Many women helped George Harrison throughout his career. His mother Lewis supported him when he was a boy with dreams of becoming the next Carl Perkins. Then, his first wife, Patty Boyd, inspired him to write The Beatles’ “Something”, one of the best love songs of all time. But only one woman helped him the most and continued to help his wife, Olivia, years after his death. Olivia only gets a chance to see her husband’s legacy when she helps him write some of his songs.
Olivia was not just an inspiration and a muse to George. She helped him with the singing process whenever she could, and she’s still helping him repackage George’s albums and find songs he lost in the seat cushions of his couch years later.
George Harrison used to write things down and hide them in strange places
George had an interesting way of writing things down. Olivia told Board That George would be “turning around and taking a piece of paper out of his pocket and it would end up somewhere. Maybe he would stick it in a book or in a drawer or somewhere.”
Sometimes they weren’t even songs. George often thought of something, usually a strange, nonsensical sentence, and Olivia would confuse it later.
“George himself wrote down a lot of his thoughts,” Olivia explained. “Sometimes it was just a sentence you thought, ‘What does that mean?’ Which is a very beautiful line that he just wrote on a hotel notepad.”
It was Olivia’s job to capture these strange notes. They were her husband’s precious thoughts. Now she probably wishes she could hang about the place more.
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Olivia Harrison Was George Harrison’s ‘Amanuensis’
During her interview with Billboard, Olivia confirmed that she would help George write the song throughout the songwriting process. George would tell Olivia the lyrics of the song after coming to him, and she would write them down while he was trying to decipher the chords. Essentially, she was his “Amanuensis”.
“Sometimes if he was working on guitar he’d say some lyrics and if he didn’t have a tape cassette I’d try to play Emanuensis [laughs], you know, copy what he was saying so that he doesn’t forget. Most of the time he’d say go and grab the cassette recorder,” Olivia explained.
However, Oliva stated that George had not actually entered a “trance-like state” when writing the song. He will just get excellent ideas and get lost in them. “It wasn’t a trance,” she said. “He was like, ‘Oh, I just had an idea’ and a light bulb would go off and then it would go away. I’m not a songwriter so I can’t really explain it, but I’m sure a As a writer with a thought like you, I’m sure you go, ‘Ahhhhh, I’ve gotta bring this down.’ It’s the same in every creative process.”
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Olivia Harrison will help George Harrison with the tunes
Olivia wasn’t just George’s amanuensis. She really helped create the songs, at least melody-wise. He would play her music, asking if it was good or not, and she would give him advice.
“Sometimes he would play a melody or two and he would go ‘Is that something? Is that something.’ I’ll go, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I know a lot of songs from the 1950s. Sometimes I’d say it was something and he’d just make me take a look [laughs]”
Clearly, Olivia was a huge help to her overall songwriting process during George’s wedding. She made sure she didn’t forget the essential lyrics and gave her opinion on the tunes. After all they are important things. George trusts Olivia, and he continues to honor that trust by protecting her legacy.