It's probably not an opinion that would pass muster with the rock intelligentsia, but I've always felt that 'It Don't Come Easy' was one of the greatest rock songs of all time. It's great!Well, I don't know what the rock intelligentsia think...
Strike that -- I know exactly what they think, and I don't give a tinker's fart. I say "It Don't Come Easy" is one of the greatest pieces of pop ever. Listen to it:
The Beatles killed Rock music, really. They made artifacts- studio confections that existed in a realm outside live music. They had the knack for the little ditty writ large, and indulged it. They could get away with it, but it led to all sorts of trouble for those less talented. E.L.O. anyone?
But let's not worry about that. If you're going to assemble pop confections, who are you going to do it with?
Well, how about the fellows from Badfinger, and Beatles cronies like Klaus Voorman and Steve Stills, and Eric Clapton? Have George Martin ride herd over that, and see what you get. And when George Martin's not around, have the other George -- Harrison-- arranging the whole thing.
"We were always rather beastly to George," George Martin famously said of George Harrison. George's compositions were relegated to the end of the queue, afterthoughts really, and his guitar playing was a bit too lugubrious for the records, and George Martin would guide his charge through his solos more often than not. Paul McCartney played guitar in the original iteration of the band, and I'm sure George always had that feeling that he was looking over his shoulder a bit. It surely rankled, but George soldiered on.
Like the football player that isn't a star until he coaches, George really didn't shine until he was directing things. And he certainly had been paying attention to what George Martin was doing. He could do it too, when he got the chance.
The Beatles were kaput. We weren't tired of them, but they were tired of themselves. And George decided to give his friend Ringo a leg up, since they were all out on their own now. And George Harrison most assuredly wrote It Don't Come Easy, or the largest possible portion of it, if you disbelieve the record label and believe your eyes and your ears. Ringo sits in during the concert for Bangladesh, George out front with the Badfinger boys, and Ringo forgets about half the words when they play it together. He keeps on smiling through the whole thing, and invests it with that original and unmistakeable packing crate beat he invented for himself in the seedy clubs in Liverpool.
If you have any doubt who wrote the thing, listen to George and the fellows play it before Ringo shows up for the studio session:
All that was missing Ringo's sunny disposition, his infectious beat, and his likeable, plodding voice. You could hear him toss his head on a record, somehow.
George arranged some horns, really well, played that magnificent shimmering intro and outro, picking his way over the three chords like a mountain climber reaching the arete to gaze down into Shangri-la, and got his friend to play that guitar solo I bet -- Eric Clapton. It sounds like him, and he was there.
We were poor when I was a young teen, but not so's you'd notice. My weary mother would take us to the pizza joint, hard by the dissipated college kid's dorms, and we'd eat cheap pie and drink cokes and she'd give us quarters for the big Seeburg jukebox. George's warm pizzicato chords, then Ringo's voice would come out of that box like a benediction, and you'd let the whole thing wash over you like the warm, sweet wave it was.