Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not Guilty

Well, we've had a couple interesting adventures chez Meg today. For one thing, the internet has been out most of the day, which is why this is going up late. Mr. Megan has spent the last several hours fixing it, and thank God for that. Secondly, I'm typing with one hand thanks to an idiotic kitchen injury I gave myself a little while ago. How idiotic? As idiotic as sticking my finger in an immersion blender. The damned thing will not clot. So let me type something super brief and one-handed for this HarriSunday entry, hopefully not bleeding all over Ripley, my pretty little laptop. Let's listen to the circa-White Album recording of "Not Guilty."

"But Meg!" you say. "'Not Guilty' wasn't on the White Album! George released it 11 years later on the 1979 George Harrison album! In fact, Steve Winwood played on that track!" True that, clever and exclamation-prone reader. But the song dates back to the Beatles' Maharishi retreat in India in 1968. And unlike some songs originally demoed for possible inclusion on the White Album (like Paul's probably inferior "Junk" and "Teddy Boy"), "Not Guilty" very nearly made it. Something like 3 days were spent in the studio on it, and it's take 102 that was eventually released on Anthology 3. I've still never read exactly why, after devoting this much time to it, they went ahead and cut it. I mean, it's better than "Piggies." (And much else too.)

Anyway, the version that might have made the White Album relies on a contemptuously breezy vocal and blistering fuzzy electric guitar work, both from George. Ringo makes the most of those word-spitting parts in the verses with some solid energized drumming-- and he's the one to lead the band into the brief and weird (and, if I'm honest, gratuitous-sounding) waltz section in the middle. We've also got Paul on bass and John on keyboard here, and this during the White Album sessions, when the band playing together was by no means a sure thing.

When George found the track again years later, he reworked it to be more acoustic and more reliant on '70s-esque keyboard work. (And yes, that's Steve Winwood playing the harmonium.) In my opinion, this smooth-as-hell '70s sound hasn't aged as well as the rough-edged '60s guitar sound, and frankly, it makes an angry song sound a bit too polite. But here it is anyway, for comparison purposes.

And now I really must sign off. This has already taken a really long time to write with just the one unbloodied hand....

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