When We Was Fab

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"When We Was Fab"
UK picture sleeve
Single by George Harrison
from the album Cloud Nine
B-side "Zig Zag"
"That's The Way It Goes (remix)" (12" and CD only)
"When We Was Fab (reverse end)" (12" and CD only)
Released 25 January 1988
Format 7", 12", CD
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:59
Label Dark Horse
Writer(s) George Harrison, Jeff Lynne
Producer(s) Jeff Lynne, George Harrison
George Harrison singles chronology
"Got My Mind Set on You"
(1987)
"When We Was Fab"
(1988)
"This Is Love"
(1988)
Cloud Nine track listing
"This Is Love"
(5)
"When We Was Fab"
(6)
"Devil's Radio"
(7)
Picture disc
12" (W8131TP)

"When We Was Fab" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released on his 1987 album Cloud Nine. It was also issued as the second single from the album, in January 1988. The lyrics serve as a nostalgic reflection by Harrison on the days of Beatlemania during the 1960s, when the Beatles were first referred to as "the Fab Four". Harrison co-wrote the song with Jeff Lynne, who also co-produced the track. The recording references the psychedelic sound that the Beatles had helped popularise in 1967, through its use of sitar, cello, and backwards-relayed effects. Harrison's former bandmate Ringo Starr is among the other musicians on the track. The single was accompanied by an innovative music video, directed by Godley & Creme. One of Harrison's most popular songs, "When We Was Fab" has appeared on the compilations Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 (1989) and Let It Roll (2009).

Music[edit]

"When We Was Fab" has similarities to songs by the Beatles, such as "I Am the Walrus" (1967). It uses a string quartet and psychedelic effects as did many Beatles songs.

Release[edit]

In the United Kingdom, it peaked at number 25 in the UK Singles Chart, and in the United States, the song peaked at number 23 in Billboard magazine's Hot 100 singles chart. It is Harrison's last top 40 hit in the US, and the second such hit in which the lyrics reflect on his years as a Beatle – the other being "All Those Years Ago" (1981).

In 2010, AOL radio listeners chose "When We Was Fab" as one of the 10 Best George Harrison Songs, placing it number 9 on the list.[1]

Track listings[edit]

  • 7" W8131
  1. "When We Was Fab" - 3:59
  2. "Zig Zag" - 2:45
    • An instrumental track originally appearing on the 1986 soundtrack for the film Shanghai Surprise.
  • 12" W8131T, 12" picture disc W8131TP, 3" CD W8131CD
  1. "When We Was Fab" (unextended version)
  2. "Zig Zag" - 2:45
  3. "That's The Way It Goes" (remix)
    • The original version appears on Harrison's 1982 album Gone Troppo.
  4. "When We Was Fab" (reverse end)
    • The extended version of the song, containing the last few seconds of the song played in reverse.

Cover art[edit]

The single cover incorporates Klaus Voormann's 1966 line drawing of Harrison, which was used in the album art for the Beatles' 1966 album Revolver (the letters ER from the title are visible), along with a similar, updated drawing of Harrison 22 years later.

Music video[edit]

The music video that accompanied the song was directed by Godley & Creme.[2] Ringo Starr appears first as Harrison's "assistant" and then as the drummer. Also making guest appearances in the video are Jeff Lynne, Elton John (putting the coin in the cup) and Neil Aspinall (Beatles' road manager and personal assistant, holding a copy of John Lennon's 1971 Imagine album). Paul McCartney is rumored to have appeared in the walrus suit, playing the bass, with Harrison stating in a televised interview that it was indeed Paul McCartney in the promo video, "but he was camera shy that day and his kept his walrus mask on".[3] Later, in 1995, McCartney said "George wanted me to be in it but I wasn't available. So I suggested that he put someone else in the walrus and tell everyone that it was me". [4] Other appearances feature Paul Simon (pushing a cart) and Ray Cooper.[2]

The video received six nominations at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards, including best art director for Sid Bartholomew.[2][5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
position
Belgian Ultratop Singles Chart[6] 38
Dutch Singles Chart[7] 52
German Media Control Singles Chart[8] 40
Irish Singles Chart[9] 24
UK Singles Chart[10] 25
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 23
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[11] 10

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dickinson, Boonsri. "10 Best George Harrison Songs". AOL. 
  2. ^ a b c "George Harrison – "When we was fab"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  3. ^ unidentified radio interview with George Harrison, ca. 1988
  4. ^ Record Collector. Feb 1995 No.186 p. 21
  5. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards | 1988 | Highlights, Winners, Performers and Photos from the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards". MTV.com. 7 September 1988. Retrieved 23 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "George Harrison – When We Was Fab", ultratop.be (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  7. ^ "George Harrison – When We Was Fab", dutchcharts.nl (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  8. ^ "Single – George Harrison, When We Was Fab", charts.de (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  9. ^ "Search by Artist > George Harrison", irishcharts.ie (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  10. ^ "Artist: George Harrison", Official Charts Company (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  11. ^ a b "George Harrison > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles", AllMusic (retrieved 11 April 2014).