May 25 – George Prayed For Peace, Apple For #1 Hits

They weren’t quite John, Paul and Ringo… but drummer Jim Keltner, pianist Nicky Hopkins, organ & synth player Gary Wright as well as bassist Klaus Voortman made for a pretty stellar backing band to George Harrison…as Britain was reminded on this day in 1973.

That was when they got to hear the lead track off his third post-Beatles album (that is after All Things Must Pass and the live Concert for Bangladesh), Living in the Material World. That was the great “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)”, which those of us on this side of the Atlantic got to get the single a couple of weeks before, although oddly it was just a tiny bit different than the original. Capitol, who put it out in North America, decided to speed it up just a tiny bit to make it sound a little perkier than the album cut or British single issued by Apple.

Around that time, Harrison was deeply involved in the Eastern spiritualism movement and believed in a universality of God and faith, which he clearly tried to demonstrate on the single. “I want to be God-conscious. That’s my only real ambition, everything else is secondary,” he said. He also added “sometimes you open up your mouth and you don’t know what you are going to say, and whatever comes out is a starting point. If that happens and you get lucky, it can usually be turned into a song. This song is a prayer and a personal statement between me and the Lord and whoever likes it.”

A lot of people did like it. It’s hard not to like his mix of outward (“give me peace on earth”) and inward (“My Lord, please take hold out my hand that I might understand”) looking prayers or wishes, coupled with a melody Pop Matters call “effervescent”. The incredible slide guitar playing of his, two tracks overdubbed, doesn’t hurt at all either! Little wonder Eric Clapton ranks it as one of his two favorite Harrison songs.

An indication of the control record companies have, or at least had, was that since Apple still controlled pretty much all things Beatle in the UK at least, they chose the exact release dates and picked a time for George after the record was ready, but sufficiently long enough to not possibly cannibalize sales of Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway, and early enough as to not deter mass sales of the two Beatles “greatest hits” albums (the “red” and “blue” ones) to come out that summer.

That strategy worked, as the song went to #1 in the U.S. – his second, after “My Sweet Lord” . Curiously, it knocked McCartney and Wings “My Love” out of the #1 spot, making a Beatle deposing another Beatle at the top. Then to top that off, Billy Preston, Beatles’ friend and late in their career, keyboard player, knocked Harrison off the top with his “Will it Go Round in Circles?”. At the end of June that year, the three songs held down the three top spots on the charts.

Elsewhere, for some reason the reception wasn’t as warm, though it was a big hit in most Western places. It peaked at #10 in his homeland, and #9 in both Canada and Australia.


15 thoughts on “May 25 – George Prayed For Peace, Apple For #1 Hits

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    I do like this song…and the fact it knocked out McCartney’s My Love (my least favorite hit by him) just makes it that much better! I do like this song because it really showed what George was about. Too bad Apple wasn’t managed better…they had a great roster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. they did indeed…seems like if Epstein had managed to hold on a few years later maybe he’d have had a role and it might have been run a bit better. I don’t mind ‘My Love’ (I like it better than most of his 80s output, especially his duets) but it’s a comparatively minor one for him, I’d agree. Harrison’s was far better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        Yea I think with Epstein it might have been huge. They certainly would not have let all of the freeloaders in and you would have no Klein.


    1. definitely agree with you on George. Billy, well I like the song but it might not be one of the real strong toppers of ’73 (strangely, to me, ’72 was a brilliant year for singles…so many good ones… but ’73 was maybe the weakest of the decade) . What’s your take on the McC one – My Love’?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Paul is usually far too saccharine for me but this one- ‘My Love’ is sweet enough without going full tilt into the treacly silly luvvy Lindy-Lou stuff. If I spin it a couple of times more today I’m sure I’ll change my mind!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! Superb song and brilliant playing. If there was anything at all that would make me want to play electric guitar, it would be to learn how to play slide guitar like him

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m more inclined to air drum (on my thighs or the dash) if I’m a passenger, LOL…which is odd because I have no real inclination to be a drummer (I did use to play keyboards a very little as a teen).

        Liked by 1 person

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