As the Beatles composed their various albums over the decades, George Harrison always fell short when the track list came up. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were at the forefront of the Fab Four’s songwriting, and as a result, Harrison and Ringo Starr only had a few of their tracks included on their recordings. When the Beatles ventured to India in 1968, Harrison penned one long-forgotten track the band simply didn’t want to work with.
The ninth Beatles record, The White Album, hit store shelves in November 1968, so this chronology matches when Harrison originally wrote the track.
“We recorded it,” Harrison continued. “But we just didn’t get it right or something. Then I forgot all about it until a year ago when I found this old demo I did in the ’60s.”
The demo for Not Guilty (track 102) is dated 1968 and is marked as having been recorded at his home, Kinfauns, in Esher, Surrey.
While the Beatles simply did not want to work with Harrison on recording the song, he admitted that he loved the song.
Harrison said, “The lyrics are a little dated—it’s all about annoying ‘Apple Vans’ and stuff—but it’s a little bit about what was going on at the time.”
At this point in Harrison’s life, he was struggling to find his place in the Beatles while also learning about Hinduism and the benefits of finding God. As a result, Not Guilty became a reflection of how he was feeling at the time.
Harrison broke down what the words meant to him: “I’m not guilty of getting in your way / While trying to steal the day” – which was what I was trying to get space. “
He continued, “Not guilty / for seeming strange / to make friends with all the Sikhs / to lead you astray / on the road to Mandalay” – which is the Maharishi and going to the Himalayas and all that was said about it. “
Harrison finished considering Not Guilty (Take 102) but added: “I like the tune very much; it would be a great tune for Peggy Lee or someone.”
However, The Quiet Beatles, as they were known, had a few number one hits on The Beatles’ albums.
In fact, some of the band’s biggest hits have come directly from Harrison, including Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Here Comes the Sun, and I, Me, Mine.
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