Steven Van Zandt On George Harrison Being Underestimated By Paul McCartney

In response to a query from one of his fans, Steven Van Zandt recently published a post on X in which the rock star discussed how Paul McCartney didn’t give George Harrison enough credit.

After sharing “Only a Northern Song” by the Beatles, the user questioned Van Zandt:

“Today is the anniversary of us losing George [Harrison]. I saw where ‘Only a Northern Song’ is in part George criticizing Paul [McCartney] for being dismissive of George’s songs. Is this how you understand it to be?”

Van Zandt’s View On The True Meaning Of ‘Only A Northern Song’

The guitarist replied:

“We don’t acknowledge ‘death days,’ everyone lives forever in the Underground Garage, meanwhile, I never read that. George was referring to the fact that they all lost their publishing ownership (Northern Songs) since no artist even knew what that was when they started in the 60s.”

Harrison wrote a song for the Beatles called “Only a Northern Song.” While it was being recorded in 1967 for their album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” it was left off of the record. Rather, it was made available in 1969 as a soundtrack for the animated feature “Yellow Submarine.”

Harrison’s Dissatisfaction With Music Business And Northern Songs Ltd.

Harrison’s discontent with the music industry, namely with the band’s publishing company, Northern Songs Ltd., is reflected in the song’s lyrics. The musician stated in 1979 that the title itself is a clear allusion to this company:

‘”Only a Northern Song’ was a joke relating to Liverpool, the Holy City in the North of England. In addition, the song was copyrighted by Northern Songs Ltd, which I don’t own, so: ‘It doesn’t really matter what chords I play… as it’s only a Northern Song.'”

Nevertheless, Harrison did not contribute much to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. Using the song “Only a Northern Song,” he playfully expressed his unhappiness at not being the band’s primary songwriter, like McCartney and Lennon, and at only being able to record a small number of songs annually.

In a 1999 interview with Billboard, the guitarist said that, as a young adult, he had been duped by Dick James into giving over the copyrights to his songs, believing he was just acquiring a publisher. He humorously penned “Only a Northern Song” to vent his annoyance at the songs’ commercial success.

The tweet is shown below.



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