George Harrison

Wah-Wah

Composed by George Harrison

Song Review by

A distant second banana to the Lennon and McCartney songwriting team in the Beatles, George Harrison busted loose on his massive three-album solo release All Things Must Pass, comprised predominantly of songs passed over by the group. "Wah Wah" is a glorious rocker built around a bluesy guitar riff. Harrison spends most of the song at the top of his singing range, almost drowned out by the Phil Spector trademark Wall of Sound production, creating tension. It's as edgy as anything Harrison ever sang while in the Beatles, if not more so. The lyrics come across as mostly nonsense, sung for the sheer joy of singing: "Wah-wah, you made me such a big star/Being there at the right time/Cheaper than a dime/Wah-wah, you've given me your wah-wah, wah-wah." However, there seems to be a message of some substance hidden under the pure phonetic exuberance; like much of the record, the song has a simple, spiritual sentiment: "Now I don't need no wah-wah's/And I know how sweet life can be/If I keep myself free -- of wah-wah." Regardless of what the "wah-wah" is specifically -- the only thing that comes to mind is the well-known guitar effect pedal of the same name -- it represents anything that one feels he needs to get by in life, be it a drug, religion, etc.; Buddhism calls for a letting go of any dependency. The Spector production on "Wah Wah" is thick and predictably dense, filled with distorted guitars, slide guitars, wah-wah pedal guitars (of course), horns, strings, multiple drummers, percussion, and multi-layered vocals. The effect is of a driving, majestic song on the edge of being out of control. It teeters even closer to destruction on the live recording The Concert for Bangladesh (1971).

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
All Things Must Pass 1970 Beatles Catalog Mkt 5:38
The Concert for Bangladesh 1971 Capitol 3:30
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 5:37
blue highlight denotes editor's pick