Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 180
Sun. July 8, 2012
George Harrison’s touching stripped down country and western number was one of the few that didn’t have Phil Spector’s trademark Wall of Sound production on All Things Must Pass. Simon Leng, eloquently wrote in While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison—“Harrison manages to temper Phil Spector’ taste for the extreme.” Harrison explained why he choose to include the acoustic flavored “Locked Door” — “It was a good excuse to do a county tune with pedal steel guitar.” Speaking of, you may recognize Pete Drake’s pedal steel guitar wailing throughout “Locked Door.”[Drake played his trademark unmistakable soaring riffs on Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline LP’s]
Did you know that Harrison penned this beauty, “Behind that Locked Door” for Dylan, himself? I always believed “Locked Door” was George’s paean to Patti Harrison; it sounds like a song of reconciliation between a quarreling husband and wife. That’s the beauty of Harrison’s gift of songwriting; multiple meanings and each are equally stunningly memorable.
Bob Dylan actually helped George Harrison compose All Things Must Pass’s open number “I’d Have You Any Time” and Bob himself composed “If Not For You.” Elliot J. Huntley discussed Dylan and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass collaborations in his excellent tome: Mystical One: George Harrison: After the Break-up of The Beatles when he wrote—“While “If Not For You” was written by Dylan, “Behind That Locked Door” was written about Dylan, and is a love song to the great man.” So true in fact, Harrison supported Huntley’s brilliant interpretation when he wrote in I Me Mine—““Behind That Locked Door” was when Bob Dylan was playing soon after his Nashville Skyline album. I wrote this song for him.”
Harrison, The Beatle great was not only Bob’s partner but George truly idolized Dylan—The artist; once raving about his collaborator and friend—“Dylan is so brilliant. To me, he makes William Shakespeare look like Billy Joel.” [I’ve always boasted, in my writings, that Dylan is the American Bard. It’s good to see that I’m not alone in my analysis.]
The feeling was mutual, following George’s passing, Bob Dylan said this as a tribute to a Harrison—“George was a giant, a great, great soul, with all of the humanity, all of the wit and humor, all the wisdom, the spirituality, the common sense of a man and compassion for people. The world is a profoundly emptier place without him.”
Dylan’s words are a reflection of their deep connection beyond collaborators—we all still feel Dylan’s ache, but George himself would like us to believe; his own life loss in our world is the universe’s spiritual gain. Think about it, every time you spin optimistic ode that is “Behind That Locked Door” you are honoring the spirit of George Harrison.
George Harrison’s tender homage to Bob Dylan is one of the few songs from All Things Must Pass that shine alone with Spector’s overblown Wall of Sound production. Even on the recently released demo version of “Behind That Locked Door” from George’s Early Takes Vol. 1, you can hear the delicate chords and compassionate lyric with an empathizing honesty rarely shared by two men, rarer still from two giants of music and song. There’s so much to love in this touching tribute to Bob Dylan; Go back, delve inside the All Things Must Pass sessions and unlock this beautiful early outtake of George Harrison’s “Behind That Locked Door.”