When Paul McCartney upset George Harrison by finishing his Beatles song

George Harrison had always felt somewhat disrespected during his time in The Beatles, it seemed. He would become an excellent songwriter in his own right some time down the line, but throughout much of the Beatles‘ early years, Harrison had to play second (or even third) fiddle to the prolific songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

By the time the Beatles recorded their final album Get Back, there were evident tensions in the band. Ringo looked bored behind the kit, Lennon was sat next to Yoko and completely un-arsed about the whole thing, while McCartney had clearly taken the leadership reigns. Harrison, meanwhile, was trying to worm his way back into some sort of creative freedom, though this was much to the chagrin of McCartney.

Yet, at some point prior to that, Harrison himself had been given the opportunity to craft his own songs for consideration amongst the Beatles’ oeuvre. One particular instance of a tussle between Harrison and McCartney came during the writing sessions for the Fab Fours’ seventh studio album, Revolver.

Harrison had written the excellent ‘Taxman’ as the album’s opening track. It pointed the finger at the HMRC, who Harrison claimed were taking too much money from him through income tax. However, perhaps the pressure was on Harrison, and it got to him, as he couldn’t quite finish the song.

John Lennon noted: “I remember the day he called to ask for help on ‘Taxman,’ one of his first songs. I threw in a few one-liners to help the song along because that’s what he asked for. He came to me because he couldn’t go to Paul. Paul wouldn’t have helped him at that period. It had been John and Paul for so long, he’d been left out because he hadn’t been a songwriter up until then.”

So while Lennon helped out with the odd lyric here and there, it was, despite Lennon’s comments, Paul McCartney who played the biggest hand in finishing ‘Taxman’. McCartney ended up recording the guitar solo at the suggestion of Brian Epstein, which must have been a great slight to Harrison’s talents. Geoff Emerick, the author of a Beatles’ history book, wrote, “This was, after all, a Harrison song and therefore not something anyone was prepared to spend a whole lot of time on.”

Emerick continued: “I could see from the look on Harrison’s face that he didn’t like the idea one bit. [Harrison] proceeded to disappear for a couple of hours.” During this time, McCartney recorded the piece that would appear on the final version of ‘Taxman’, although it likely resulted in a widening of the rift that would one day put an end to the most influential band of the 20th Century.

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