped its name from an off-the-cuff ad lib that Harrison sings at the conclusion of the demo, and the acronym stands for Allan B. Klein Company -- a firm whose owner was the Beatles' recently acquired manager. It would resurface on the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh benefit soundtrack album with Leon Russell trading lead vocals with Harrison. Russell's version was available on his concurrent Leon Russell and the Shelter People release, while Marianne Faithfull, Concrete Blonde, and Spock's Beard are among those to have also reworked the tune. In 2002, it was additionally covered by Eric Clapton as part of his contributions to the Concert for George tribute.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
All Things Must Pass 1970 Beatles Catalog Mkt 3:51
The Concert for Bangladesh 1971 Sony Music Distribution
Concert For Bangladesh [Video/DVD] 1981
Various Artists
Paramount Records
Beware of ABKCO! 1994 Strawberry Recording Co
The Concert for Bangladesh [DVD] 2005 Rhino/Warner Bros.
The  Apple Years: 1968-75 2014 Apple / Capitol / Universal / Universal Music 3:51
blue highlight denotes editor's pick