George Harrison

Dark Horse

Composed by George Harrison

Song Review by

The title track to George Harrison's third post-Beatles long-player was also the first single gleaned from the platter, charting at a respectable number 15 in late 1974 while the artist concurrently embarked on his debut solo outing of North America. The driving rhythm reinforces the smarmy, if not somewhat defensive, lyrics. Their impact comes off more pointedly due to the decidedly hoarse (no pun intended) quality of Harrison's voice, marring much of the material on the album and subsequent tour. His underdog status had haunted him throughout his years as the second banana to John Lennon and Paul McCartney while in the Beatles. However, on his own, Harrison made a significant impact, as all four of his platters had landed within the Top Five -- including 1971's comparatively pricey All Things Must Pass and 1972's Concert for Bangladesh, both multi-disc sets. With this perspective, the words to "Dark Horse" can be interpreted as a sort of "I told you so" to critics -- if not his former bandmates. Another possible translation could have something to do with his tenuous personal life, as wife Patti Boyd had taken up with Harrison's longtime musical ally Eric Clapton -- for whom the latter had penned a number of rock classics, such as "Layla" and "Easy Now." After several years of conflict, the opening lines "You thought that you knew who I was and when/But it looks like you've been foolin' you again" seem to address the situation, not to mention the searing "You thought you had got me in your grip/Baby looks like you was not so smart." Instrumentally, Harrison is accompanied by a sizable coterie, including Andy Newmark (drums), Willie Weeks (bass), Billy Preston (electric piano), Jim Keltner (hi-hat cymbals), and Robben Ford (guitar). The credits give props to Harrison's future bride, Olivia Arias-Trinidad, under the moniker "blissed out." When the 7" single was released, the B-side contained the non-LP "I Don't Care Anymore," and the promotional issue offered up a rare mono edit slimmed from nearly four minutes down to two minutes and 48 seconds.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Dark Horse 1974 Beatles Catalog Mkt 3:54
The Best of George Harrison 1976 Capitol/EMI Records / Capitol 3:54
Live in Japan 1992 Dark Horse
Pirate Songs 1995 VigoTone 4:18
The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 2004 Parlophone
The  Apple Years: 1968-75 2014 Apple / Capitol / Universal / Universal Music 3:53
blue highlight denotes editor's pick