George Harrison's music, much like the former Beatles star himself, tended toward both the uplifting and the downbeat. Often in one song.

He relished taking the fight to liars, thieves, the unprincipled, politicians, record-label execs and other such scoundrels. But he also celebrated the light that surrounds it all and never stopped searching for the most personal kind of inner peace.

That's why he was initially attracted to Phil Spector – a producer who couldn't fathom a record without a cast of thousands – but also a Beatles-loving imitator in Jeff Lynne. They represented both of Harrison's musical impulses, as his essential dichotomies played out on vinyl.

Occasionally, he took it too far: Some of the songs were simply too big, some of the homilies too preachy, some of those loving looks back a bit too twee. There was a moment in the mid-'70s, as his personal and professional lives took a tumble, where he became darkly morose. There was a moment in the early-'80s where he simply lost his touch.

But, as always, light chased away the dark. In fact, three of his most celebrated albums followed some of his lowest moments: All Things Must Pass (after the Beatles imploded), Thirty Three and 1/3 (after everything else did) and Cloud Nine (after giving up on music altogether).

Tracks from those projects play a prominent role in the following list of All 141 George Harrison Solo Songs Ranked Worst to Best. But we also included Traveling Wilburys songs in which Harrison played a key vocal role – either as main singer for the verses or bridge – since he was the de facto leader of that group.

Left out were a pair of early experimental albums, 1968's Wonderwall Music and 1969's Electronic Sound, since they weren't really song-based recordings. We also skipped fragments like "A Bit More of You," which is only a reprise of the hit "You," and "It's Johnny's Birthday," which is only a snippet from a series of Side Five and Six-concluding jams on All Things Must Pass.

Here's how the rest lined up on our list of All 141 George Harrison Solo Songs Ranked From Worst to Best.

141. "Plug Me In"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

These jams are meandering, musically pointless filler material ...

140. "Out of the Blue"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

... that's really unworthy of concluding such an important album ...

139. "Thanks for the Pepperoni"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

... with the only saving grace being this half-chuckle of a title ...

138. "I Remember Jeep"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

... and the fact that sidemen from these sessions eventually coalesced into Derek and the Dominos.

137. "It Is 'He' (Jai Sri Krishna)"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

His heart was certainly in the right place. Harrison said he was inspired toward "It Is 'He'" after touring temples with Ravi Shankar at the holy Hindu city of Vrindavan, a day the former Beatles star later described as "my most fantastic experience." Unfortunately, this largely unlistenable chant-based oddity is another experience entirely.

136. "This Guitar Can't Keep From Crying"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

A superfluous reworking of a Beatles tune, meant to convey a bitter resentment at the way he'd been treated during a difficult 1974 North American tour – the first of its kind by a former member of the Fab Four. Instead, "This Guitar Can't Keep From Crying" served as a signpost for this album's creatively bankrupt, dead-end vibe.

135. "Baltimore Oriole"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

The sessions were so troubled and drawn out that it eventually drove Harrison from Warner Bros. Records. (Finally released in June 1981, the project first got underway back in October 1979.) His label ultimately ordered Harrison to drop four of the original songs, saying they were too downbeat. The schmaltzy "Baltimore Oriole" was one of two Hoagy Carmichael covers — along with "Hong Kong Blues" — that somehow made the executives' cut.

134. "Bye Bye, Love"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

This soap opera of a track features rewritten words highlighting his marital problems – and truly bizarre rumors that both best friend Eric Clapton and his new love interest, Harrison's soon-to-be-ex Pattie Boyd, took part in the session.

133. "Hottest Gong in Town"
From: Songs by George Harrison Volume 2 EP (1992)

A forgotten song from a (justly) forgotten film, "Hottest Gong in Town" found Harrison in "Answer's at the End" scat mode for a song in the style of the fun pre-Beatles big-band leader Cab Calloway. Only this rare cut is not really fun at all. When Shanghai Surprise failed at the box office, Harrison pulled the plug on the soundtrack, too.

132. "This Guitar (Can't Keep from Crying) [Platinum Weird Version]"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (2014 reissue)

Slightly better is the '90s-era rerecording with Dave Stewart, created to promote a new musical side project called Platinum Weird that the former Eurythmics member humorously said dated back to the early '70s.

131. "I Don't Care Anymore"
From: Dark Horse (2014 reissue)

A disheveled bonus track – made odder still by the chatty Jew's harp – that belied the very real pain Harrison was enduring during a particularly bad stretch both professionally and personally.

130. "Zig Zag"
From: Cloud Nine (2004 reissue)

More rooty-toot faux jazz.

129. "My Sweet Lord (2000)"
From: All Things Must Pass (2001 reissue)

The original version of "My Sweet Lord" featured a cast of thousands and enough reverb to bring down the Abbey Road studios. All anybody remembered, however, was the lawsuit. So, years later, Harrison stripped all of that away – including the call-and-response part that got him in trouble in the first place – for a competently conveyed (though completely unneeded) remake.

128. "Grey Cloudy Lies"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Extra Texture was a grinding, relentlessly downbeat album, where even the name has come to feel like a cruel joke. A better title might have come from this, one of its most wrist-slashingly sad songs.

127. "Shanghai Surprise"
From: Cloud Nine (2004 reissue)

Harrison bravely managed the vaguely Asiatic vibe of this title song from the failed movie project starring newlyweds Madonna and Sean Penn. The question remains as to why he would try.

126. "Hong Kong Blues"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

Same.

125. "World of Stone"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Nowhere does Harrison sound more stung and unsure of things. It wasn't just the tour or his marriage or his new music that he was worried about. "World of Stone" finds him questioning everything, up to and including his faith.

124. "Learning How to Love You"
From: Thirty-Three and a Third (1976)

This Fender Rhodes-driven lullaby closes out a cheery, bounce-back project on an oddly somnolent note.

123. "Mama You've Been on My Mind"
From: Early Takes: Volume 1 (2012)

Harrison released some transcendent Bob Dylan covers over the years. His whispery, too-reverent take on a leftover from 1964's Another Side of Bob Dylan isn't one of them.

122. "Flying Hour"
From: Somewhere in England (2004 reissue)

Harrison hoped to find a home for this song, which featured George Harrison-era guest Steve Winwood, on his next album – but Warner Bros. rejected his initial track listing. In this case, it's probably for the best since "Flying Hour" traces the same be-in-the-moment recommendation that was better made on 1973's "Be Here Now." Really, the most interesting thing is a liner-notes appearance by cowriter Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople and Bad Company. That's a creative side trip that might have been worth exploring.

121. "The Answer's at the End"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

One of many songs sparked by various so-called "Crispisms" found engraved around Harrison's 19th-century digs at Friar Park, which was originally owned by Sir Frank Crisp. Harrison ended up offering some kind advice, encouraging us to not to "be so hard on the ones that you love," but it's always felt more like a personal plea.

120. "Art of Dying"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Turns out not every studio capture on a massive three-disc, 23-track explosion of a debut album is going to be a winner either.

119. "His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen)"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

The only two songs that broke this album's relentlessly elegiac mold were actually older efforts: the thunderous "You," a leftover track from a scrapped 1971 Ronnie Spector solo album, and this jokey track – which had been recorded the year before with Billy Preston, Andy Newmark and "Legs" Larry Smith of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

118. "Dear One"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

As with "See Yourself," found later in our list of All 141 George Harrison Solo Songs Ranked Worst to Best, "Dear One" is dedicated to guru Paramahansa Yogananda. The difference was a far more pedestrian construction that probably owes to Harrison having fashioned this tune basically by himself.

117. "Hear Me Lord"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison tried to dress up his latest sermon with all manner of studio, musical and even rhythmic tricks. It got big – really big – but ultimately didn't signify much.

116. "Baby Don't Run Away"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Gone Troppo was a surprisingly cheery, very inward set of songs – the product a period in which Harrison found a new center within his marriage and the birth of a child. Then there's this song. Even Preston, who was always quick with a smile, is unable to save the maudlin, strangely misplaced "Baby Don't Run Away."

115. "Ding Dong, Ding Dong"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

On Dark Horse, even his attempt at writing a holiday classic ends up taking on a strikingly dispirited undertone. Lyrics like "ring out the old, ring in the new" collide with an overall feeling of doom as Harrison weathered a season of loss.

114. "Here Comes the Moon"
From: George Harrison (1979)

Seriously? Another Beatles redo?

113. "Poor Little Girl"
From: Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989 (1989)

Harrison recorded two new songs with Jeff Lynne for this latter-day compilation, the rather nondescript "Poor Little Girl" and the much better "Cockamamie Business." They taped this in the balmy days of summer 1989 at George's home studio at Friar Park, but seriously, that saxophone player seems to be having an almost uncomfortably great time.

112. "Teardrops"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

Harrison's transparent attempt at writing a "hit" and the first sign of what will go so badly wrong on the succeeding Gone Troppo. Jeff Lynne, send help.

111. "Breath Away From Heaven"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

An angular, frankly off-putting ballad. One of Harrison's most consistently rewarding albums almost fell apart before it reached "Got My Mind Set on You."

110. "Rocking Chair in Hawaii"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Scarred and feeling his age, Harrison had every right to this snoozy blueser. But it's hardly better than the similarly snoozy bluesers that his buddy Eric Clapton was trafficking in during the late '70s.

109. "That Which I Have Lost"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

A feather-light exhortation toward higher consciousness that could just as easily been about those pain-in-the-rear guys from Warner Bros, too.

108. "I Really Love You"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Harrison always loved digging up old songs. This either worked spectacularly well (see "Got My Mind Set on You," found later in our list) or about like this one does.

107. "Soft Touch"
From: George Harrison (1979)

Harrison sketched this out on stationery from the Caneel Bay Plantation in the Virgin Islands, while on vacation with his new girlfriend Olivia in 1976. But the song's tropical feel, powered along by a melody based on the horn line from 1970's "Run of the Mill," didn't fit Thirty Three and 1/3. He held it over for the follow-up, where "Soft Touch" paired nicely with a set of songs grounded in warm contentment.

106. "Circles"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Harrison's initial take on "Circles" – recorded on a warbling organ as the Beatles apparently continued a conversation – was basically forgotten as they demoed 27 songs during May 1968 sessions held at his Esher bungalow. Nearly 20 of them ended up on the White Album, while "Circles" gathered dust until Harrison finally returned to it 14 years later. Turns out the rest of the Beatles were right.

105. "Hari's on Tour (Express)"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

On an album where Harrison begins to slip into an awful mid-decade depression, you take your offbeat collaborations with some Los Angeles jazz-rock aces where you can get them.

104. "Brainwashed"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

The title track from a surprisingly robust posthumous LP oversaw by Lynne and son Dhani Harrison gave George Harrison one more chance to stick it to dumbasses, and he took it.

103. "Maya Love"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

Harrison showed he can also adapt the country-blues vibe of 1970's "For You Blue" to Hinduism.

102. "Tears of the World"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (2004 reissue)

It's unclear why this ended up on an expanded look back at Thirty Three & 1/3, since "Tears of the World" was recorded four years later during sessions for Somewhere in England. Sounds like it, too, as Harrison settled into the latter project's renewed penchant for off-putting preachiness.

101. "Pisces Fish"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Brainwashed threatened to lose all momentum as "Pisces Fish" abruptly downshifted after a pair of opening rockers. Thankfully, its rustic peacefulness became almost hypnotic, then a jangly bridge parted the clouds.

100. "Unconsciousness Rules"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

In which an aging former Beatle complains about kids going to discotheques. Also: Get off his lawn!

99. "Can't Stop Thinking About You"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Harrison just sounds broken on this song.

98. "Soft-Hearted Hana"
From: George Harrison (1979)

Conversely, he rarely sounded like he was having more of a blast than on this fun-house ride of a song. Inspiration reportedly came courtesy of hallucinogenic mushrooms eaten while vacationing on Maui, home to a remote town called Hana where Harrison owned a vacation spot.

97. "Greece"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

There are a couple of near misses on Gone Troppo, including this romantic, dobro-driven track. "Greece" would have been a touching success but for some needless spoken-word references to Greek-related esoterica.

96. "Gone Troppo"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Here's another one. Harrison took his title-track tribute to a newly purchased island retreat off the coast of Australia too far when he added a few lines of pidgin English — ruining a song that undulates with a delightful sense of freewheeling promise courtesy of producer Ray Cooper's marimbas.

95. "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

There's a sweet nostalgia to this but not much more.

94. "Inside Out"
From: The Traveling Wilburys' Vol. 3 (1990)

Harrison and company returned to one of his favorite topics – ecology and environmental issues – when gathering for this supergroup's second album. "Inside Out," which found Harrison showcased vocally on the bridge, was the very first song the Traveling Wilburys worked on during sessions that ultimately produced the jokingly titled Vol. 3. Successes the remaining members had here encouraged them to go on without the late Roy Orbison.

93. "Let It Be Me"
From: Early Takes: Volume 1 (2012)

The Everly Brothers scored a hit with this song in 1959, at a point when the Beatles were absorbing everything that arrived from American shores. Still inspired, Harrison almost – not quite, though – matched their hushed fragility with the lyric.

92. "Never Get Over You"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Not a terrible tune so much as the best example of how this album's second side isn't quite as strong as the deeply moving first one.

91. "See Yourself"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Sketched out in response to public criticism when Paul McCartney admitted to trying LSD in the '60s, the time signature-shifting "See Yourself" belatedly paired elliptical thoughts on self-realization with some noodly time-specific synthesizers.

90. "Save the World"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

This is the most fun you'll ever have with a song about environmental collapse, nuclear holocaust, the vanishing rainforest, atomic waste and the diminishing whale population.

89. "Horse to the Water"
From: Jools Holland's Small World, Big Band (2001)

Harrison takes one last opportunity to remind us that we're all really jerks deep down before exiting life's stage.

88. "Maxine"
From: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (2007)

Fresh off their surprising achievement in finishing Brainwashed, Lynne and Dhani Harrison completed a leftover Wilburys track to give fans one more lead vocal from George Harrison. In his absence, Lynne added his own (suitably ringing) guitar solo.

87. "Blood from a Clone"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

If you don't listen too closely, this is a gangly little goof of a song. That must have been what happened with Warner Bros. – since the lyrics twist the shiv mercilessly.

86. "Marwa Blues"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Always a diffident star, Harrison released only a single official instrumental during his lifetime (excluding his first two experimental solo LPs, which were primarily instrumental affairs). Brainwashed uncovered one more, and it turned out to be a deeply emotional Grammy-winning exploration on the slide.

85. "True Love"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Harrison makes his first – but, as we've unhappily already heard, not his last – pass at the Great American Songbook. Unlike the Hoagy Carmichael covers on Somewhere in England, however, Cole Porter fit just fine on the determinedly upbeat Thirty Three & 1/3.

84. "Try Some, Buy Some"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

If this comes off like a lesser leftover from All Things Must Pass, that's because it basically is. "Try Some, Buy Some" was written during the same period then worked up for Ronnie Spector's subsequent comeback album, with husband Phil Spector again producing. Harrison returned to the song a couple of years later and simply recorded his voice over hers on the existing tapes.

83. "Pure Smokey"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

An entirely appropriate but sort of watery tribute to foundational hero Smokey Robinson, whose "You Really Got a Hold on Me" appeared on 1963's With the Beatles. Robinson later returned the favor, covering "And I Love Her" with the Miracles in 1970 and then "So Bad" as a solo artist on 2014's The Art of McCartney.

82. "Run So Far"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Harrison initially gave "Run So Far" to Eric Clapton, joining him on guitar and harmony vocals to complete the song for 1989's Journeyman. More than a dozen years later, Lynne and Dhani Harrison helped him take it back.

81. "Faster"
From: George Harrison (1979)

A burned-out Harrison took a year off in 1977 to pursue other things, including his passion for racing. It broke the creative dam, as "Faster" celebrated new friendships made while following the Formula 1 World Championship with drivers like Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda.

80. "Dream Away"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Gone Troppo ended with a small flourish, as Harrison tacked on this thinly veiled Beatles pastiche. The stage was already set, even if no one knew it just yet, for his return.

79. "That Is All"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

This song tried to work itself into the kind of emotional crescendo that's so closely associated with Phil Spector, but Harrison had long since jettisoned his All Things Must Pass coproducer. Instead, he flirts with easy listening.

78. "Where Were You Last Night?"
From: The Traveling Wilburys' Vol. 3 (1990)

Harrison again deftly handles the bridge on a grimy, cuckold's blues with Dylan, who took a more central singing role on the second Traveling Wilburys album. Unfortunately, both Vol. 3's singles failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, while "She's My Baby" stalled at No. 79 in the U.K. despite the presence of Gary Moore (alias "Ken Wilbury"). The group subsequently disbanded.

77. "Miss O'Dell"
From: Living in the Material World (2006 reissue)

Harrison cracks up about midway through this Bob Dylan pastiche and then never quite recovers. Each subsequent dissolution into the giggles makes the take more and more unusable. But, boy, it sure is fun.

76. "Wah-Wah"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison wrote "Wah-Wah" on the day he briefly walked out of an unhappy Beatles recording date, and it shows: This is the grittiest thing on All Things Must Pass. But it's more than another snippy put-down song. "Wah-Wah" also emerged as an article of solo faith: "I know how sweet life can be," Harrison cries out from the din, "so I'll keep myself free."

75. "Not Guilty"
From: George Harrison (1979)

One of the great lost Beatles tracks, "Not Guilty" was transformed from full-on rocker to an adult contemporary-ish solo take over the ensuing decade. Better is the Anthology 3 version from August 1968, though it features a shelved edit. Best of all is the take found on 2018's expanded White Album reissue, which restored the entire 4:28 running time.

74. "I Dig Love"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

It's a weird song. Maybe it's not even a song at all. But then what would overstuffed multidisc studio projects be without them? (While pondering, note Ringo Starr's crazy fills!)

73. "Far East Man"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

As with "Run So Far," "Far East Man" appeared first on Ron Wood's solo debut, I've Got My Own Album to Do, before seeing official release on a project by its coauthor. The busy Harrison was the only musician who took part in both sessions. That overstuffed schedule was to blame for his vocal issues during this era as he rushed to complete Dark Horse while also rehearsing for his first-ever U.S. tour.

72. "Dark Sweet Lady"
From: George Harrison (1979)

It's no exaggeration to say second wife Olivia Harrison saved George, as he threatened to descend into free-form '70s-era hedonism, and you hear his gratitude in every ardent line.

71. "Simply Shady"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

Songs like this found Harrison edging into the incisive, bare-knuckled anger so long associated with his bandmate John Lennon, even specifically referencing 1968's maharishi-hating "Sexy Sadie." But the seething "Simply Shady" couldn't be further away from Harrison's carefully curated image as a more spiritual figure within the Beatles dynamic. He badly needed a reset.

70. "Mystical One"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

"They say I'm not what I used to be," Harrison admitted to open "Mystical One" then went on to confirm how little that mattered to him by this point. It's a great sentiment, but this LP's contrived production values ultimately tell a different story.

69. "Sat Singing"
From: Songs by George Harrison EP (1988)

Another of the rejected songs for the Somewhere in England album, "Sat Singing" referred to a Sanskrit ritual in which adherents gather together to seek the "highest truth." Harrison's remarkable meditative surrender turned Lennon's old advice about "turning off your mind" into a moment of religious euphoria.

68. "Who Can See It?"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

As Harrison drew himself into a pained tremolo, it was easy to see why he thought a cross-generational collaboration with Roy Orbison would work so well in the Traveling Wilburys. If Orbison had covered "Who Can See It?," it would have been his forever.

67. "If You Believe"
From: George Harrison (1979)

Gary Wright earns a songwriting co-credit, but "If You Believe" certainly wasn't his first important contribution. In fact, Wright's presence spanned Harrison's solo career, from "My Sweet Lord" and "Be Here Now" to sessions for Cloud Nine and beyond. Wright returned to a song they'd never finished on the day Harrison died, eventually completing "To Discover Yourself" for his 2010 solo album, Connected.

66. "Any Road"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Harrison had some version of this song in his head since the early Wilburys era, and it retained their easy-go-lucky vibe – despite an edgier subject ("If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there") perhaps inspired by an exchange in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Harrison walks a fine line here, never giving into the impulse to insult or become facetious. After all, we've all taken a wrong turn or two.

65. "Ride Rajbun"
From: The Bunbury Tails (1992)

The first Harrison song to rely solely on Indian instrumentation since 1968's "The Inner Light" also recalls the Beatles' interest in nursery rhythms on songs like "Cry Baby Cry." Harrison, in fact, wrote "Ride Rajbun" for a U.K. kids program called Bunbury Tails; the show was directed by Bob Godfrey, who had collaborated on the Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie.

64. "Bangla Desh"
From: Single (1971)

Harrison's heart was in the right place, as he created the first charity pop single. Unfortunately, "Bangla Desh" feels only half drawn, likely because it was created in a such a hurry so that this stand-alone song could arrive before a huge benefit concert in support of the country's refugees. Harrison later admitted to composing "Bangla Desh" in "10 minutes at the piano," and, quite frankly, that's just how it sounds.

63. "Writing's on the Wall"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

Harrison's unknowing prescience in writing a song about losing friends too soon made this the perfect B-side for "All Those Years Ago," his reworked tribute to Lennon after his murder.

62. "Wake Up My Love"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

This album opener is as dated an item as any Beatles-related '80s release this side of McCartney's "Spies Like Us." Released as Gone Troppo's first single, it bears an uncomfortable resemblance (both in tone and in chart performance) to "Teardrops" from Somewhere in England. Neither reached the Top 40 in the U.S., and both finished unranked in the U.K. Beneath the sophomoric synth riff, however, there seems to be a good song struggling to get out.

61. "Apple Scruffs"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Written in tribute to the die-hards who would camp out at the Apple building or various studios hoping for a chance meeting with the band, but curiously played in the coffeehouse style favored by Dylan in his pre-electric days.

60. "Lay His Head"
From: B-side to "Got My Mind Set on You" (1987)

"Lay His Head" is such an inoffensive, easy-strumming song that it's difficult to understand how it ended up on the cutting-room floor when Warner Bros. blew up Somewhere in England.

59. "Someplace Else"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Lennon once referred to Lynne's ELO as "son of Beatles." No need for a DNA test on this tune.

58. "I Live for You"
From: All Things Must Pass (2001 reissue)

In search of bonus material for a look back at All Things Must Pass, Harrison returned to this devotional only to find that it included just his lead vocal and Pete Drake's weeping pedal steel. He and son Dhani Harrison competed "I Live for You" in 2000 but without answering the question of just who Harrison was singing to – heavenly God or an earthly goddess?

57. "The Light That Has Lighted the World"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

There's such a sadness to this song, in utter opposition to its title. But that doesn't mean it's not gorgeous.

56. "Dark Horse"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

Harrison goes down swinging as "Dark Horse" takes on critics, his ex and his former bandmates – possibly among others – but it's delivered with a ravaged voice. That made the bonus-cut earlier take, recorded before laryngitis, an utter revelation.

55. "Awaiting on You All"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Lennon didn't have a monopoly on tipping over sacred cows – or taking potshots at his former bandmates.

54. "Life Itself"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

Harrison swerved hard on this album, moving away from more mainstream recent themes on Thirty Three & 1/3 and George Harrison toward a hardened, often unpalatable religiosity. "Life Itself" stood out, not because it avoided such topics, but because his lyric featured the notable return to a message of unity across faiths that Harrison first espoused in "My Sweet Lord." It's probably the album's prettiest song, too.

53. "Living in the Material World"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

This title song deftly illustrated the dichotomy where Harrison so often found himself, as it moved from a galloping rock groove to delicate Indian segments. There's also a nice contrast between his life as rock star and the quest for something on a higher plane. All of that innate tension was released within his fiery solo.

52. "It's What You Value"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Some things are more precious than money. Like say, a Mercedes 450 SL – which is what Harrison reportedly used to pay drummer Jim Keltner after he appeared on the tour in support of Dark Horse.

51. "That's the Way It Goes"
From: Gone Troppo (1982)

Once again putting aside faith songs, Harrison became absorbed in a potent rumination on the slide. It was a notable departure for someone who had just returned to proselytizing on tracks like "That Which I Have Lost" — and the first hint of the more mainstream turn Harrison would take on Cloud Nine.

50. "Cockamamie Business"
From: Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989 (1989)

Often the extra tracks tacked onto hits packages sound like what they are: warmed-up leftovers. "Cockamamie Business" is different, a slinky groover that's just packed with attitude and mystery.

49. "Beautiful Girl"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Harrison started "Beautiful Girl" with the Beatles, creating something that writer Nicholas Schaffner rightly noted felt like a callback to Rubber Soul. He then tried out the still-unfinished song during May 1970 sessions for All Things Must Pass but ultimately didn't find a way to complete it until he fell in love with Olivia Arias. Billy Preston stopped by to add a remarkable turn at the organ.

48. "Unknown Delight"
From: Gone Troppo (1983)

Gone Troppo was ultimately defined by the use of then-hip synths, but it actually plumbed some notable emotional depths as Harrison spoke to a desire to be part of smaller things after the big things have let you down. (In this way, it could be favorably compared with the pastoral joys of John Lennon's earlier Double Fantasy.) That's particularly true of "Unknown Delight," this lovingly crafted song for Dhani. It remains a low-key triumph on what turned out to be one of George's most up-tempo, if instantly dated, releases.

47. "Deep Blue"
From: Living in the Material World (2006 reissue)

The jaunty folk-blues instrumentation – and an early mention of daylight – might have brought to mind his spring-heralding Beatles favorite "Here Comes the Sun." But "Deep Blue" was just that, an admission of grief and powerlessness as Harrison's beloved mother Louise succumbed to cancer.

46. "Just for Today"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Like "Be Here Now," only you could play this one on the radio.

45. "The Day the World Gets 'Round"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

A lovely song with a damaged heart, "The Day the World Gets 'Round" frames Harrison's crushing disappointment at the plight of refugees from the former East Pakistan. (They were first roundly ignored, only to be informed that funds raised at his benefit concert would be delayed by subsequent legal issues.) So basically "Imagine" but darker – way darker.

44. "Cloud 9"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Harrison brilliantly tangles with Clapton on a tough statement of purpose, the first begun for an album that would lead the dormant ex-Beatle back out of a musical wilderness.

43. "Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You)"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Another, and much better, nod toward Smokey Robinson.

42. "Devil's Radio"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

There's not much new here, as Harrison dunks on the paparazzi. But he rocks it all the way out.

41. "Be Here Now"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

This is the quiet, and then soaringly meditative, song Harrison was trying to make with the Beatles on the White Album's interminable "Long, Long, Long." Featuring a drone played on the tanpura, the title comes from one of Harrison's favorite books by Baba Ram Dass. He completed things with foresighted call for presence that arrived decades before the proliferation of cellphone distractions.

40. "Woman Don't You Cry for Me"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Harrison began work on "Woman Don't You Cry for Me" during his guest turn on a Delaney and Bonnie tour held after Abbey Road arrived but before the Beatles officially split. It briefly became a contender for All Things Must Pass, and then was shelved for years. At that point, this song's principal innovation had become old hat: Harrison tried out slide guitar for the first time while writing "Woman Don't You Cry for Me."

39. "So Sad"
From: Dark Horse (1974)

"So Sad" was actually an outtake from Living in the Material World, and it's got the same elegiac tone. Ringo Starr took part in the original session, where Harrison delved into the wreckage of his complicated relationship with Pattie Boyd. Perhaps thinking better of being so nakedly honest, Harrison sat on "So Sad" for a while. By the time it finally appeared on Dark Horse, Alvin Lee of Ten Years After had already released his own version.

38. "Fish on the Sand"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Ain't love grand?

37. "Tired of Midnight Blue"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Even "Tired of Midnight Blue" – a wonder of suspended animation that, along with "You," represented one of the few salvageable things on Extra Texture – was kind of a downer. Here's how Harrison himself described it: "You know those nights you go out and wish you hadn't? It's one of those."

36. "If Not For You"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

A cover from Bob Dylan's New Morning album, "If Not For You" became another intimate, atmospheric aside that nicely counterbalanced the excesses found elsewhere on All Things Must Pass. Alan White, who played drums during the sessions, said Lennon provided some uncredited guitar work. Later it was basically ruined by Olivia Newton-John.

35. "Sue Me, Sue You Blues"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

He'd released a multiplatinum solo debut and staged a signature all-star charity show, but three years later Harrison was still in court trying to shake free of the Beatles. That prompted one of his sharpest, most Lennon-esque takedowns – complete with the same plucky dobro sound Harrison employed on his former bandmate's "Crippled Inside."

34. "Isn't It a Pity (Version Two)"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison's second version of "Isn't It a Pity" followed its original contours as a rejected demo for the Beatles, with Phil Spector's epic production touches replaced by a more intimate atmosphere that allowed Eric Clapton's guitar to move closer to the listener. The appearance of the Leslie recalled sessions for Abbey Road, too.

33. "I Don't Want to Do It"
From: Porky's Revenge (1985)

What a dumb place to hide maybe Harrison's very best Dylan cover.

32. "The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

You'd be forgiven for expecting another anodyne paean to Krishna teachings. Instead, Harrison stormed through the album's earthiest, most muscular attack, highlighted by perhaps his finest slide performance.

31. "Stuck Inside a Cloud"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Harrison's plaintive tone made for a devastatingly fragile moment — "Never slept so little, never smoked so much; lost my concentration, I could even lose my touch" — on his final release, with some appropriately sensitive post-production by Lynne.

30. "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison takes us along on a travelogue through the mystical, humorous and quite charming Friar Park, the Victorian Gothic mansion in Henley-on-Thames once owned by Crisp.

29. "Cheer Down"
From: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

For a few months, this soundtrack song cowritten by Wilbury buddy Tom Petty was one of the more hard-to-find gems from a period of offhanded delights. Produced in a surprisingly contemporary style, Harrison's tongue is firmly placed in cheek throughout: "When your teeth drop out, you'll get by even without taking a bite." Later in the year, "Cheer Down" was widely issued as a single upon the release of Best of Dark Horse.

28. "Behind That Locked Door"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Originally aimed at Dylan, as he planned a huge comeback appearance with the Band at the Isle of Wight Festival, "Behind That Locked Door" became a stirring message of encouragement that we all can use from time to time.

27. "P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

Harrison, then suffering from throat cancer, sounded a bit reedy at times on this posthumous LP, but he still managed a final couple of rapscallion triumphs — including this sharp jab at the religion of his youth.

26. "Heading for the Light"
From: The Traveling Wilburys' Vol. 1 (1988)

As the '80s concluded, Harrison had put his life back together, then his faith and finally his career. His sense of purpose leaks out of every part of this song.

25. "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

The impish original working title of this deeply religious album was The Magic Is Here Again, which – even as a joke – was guaranteed to be an overpromise after Harrison's triple-album debut. Still, "Don't Make Me Wait Too Long" was one of the times when his long-awaited studio follow-up approached that kind of hyperbole. A masterpiece of coiled anticipation.

24. "Wreck of the Hesperus"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

The title of this sharp and snarky rocker, originally found in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, became a colloquial term used by the Brits in reference to a disheveled appearance. That opened the door for a winking glance at Harrison's newfound status as a dinosaur rocker: "I'm not the wreck of the Hesperus," "feel more like the Wall of China," "getting old as Methuselah," etc. Starr was, of course, the perfect choice to drum up a sense of humorous self-effacement.

23. "Looking for My Life"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

You learn some lessons only when it's too late to apply them, and Harrison had found a way to accept that.

22. "Run of the Mill"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

The emotional toll of the Beatles' troubles was writ large during a song Harrison initially composed before they reassembled for Abbey Road. Spector actually allowed for a rootsy, Band-like structure in a moment of surprising restraint later underscored when one of Harrison's initial run-throughs appeared on 2012's Early Takes Vol. 1. Spector didn't add much; he didn't have to.

21. "This Song"
From: Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)

Harrison had much more success when he hilariously lampooned the whole "My Sweet Lord" legal mess rather than trying to reverse-engineer a solution like he did for the 2001 reissue of All Things Must Pass.

20. "This Is Love"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

"Got My Mind Set on You" became a chart-topping smash, and "When We Was Fab" was the album's sentimental favorite. But "This Is Love," with one of Harrison's most openhearted vocals, should have been the hit. It's simply infectious.

19. "You"
From: Extra Texture [Read All About It] (1975)

Harrison had returned to drink and drugs, and Extra Texture couldn't have strayed further from his religious moorings — or from the free-spirited uplift that made his initial post-Beatles records such pleasant surprises. This Top 20 U.S. hit – actually a relic from a scrapped 1971 solo album by Ronnie Spector – takes you right back. Still, it says a lot when the best thing on an LP is essentially a table scrap.

18. "Got My Mind Set on You"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Harrison discovered James Ray's version of this song while browsing record shops during a 1963 visit to his sister in rural Illinois – months before the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan's show. He didn't return to "Got My Mind Set on You" for decades, but Harrison's timing was impeccable: The Jeff Lynne-produced update gave Harrison a third chart-topping single just as his old band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

17. "Love Comes to Everyone"
From: George Harrison (1979)

He should know. Harrison completed this song in early 1978, after some time away. He'd marry Olivia Arias and then become father to Dhani during the sessions for a self-titled comeback album. Then Clapton and Winwood stopped by his home studio to complete things.

16. "I'd Have You Anytime"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Every bit as moving as Abbey Road triumphs like “Something,” with a Beatle-ish guitar signature and lyrical assist by Bob Dylan. What a gutsy opening song for such an enormous undertaking.

15. "Rising Sun"
From: Brainwashed (2002)

This started as a fine little acoustic number. But like many of the best George Harrison tracks, it cried out for a larger sound. Lynne did his best Spector imitation, with a production that explored both the ghost of regret and the atmospheric vistas that define Harrison's solo successes. Meanwhile, Harrison never looked away from what we know — and what, more particularly, he knows — to be true: He's a goner.

14. "Crackerbox Palace"
From: Thirty-Three and a Third (1976)

The album's title – a take off on the RPMs for vinyl and Harrison's age on the proposed release date – held great playful promise. Only the record wasn't released until his 33 2/3 birthday, in a preview of looming label issues. Too bad, since Thirty-Three and a Third was a vast improvement over Extra Texture, highlighted by this incredibly fun Top 20 hit. "Crackerbox Palace" was about the estate of friend Lord Buckley, putting an expectedly different spin (for Harrison anyway) on the line: "Know that the Lord is well."

13. "All Things Must Pass"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison initially gave "All Things Must Pass” to Billy Preston when the Beatles rejected it. By the time Preston's version arrived in September 1970, Harrison had thankfully decided to reclaim his song. Like "Run of the Mill," his subsequent update was influenced by the the Band's recent Music From Big Pink.

12. "That's What It Takes"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Cowritten with Gary Wright, and featuring a nicely understated turn on slide, this is the completely realized mid-'70s hit Harrison never quite managed. Better late than never.

11. "Let It Down"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Look at Harrison, establishing the loud/soft approach that would define alternative rock back when all of those flannel-wearing guys were still twinkles in their pops' eyes.

10. "Blow Away"
From: George Harrison (1979)

A soul-lifting track about clearing skies and opening hearts that's aged as well as any solo Beatles single. Maybe better.

9. "My Sweet Lord"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Docked several spots because he lost that court case. An American publishing company famously won a $600,000 judgment after claiming that this song sounded too much like the early '60s hit "He's So Fine." The court ruled that Harrison "subconsciously plagiarized" the song. Oddly, Harrison countered that he had, in fact, stolen it – but not from the Chiffons. Instead, he said it was originally, um, inspired by Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day."

8. "Isn't It a Pity (Version One)"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Harrison just wouldn't give up on this one. "Isn't It a Pity" was notably tried during January 1969 Beatles sessions under the not-very-intriguing title of "George's Demo." (Perhaps unsurprisingly, it went nowhere.) At that point, he'd apparently been fooling around with some form of this song since the Revolver period. When he finally got a chance to record it, Harrison paired the frankly titanic first version of "Isn't It a Pity" with "My Sweet Lord" to create his double A-side debut solo single.

7. "Your Love Is Forever"
From: George Harrison (1979)

Harrison also spent some time puttering around the grounds during his time away from the music business. "I like gardens; I like the pleasure they give you," he told Rolling Stone in 1979. "It's like a meditation in a way." That sense of contentment permeated this small-scale, endlessly charming album, and "Your Love Is Forever" was its heart and soul. Harrison employs an era-appropriate cycle of seasonal metaphors to craft one of his most truly enduring ballads, then completes things with some of his loveliest slide work.

6. "All Those Years Ago"
From: Somewhere in England (1981)

Under label pressure, Harrison provided some late-session replacement songs that included this No. 2 hit, a requiem for the late John Lennon. His awful murder sparked an unlikely reunion that included Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Beatles producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick, even Denny Laine and Linda McCartney from Wings were there. The results were so incandescent that they almost – but not quite – make up for the dreck found elsewhere on Somewhere in England.

5. "When We Was Fab"
From: Cloud Nine (1987)

Poking some good-natured fun at the Beatles' Summer of Love-era excesses, "When We Was Fab" allowed Lynne to play every psychedelic card in the deck – adding strings, backward tapes and, of course, a sitar. The delightful video included sideman Starr and an actor miming McCartney's left-handed bass while wearing a walrus costume; Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall also passes by at one point with a copy of Lennon's 1971 album Imagine. All of it felt like a bittersweet reverie, even then.

4. "Beware of Darkness"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

"Beware of Darkness" originally opened Side Three of Harrison's post-Fab creative outburst, capturing both the mood and the moment in a reserved, and very Harrison-esque, manner. It's a showcase for his fellow musicians, as sessions evolved into loose amalgams overseen by the mercurial Spector. Yet, Harrison remains the center point, as he matches a lyrical meditation on overcoming life's harder moments (refusing to give into "the pain that often lingers") with an arrangement that might draw this album's clearest line back to the Beatles.

3. "Handle With Care"
From: The Traveling Wilburys' Vol. 1 (1988)

This song of sly resiliency was originally recorded as a throwaway B-side, until Harrison's label intervened. Harrison had called up Lynne, who was then working with Orbison. They arranged to use Dylan's studio, then Petty got involved when Harrison stopped by to retrieve a guitar. All of sudden, perhaps rock's greatest supergroup was born. Warner Bros. wasn't going to bury their first song on the back of Harrison's "This Is Love" single. Lucky us.

2. "What Is Life"
From: All Things Must Pass (1970)

A towering rocker from Harrison's six-times platinum-selling solo debut, "What Is Life" actually warranted Spector's Wall of Sound approach. He ended up assembling a who's-who session: Badfinger added extra layers to a sweeping exclamation of passion, while the background vocals were credited to the George O'Hara-Smith singers — Bobby Whitlock and Clapton, future nucleus of Derek and the Dominos. Predictably, the results couldn't be more widescreen – and yet "What Is Life" never loses its sense of intimate joy.

1. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)"
From: Living in the Material World (1973)

In a way, there wasn't any other direction to go but smaller. After all, Harrison had already reached No. 1 in both the U.S. and U.K. with the expansive "My Sweet Lord," then organized a huge Bangladesh benefit concert. So he gathered a tightly knit quartet of confidants – only Gary Wright, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner and Nicky Hopkins were on hand – to record something Harrison later described as "a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord and whoever likes it." Turns out everybody did. Harrison's ever-expressive slide took center stage, rather than a tsunami of sidemen, while his message became more direct. All of it worked in tandem to render universal truths about healing and forgiveness. Oh, and it was another No. 1 song.

 

Beatles Solo Albums Ranked

Who Was the Fifth Beatle?