The Elvis Presley song George Harrison called “dumb”

Renowned for his understated demeanor, George Harrison, a pivotal member of The Beatles, was anything but reserved when it came to expressing his opinions. Despite his moniker as ‘The Quiet One,’ Harrison’s acerbic wit and candid critiques offer a glimpse into the multifaceted personality often overshadowed by his more outspoken bandmates.

One instance of Harrison’s candor arose in his disdain for The Hollies’ rendition of his composition ‘If I Needed Someone.’ In a candid interview from 1965, coinciding with the release of both versions of the song, he minced no words, labeling The Hollies’ interpretation as “rubbish” and lamenting how they “spoilt it.” Harrison didn’t stop there, lambasting the overall sound of The Hollies’ records, likening them to disjointed session musicians rather than a cohesive band under Graham Nash’s leadership.

Even figures who inspired Harrison’s musical journey weren’t spared from his critical eye. Elvis Presley, revered as ‘The King of Rock and Roll,’ held a special place in The Beatles’ hearts during their formative years. However, their admiration waned upon meeting Presley, as they witnessed his artistic decline and perceived him as a spiritual antithesis to their ethos.

Despite covering several of Presley’s songs in their early repertoire, including his rendition of ‘That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,’ Harrison began to question the idolization. Reflecting on the track’s flaws, he remarked on what he deemed a “dumb line,” signaling the band’s foresight in breaking away from conventional musical norms and forging their own path.

In an interview with Creem Magazine, Harrison recounted his disappointment upon seeing Presley perform at Madison Square Garden. Despite Presley’s impeccable appearance, Harrison lamented the overbearing ensemble of backup singers and musicians, longing for a simpler setup reminiscent of Presley’s earlier, raw performances. Harrison’s desire for Presley to strip back to his roots, embodied in the stripped-down arrangement of ‘That’s All Right, Mama,’ underscores his reverence for authenticity in music.

Harrison’s candid commentary offers a unique perspective on his role within The Beatles and his discerning approach to music, challenging conventional narratives surrounding his reserved persona.

Listen to ‘That’s Where Your Heartache Begins’ below.

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