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How tricky is it to work out George's harmonies? He’s always singing a third harmony that floats between Lennon and McCartney that can be really difficult to pin down.
It’s pretty tricky because they’re pretty subtle. In Please Please Me, he’s singing the low harmony while John’s doing that high falsetto that kind of cuts across two parts while Paul stays in the high register. But as the chord goes from E major to A major to B7, when he gets to the A Major he stays in the low note on the A, so it becomes a 7th of the B chord.
And he’s doing a lot of things like that, and they are quite hard to pick out. Your tendency is to go with the whole block of the chord, not to stay with a flat seventh or something. Some are more difficult that others. I think that on Yes It Is, the harmonies are incredible. They swap over the vocals, John goes underneath in the end and George and Paul go over him, and it’s just fantastic but it’s quite a difficult harmony to reproduce live.
That’s on of my favourites, I just think it’s absolutely stunning.
Again, some of it sticks on one note which isn’t that easy – it’s not as easy as it sounds – and then it jumps over John. There were so many people good at harmony in that set up, including George Martin. He was an expert at vocal arranger, as well as their ears being fantastic.
Do you play the SG all the way through Sergeant Pepper era songs as well?
I use it on Sergeant Pepper. I do have a Rocky, the Stat that George painted with his wife’s nail polish, but I tend not to use it. I stick with the SG, as I feel I can get more consistent sounds from that. And then I play the Telecaster. I’ve got a Japanese copy of the Rosewood Telecaster, it’s about 20 years old. It’s got quite valuable actually.
Apparently they’re very heavy?
They weight a ton and they don’t sustain very much. I’ve mucked about with the pickups and tried to get more sustain out of it. It’s alright if you’re playing stuff like Get Back or Don’t Let Me Down, but if you’re trying to do the solo on Come Together, it’s very tight on the high strings so it’s not ideal. I tend to pick up the SG maybe for that, so I can do it a more fluid fashion.
It looks good though!
It looks fantastic, and of course it’s so reminiscent of Let It Be. In fact it’s interesting with George Harrison. I think one thing to say about his generosity is that he gave away both the SG, he gave that to Badfinger, and the Telecaster, he gave that to Delaney and Bonnie. They both ended up being sold down the years, but he gave those wonderful guitars away. I think that says a lot about George, that he didn’t hoard all those guitars, he passed them on.