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George Harrison “My Sweet Lord”
Writer(s): George Harrison (see lyrics here)
First charted: 11/28/1970
Peak: 14, 10 AC, 16 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.9 UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)
Radio Airplay (in millions): 3.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 6.0
Review: While George Harrison’s songwriting talents were overshadowed during his stint with the Beatles by bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney, TB-122 he was the first to have a hit as an ex-Beatle. RS500 That song, “My Sweet Lord,” was nearly given away – and it was later claimed to have never belonged to Harrison in the first place.
Harrison originally gave the song to Billy Preston, who was due to release a single of the song in September 1970. When it was withdrawn, Harrison released his own version. BR1-286 Harrison had wanted to write an uplifting song and turned to the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ “Oh Happy Day” for inspiration. Wary of committing to a specific religious belief, HL-59 Harrison came up with what he called “a simple idea of how to do a Western pop equivalent of a mantra, which repeats holy names over and over again.’” HL-59
The result was a “hook…as catchy as anything he ever came up with in The Beatles.” BBC However, publishers of the 1963 Chiffons’ hit “He’s So Fine” felt like the hook wasn’t Harrison’s to use and sued him for copyright infringement. BBC A March 6, 1971 article in Billboard magazine confirmed that Harrison’s royalties had been halted worldwide until the case was settled. BR1-286
It wasn’t until 1976 BBC that a judge ruled that George was innocent of stealing KL-168-9 but was guilty of “unconscious plagiarism.” BBC Bright Tunes music got more than a half million dollars from the settlement. SF George has responded saying, “I still don’t understand how the courts aren’t filled with similar cases…as 99 per cent of popular music is reminiscent of something or other.” HL-59
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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.