The George Harrison song Eric Clapton rejected

Few accolades in the realm of music rival the honor of having an iconic artist like George Harrison craft a song specifically with another musician in mind. The thought of passing up the opportunity to immortalize one of Harrison’s compositions in a recording might seem unfathomable, but Eric Clapton, a close friend of Harrison, made the unexpected decision to decline the track ‘Cheer Down.’

The camaraderie between the two musicians dates back to the 1960s, with Clapton even joining recording sessions with The Beatles at the invitation of Harrison himself. Their musical partnership thrived post-Beatles era, exemplified by Clapton’s notable contribution to the iconic ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’ The collaboration continued, with the two artists occasionally working together, including the genesis of The Beatles’ hit single ‘Here Comes The Sun.’

Their friendship endured over the years, even surviving the unconventional twist of Pattie Boyd, Harrison’s ex-wife, marrying Clapton. Harrison, in an act of goodwill, even performed at their wedding ceremony.

Perhaps it was the strength of their bond that allowed Clapton to comfortably turn down ‘Cheer Down,’ a song penned by Harrison specifically for him. During the production of his eleventh studio album, Journeyman, Clapton felt the track didn’t align with his musical vision at the time.

The fate of ‘Cheer Down’ took an unexpected turn when it found a place on the soundtrack for Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989, curated by Clapton himself. According to Harrison, Clapton remained hesitant about the song, but fate intervened. Harrison revealed in the book ‘Harrison on Harrison,’ “Eric didn’t really want it – he didn’t want to have a single out from the movie – so Dick Donner asked me if I’d record the song, which I did. I wrote it for Eric originally, and Tom Petty helped me write the lyrics to it.”

Despite the initial rejection, Clapton later performed ‘Cheer Down’ with Harrison during their tour in Japan. While the decision not to make the song his own may seem perplexing, the result showcased Harrison’s mesmerizing slide guitar solo and perfectly fitting vocals. In retrospect, Clapton’s choice allowed ‘Cheer Down’ to be rightfully recorded by its intended owner.

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