What Is Life – George Harrison

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………………….on November 27th of 1970 George Harrison releases his first post-Beatles album, “All Things Must Pass”, produced by Phil Spector and featuring Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Ringo Starr and Jim Gordon. The triple disc set would go on to be certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA, making it the best selling album by a solo Beatle. From that LP comes “What Is Life”. Originally, Harrison wrote this for Billy Preston with sort of a gospel feel. After it ended up being a fast rocker, he decided it wouldn’t be right for Preston and released it himself. Preston was one the early artists on the Beatles’ Apple label (he released two albums), and he was present at the sessions that yielded “Get Back.”Harrison was writing many religious songs at the time, but this wasn’t one of them. The lyrics are directed to a person, not God. The original song had piccolo, trumpet, and oboe parts that weren’t used because Harrison didn’t like the feel. They can be heard on the 2000 reissue of the album, where the original backing track is included as an extra song. Phil Spector produced the album. Bobby Whitlock, who played keyboards at the sessions, had this to say about him in his Songfacts interview: “The real show in that whole place was Phil Spector – what a funny guy. He’s not too funny now, but then, what he was doing in there and the way he was carrying on, I thought, they’ve got all these mics out here catching us jamming, where they need a mic is on the inside. He was a pretty colorful character to say the least. That was one of the highlights of it – listening to him and watching him and watching how he operated. I learned a lot just from being around him.” On the album, the “O’Hara-Smith” singers are credited as background vocalists. Whitlock explains: “That’s Eric Clapton and me. If you listen, you can hear Eric and me wailing away.” In the UK, this was released as the B-side to “My Sweet Lord.” In the US, it was released as its own single, with “Apple Scruffs” as the B-side it reached #10.