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All Those Years Ago

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"All Those Years Ago"
UK picture sleeve
Single by George Harrison
from the album Somewhere in England
B-side"Writing's on the Wall"
Released11 May 1981 (US)
15 May 1981 (UK)[1]
RecordedFPSHOT, 19–25 November 1980, early 1981 (new lead vocal and backing vocals)
GenrePop rock
LabelDark Horse
Songwriter(s)George Harrison
Producer(s)George Harrison, Ray Cooper
George Harrison singles chronology
"All Those Years Ago"
Somewhere in England track listing
10 tracks
Side one
  1. "Blood from a Clone"
  2. "Unconsciousness Rules"
  3. "Life Itself"
  4. "All Those Years Ago"
  5. "Baltimore Oriole"
Side two
  1. "Teardrops"
  2. "That Which I Have Lost"
  3. "Writing's on the Wall"
  4. "Hong Kong Blues"
  5. "Save the World"

"All Those Years Ago" is a song by the English rock musician George Harrison, released in May 1981 as a single from his ninth studio 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 in 1980. Ringo Starr is featured on drums, and Paul McCartney (along with his Wings bandmates Linda McCartney and Denny Laine) overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track. The single spent three weeks at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, behind "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, and it peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped Canada's RPM singles chart and spent one week at number 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary listings.[2]

"All Those Years Ago" was the first recording on which Harrison, McCartney and Starr all appeared since the Beatles' "I Me Mine" (1970), and their last recording together until "Free as a Bird" (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".[3] The track has been featured in the books 1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die,[citation needed] and 10,001 You Must Download[citation needed] by Robert Dimery, and Bruce Pollock's The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944–2000.[citation needed]


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[4] and disliked the lyrics.[5] 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 Lennon-penned Beatles song "All You Need Is Love" and the Lennon song "Imagine" ("you were the one who Imagined it all").

Band line-up[edit]

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 band. Harrison and Starr recorded the song at Harrison's Friar Park studio between 19 November and 25 November 1980. The lineup was rounded out by Al Kooper on keyboards, Herbie Flowers on bass and percussionist Ray Cooper. Harrison co-produced the recording with Cooper.

After Lennon's death the following month, Harrison removed Starr's vocals (but kept 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 and recorded backing vocals as an overdub to the original track.[6] The album's liner notes also thank the Beatles' former producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick, who were present at the session where the backing vocals were recorded. Martin, Emerick and the members of Wings were working on McCartney's Tug Of War album at the time, and had traveled to Harrison's studio to record a Harrison guitar overdub for that album. The session instead turned into a vocal session for "All Those Years Ago", and Harrison's guitar piece for McCartney's album was never recorded.

Critical reception[edit]

Record World described the song as a "buoyant reminiscence [that] features George's fluid guitar lines with help from Paul, Ringo and Linda."[7]

Music video[edit]

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.


Chart performance[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Badman, Keith (1999). The Beatles After the Breakup 1970-2000: A day-by-day diary. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-7520-5.
  2. ^ The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition, 1996
  3. ^ Dickinson, Boonsri (29 February 2020). "10 Best George Harrison Songs". AOL.
  4. ^ Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980. Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. p. 433. ISBN 978-1-4165-9093-4.
  5. ^ Madinger, Chip; Easter, Mark (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions. p. 460. ISBN 0-615-11724-4.
  6. ^ Badman, Keith (1999). The Beatles After the Breakup 1970-2000: A day-by-day diary. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-7520-5.
  7. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. 16 May 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  8. ^ "Top Singles of 1981 (Australia)". Archived from the original on 9 December 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "George Harrison – All Those Years Ago". Norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  10. ^ "George Harrison". tsort.info. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Search by Artist > George Harrison" Archived 2 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, irishcharts.ie (retrieved 11 April 2014).
  12. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1981" [The best-selling singles of 1981]. Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  13. ^ "George Harrison – All Those Years Ago". charts.nz. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Artist: George Harrison". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Awards: George Harrison". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Cash Box Top 200 Singles". Cash Box. 27 June 1981. p. 4.
  17. ^ "Single – George Harrison, All Those Years Ago". officialcharts.de. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  18. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1981". Kent Music Report. 4 January 1982. p. 7. Retrieved 11 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  19. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Top Annuali Single 1981". Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1981/Top 100 Songs of 1981". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1981". Cashbox Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1981". Tropicalglen.com. 26 December 1981. Archived from the original on 22 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.

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