George Harrison: Horse to Water (2001)

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George Harrison: Horse to Water (2001)

As with many people who have a religion, faith or some kind of mainline on what they believe to be the truth, George Harrison wasn't short of moralising and a bit of finger-pointing with warnings.

At their best (early in his solo career) his lyrics were measured but later on the dogma and judging seemed to emerge more.

In this, the final song he recorded when he knew he was going to succumb to cancer (which killed him eight weeks later) he seemed in strong voice for the song to be included on a Jools Holland album Small World Big Band.

But as Peter Doggett noted in his excellent 2010 book You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, “Harrison's lyrics had the dull ring of an Old Testament prophet confronting the apostasy of his nation from his deathbed”.
Maybe a bit harsh but there is a lot of personal stuff loaded in the lyrics: “a friend of mine in so much misery” seems to be about Paul McCartney who had lost his wife Linda a couple of years previous and was adrift and “has struck a reef . . . he turned off his nervous system”.

And the verse about “some people thirst for truth, he would like a drink” highlighted the difference Harrison saw between himself and his old pal Ringo or any number of others in his circle like Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis etc who'd barely staying afloat in their alcoholism. Or had drowned because of it.

The “preacher” who warns about fornication and Satan could be any number of gurus or religious figures who had passed through Harrison's wide orbit.

The point of the song was in the title and the fact none of these people found any peace.

This is a 2007 remix of Harrison's final studio recording which he – with black humour – had copyrighted to a new company: RIP Ltd 2001.

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For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults


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