All Those Years Ago
|"All Those Years Ago"|
UK picture sleeve
|Single by George Harrison|
|from the album Somewhere in England|
|B-side||"Writing's on the Wall"|
11 May 1981 (US)|
15 May 1981 (UK)
|Recorded||FPSHOT, 19–25 November 1980, early 1981 (new lead vocal and backing vocals)|
|Producer(s)||George Harrison, Ray Cooper|
|George Harrison singles chronology|
|Somewhere in England track listing|
"All Those Years Ago" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released as a single from his 1981 album Somewhere in England. Having previously recorded the music for the song, Harrison tailored the lyrics to serve as a personal tribute to his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon, following the latter's murder on 8 December 1980. The recording also includes performances by ex-Beatles Ringo Starr, on drums, and Paul McCartney (along with his Wings bandmates, Linda McCartney and Denny Laine), who overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track. Released in May 1981, the single spent three weeks at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (kept off the top spot by Kim Carnes's "Bette Davis Eyes"), and peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. In addition, it topped Canada's RPM singles chart and spent one week at number 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary listings.
"All Those Years Ago" was both the first recording on which Harrison, McCartney and Starr all appeared since the Beatles' "I Me Mine" in 1970, and the last recording on which they would all appear together until "Free As a Bird", in 1995. Other musicians performing on the track include Al Kooper and Ray Cooper. The song has appeared on the Harrison compilations Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 and Let It Roll, and a live version recorded in 1991 with Eric Clapton was included on Harrison's Live in Japan double album. In 2010, AOL Radio listeners voted "All Those Years Ago" in sixth place on a list of the "10 Best George Harrison Songs". The track has been featured in the books 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download by Robert Dimery, and Bruce Pollock's The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000.
Prior to Lennon's death, Harrison originally wrote the song with different lyrics for Ringo Starr to record. Although he recorded it, Starr felt the vocal was too high for his range and disliked the lyrics. Harrison took the track back and, after Lennon's death, the lyrics were changed to reflect a tribute to him. In the song, Harrison makes reference to the Beatles song "All You Need Is Love" and the Lennon song "Imagine" ("you were the one who imagined it all").
The recording of the song featured all three remaining Beatles (Harrison, Starr and Paul McCartney), though this was expressly a Harrison single. It is one of only a few non-Beatles songs to feature three members of the group. Harrison and Starr recorded the song at Harrison's Friar Park studio between 19 November and 25 November 1980. After Lennon's death the following month, Harrison removed Starr's vocals (but left Starr's drumming track) and recorded his own vocals with rewritten lyrics honouring Lennon. McCartney, his wife Linda and their Wings bandmate Denny Laine visited Friar Park to record backing vocals. The lineup was rounded out by Al Kooper on keyboards, Herbie Flowers on bass and percussionist Ray Cooper. The album's liner notes also thank the Beatles' former producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick. Harrison co-produced the recording with percussionist Ray Cooper.
The music video features a slide show-type presentation of stills and short archival video clips. The emphasis is on Lennon and, to a lesser degree, Harrison. The post-Beatles stills of Lennon at older ages are countered with stills of Harrison from the same time frame.
- George Harrison – vocals, electric guitars, synthesizer, organ, backing vocals
- Al Kooper – electric piano
- Herbie Flowers – bass
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Ray Cooper – tambourine
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals
- Linda McCartney – backing vocals
- Denny Laine – backing vocals
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