The Beatles

Something

Song Review by

"Something" is unquestionably George Harrison's most famous composition. It is also one of the most popular Beatles ballads of all, reaching number one as part of a double-sided single (with "Come Together") in late 1969, and other than "Yesterday," it might be the most frequently covered Beatles composition. In short, it is a popular music standard, the first one George Harrison came up with (and one of the few). At a time when most of the Beatles' songs were dealing with non-romantic topics or presenting cryptic and allusive lyrics even when they were writing about love, "Something" was an unabashedly straightforward and sentimental love song inspired by Harrison's wife of the time, Patti. In fact, the opening line about the way his love moves was directly inspired by -- some would say lifted from -- the early James Taylor tune "Something in the Way She Moves," recorded for the Beatles' label, Apple Records. In its classic pop melody, "Something" could have been (but was not) the work of Lennon-McCartney, the principal hook being the tangy curling, ascending guitar line that opens the song and reappears throughout the track. Its appeal to middle-of-the-road pop listeners was ensured by a rather gushing string arrangement by George Martin. Although for the most part the song is lighthearted and confident, a slightly more ambiguous element is introduced by the soaring bridge, Harrison posing questions about whether the love will grow and answering that he doesn't know. An early demo version (available on Anthology 3) contains a new verse with a counter-melody placed where the instrumental break occurs on the official take, although it was wise to omit these lines since they're superfluous and don't really add any meaning to the song. Oddly, Harrison didn't seem to know what he had with "Something" at first, offering it to Joe Cocker to record before deciding to do it with the Beatles on Abbey Road. Cocker's version came out in late 1969, certainly among the first (and possibly the very first) of an army of covers of "Something" recorded by artists as diverse as Ray Charles (whom Harrison had in mind as the singer when he wrote it), Elvis Presley, and the O'Jays. Like "Yesterday," the song was easily adapted into the repertoire of popular musicians of all kinds, including easy listening singers and instrumental jazz players. Frank Sinatra also recorded it.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Abbey Road 1969 Apple Records / Capitol
No Image 1969 Apple Records
1967-1970 1973 Apple Records 3:03
The Best of George Harrison 1976 Capitol / EMI Records 3:03
No Image 1977 Capitol 3:03
Documents, Vol. 6 1991 Oh Boy 5:26
No Image 1993 Big Music 3:23
CD Singles Collection 1993 Capitol 3:02
No Image 1994 Big Music 5:41
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 3:03
Anthology 3 1996 Apple / Capitol 3:18
1 2000
1
Capitol 3:01
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 3:02
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 3:02
1962-1970 2010 EMI / Parlophone 3:02
Anthology Highlights 2011 EMI 3:16