Only A Northern Song (Harrison)

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Only A Northern Song (Harrison)

Originally recorded for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, George wrote Only A Northern Song as a biting commentary about his loss of ownership of songs he had written for The Beatles. The company that handled the publishing for the Beatles music was Northern Songs and upon going public in 1965 the majority shareholders (Paul and John, who each owned 15% as opposed to George’s 0.8% as he was a contracted songwriter) in the company were making more money on Harrison’s compositions than he was.

Quotes

“It was at the point that I realized Dick James had conned me out of the copyrights for my own songs by offering to become my publisher. As an 18- or 19-year-old kid, I thought, ‘Great, somebody’s gonna publish my songs!’ But he never said, ‘And incidentally, when you sign this document here, you’re assigning me the ownership of the songs [Harrison had written as a Beatle],’ which is what it is. It was just a blatant theft. By the time I realized what had happened, when they were going public and making all this money out of this catalog, I wrote ‘Only A Northern Song’ as what we call a ‘piss-take,’ just to have a joke about it.” – George Harrison

“I remember playing a silly trumpet [on “Only a Northern Song”]. My dad used to play. I can’t, but I can mess around a lot – and that song gave me the perfect framework. It was very tongue in cheek.” – Paul McCartney

Personnel

  • George Harrison – vocals, Hammond organ, additional organ, dialogue, noises
  • John Lennon – glockenspiel, piano, dialogue, noises
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar, trumpet, noises
  • Ringo Starr – drums, noises
  • Uncredited but played by the Beatles – timpani, Mellotron, additional percussion

Release history