George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” Lyrics Meaning
Simply put, George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is a religious-praise song. The narrative is based on the desire of the singer to “see” the “Lord”. And whereas the word “Lord” is used as a general term in reference to the Creator globally, from a specific-religious perspective, Harrison is singing to Krishna, the lead diety of the Hindu faith.
This may not be based on a longing to physically see Him per se but rather for the singer to be so close enough to the Most High that he can discern His presence. And while in the first verse he expresses a strong impatience concerning the realization of this matter, by the end of the second he seems more confident that such will transpire expeditiously. But outside of this storyline, the majority of the rest of the song basically features George Harrison bigging up God if you will.
Thus it is quite obvious that the singer believes in a singular, higher power. However, Mr. Harrison himself did not submit wholly to any particular religious doctrine. So even though the artist may have been studying Eastern religions at the time of this track’s release, he did not have an identifiable religion. As such, knowledgeable listeners will be able to ascertain that he uses terminology from both the Christian and Hindu faiths in “My Sweet Lord”.
And at the end of the day, what it appears Harrison was trying to achieve was the creation of a spiritually-themed track which can be enjoyed by people of different religions – a universal praise song if you will. And considering that “My Sweet Lord” went on to become a number-one hit, it would appear that he had achieved that goal.
First Beatle to top the Hot 100
Though George Harrison (1943-2001) may not have been the most-popular Beatle, it was “My Sweet Lord” which became the first solo track any of them came out with which actually topped the Billboard Hot 100. Indeed this is the most-successful song George Harrison ever released as a soloist and the best-seller of any of the former Beatles during the 1970’s.
Indeed even outside of the United States, “My Sweet Lord” proved to be a mega hit, topping the charts in these countries:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Release Date of “My Sweet Lord”
“My Sweet Lord” was released by Apple Records on 27 November 1970. It was the lead single from George Harrison’s third album, “All Things Must Pass”.
Harrison didn’t want this released as a single
George Harrison understood the risks of creating such an overtly-religious song for the mainstream-music audience. However, despite his internal reluctance, he still decided to do it since he felt that no one else was.
Yet he never intended “My Sweet Lord” (or any other song from “All Things Must Pass”) to be released as a single. And even when Apple Records decided otherwise that this song should be used in such a manner, he disapproved. But ultimately, the label prevailed.
Billy Preston’s Version
And a month after George Harrison’s version of “My Sweet Lord” dropped, another version by Billy Preston (1946-2006) was also released. Preston was one of Harrison’s homeys and label mates. Indeed George Harrison produced Preston’s rendition of the song.
Who wrote “My Sweet Lord”?
George Harrison began penning “My Sweet Lord” in late 1969, during time spent in Denmark with the likes of Billy Preston and rock-music icon Eric Clapton.
This classic was produced by Phil Spector.
Bright Tunes, a music publishing company, sued George Harrison and Apple Records in 1971, charging the artist with copyright infringement. The song he had allegedly plagiarized in the creation of “My Sweet Lord” was a track entitled “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons, a girl group from the Bronx.
In the subsequent case of “Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music”, the court ruled against George Harrison, stating that he did indeed copy The Chiffons, albeit “subconsciously”.
This verdict had repercussions throughout the music industry and was actually an important part of American music history, as now artists were compelled to take the crediting of songs which influenced their work more seriously.
But does “My Sweet Lord” sound like “He’s So Fine” by The Chiffons?
Actually it does. Both songs sound so ridiculously similar that you’d be forgiven if you mistook them to be the same song. You can listen to “He’s So Fine” below and judge for yourself.
“My Sweet Lord” Re-charts
This classic recharted internationally in 2002, shortly after Harrison passed away. This included the song managing to top the charts again in Canada as well as the United Kingdom. Furthermore, it scored a number one in Scotland.
Popularity in America
“My Sweet Lord” has really had an enduring presence in the pop culture of America. For instance in addition to being covered by artists as diverse as Peggy Lee and Nina Simone, the track is also featured on the soundtrack of the popular Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017).
Is “My Sweet Lord” included in Rolling Stone’s list of the best songs ever written?
Yes. In 2011 Rolling Stone magazine placed this classic hit at number 460 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.