The Low Down On Bob Dylan And George Harrison’s Friendship
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press
“Even his stuff which people loathe, I like,” the former Beatle enthused.
Harrison was a lifelong fan of Dylan’s music.
“Every single thing he does represents something that’s him,” he continued to tell Melody Maker. “He may write better songs tomorrow, sing high on this album and low on another, go electric or acoustic, go weird or whatever, but the basic thing that causes all this change is an incredible character named Bob Dylan.”
“He’s the looniest person I know,” he concluded.
Harrison first met Dylan in August 1964, a crossing of paths which famously saw Dylan, after misinterpreting ‘It’s A Hard Day’s Night’ lyric “I get high”, offered Harrison and his fellow Beatles their first joint.
After this meeting, the Fab Four and Dylan remained in contact.
Then in 1968, inspired by the albums both Dylan and his former backing outfit The Band had recorded in the area, George made a journey to Woodstock.
When he dropped into Dylan’s home for a few days their friendship blossomed.
“He seemed a little nervous and I felt a little uncomfortable,” Harrison reflects in his book I Me Mine. “Anyway, on the third day we got the guitars out and loosened up and I was saying to him, ‘write some words.’”
Eventually, Dylan did, writing the bridge to the song which would become ‘I’d Have You Anytime’.
Later seeing Dylan performing at the Isle of Wight Festival back home in England that year, Harrison was left so inspired he wrote a song about Bob called ‘Behind That Locked Door’.
Both songs appeared on Harrison’s 1970 solo album All things Must Pass in addition to a cover of ‘If Not For You’ from Dylan’s New Morning.
Dylan would later assist Harrison in 1971 by agreeing to appear at George’s Concert for Bangladesh.
Harrison visited Dylan again shortly before recording 1973’s Living In The Material World.
In the eyes of the public though, the pair remained off the radar until Dylan and Harrison again collaborated in 1988, jamming onstage at the Beatles Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and forming all-star band and songwriting collective the Travelling Wilburys.
The Wilburys released a second album in 1990 and this would be the final time the pair worked together.
Harrison passed away in 2001.
Unable to make a tribute concert dedicated to Harrison in 2002, Dylan sang his own version of George’s Abbey Road contribution ‘Something’ to a New York audience.
“I just want to do this song for George,” he told those present, “because we were such good buddies.”
Dylan has kept his thoughts of the Beatles passing close to his chest.
When asked by Rolling Stone about the Beatle in 2007 Dylan simply, “We’d known each other from the old days really. I knew the Beatles really early on, all of them.”