I Live For You

"I Live for You"
Song by George Harrison from the album All Things Must Pass
(30th Anniversary Edition)
Published Harrisongs Ltd
Released 22 January 2001
Recorded Abbey Road Studios, London; FPSHOT, Oxfordshire
late May–early June 1970; 2000
Genre Folk, country
Length 3:36
Label Gnome
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Harrison, Phil Spector

"I Live for You" is a song by English musician George Harrison originally recorded during the sessions for his All Things Must Pass triple album in 1970. Long available on bootlegs, the song was finally released officially as a bonus track on the 30th anniversary reissue of All Things Must Pass in January 2001. The released recording features only Harrison's lead vocal and Pete Drake's prominent pedal-steel guitar from the 1970 album sessions, with all other instruments overdubbed by Harrison and his son Dhani in 2000. Despite the wealth of unreleased material recorded for All Things Must Pass, it was the only new song included with the album's 2001 reissue. Music critics recognise "I Live for You" as one of many George Harrison compositions that can be interpreted as both a traditional love song and a devotional song.

Composition and recording

Given Harrison's deeply held religious views, one could interpret the lyrics to "I Live for You" as expressing a spiritual devotion.[1] However, like several of his compositions, the lyrics lend themselves equally to being interpreted as a love song.[2] Harrison musical biographer Simon Leng views the song as a "balmy ballad" with a "self-contained main melodic couplet [that] is one of his most effective".[3]

Harrison taped the basic track for "I Live for You" at Abbey Road Studios in London[4] during the first batch of sessions for All Things Must Pass, between late May and the second week of June 1970.[5] On Bob Dylan's recommendation, Harrison invited Nashville musician Pete Drake to the sessions,[6] to contribute pedal steel guitar to country-influenced tracks such as "I Live for You", "Behind That Locked Door" and "All Things Must Pass".[7] Drake had similarly provided pedal steel for Dylan's excursions into the country-music genre[8] on the albums John Wesley Harding (1968) and Nashville Skyline (1969).[9]

With a considerable number of songs at his disposal, many of which had gone unused during his final years with the Beatles,[10] Harrison chose not to finish "I Live for You" after taping the basic track.[11] He later admitted to feeling dissatisfied with the version recorded in 1970, apart from Drake's contribution[12][13] and that of "the rhythm guitarist".[14] Speaking in 2001, Harrison said he had also viewed the song as being "a bit fruity".[14] As with most of the outtakes from the All Things Must Pass sessions, "I Live for You" began circulating on bootleg compilations from the late 1970s onwards; a lyric from the song's bridge provided the title for one such bootleg, Through Many Years.[11][15]

Harrison returned to the song in 2000 while overseeing the 30th anniversary reissue of his acclaimed 1970 triple album.[16] Retaining only his lead vocal and Drake's pedal steel, Harrison recorded new acoustic rhythm guitar parts and bass, while his son, Dhani Harrison, added Fender Rhodes electric piano.[17] In his liner notes in the new album booklet, Harrison states: "We fiddled around with the drum track and hopefully improved it."[12]

Release and reception

"I Live for You" appeared as one of five bonus tracks on the reissued All Things Must Pass,[17] the release of which was delayed from its true anniversary date of November 2000 until January 2001.[18] In a promotional interview with Billboard magazine in December 2000, Harrison discussed the song's inclusion on the reissue: "[The] main thing about it for me is the Pete Drake solo on pedal steel guitar. He died [in 1988], and I often thought if his family is still around, then suddenly they'll be hearing him playing this thing that they've never heard before. I really loved his pedal steel guitar – the bagpipes of country & western music."[19]

In an otherwise glowing review of the reissue, James Hunter of Rolling Stone described the bonus tracks as "inessential" and bemoaned their sequencing on the two-CD set, midway through the album's original track listing.[20] In the same publication's tribute book to Harrison, following his death from cancer in November 2001, Greg Kot praised "I Live for You" and the other "especially worthy bonus tracks" and acknowledged Drake's "fine pedal-steel solo".[21] Harrison biographer Elliot Huntley views the song as "the real plum" among the new additions to the 1970 album, with an "appropriately tender and humble" vocal from Harrison.[1] Simon Leng describes "I Live for You" as an "unreleased gem" that merited inclusion on the original All Things Must Pass more so than tracks like "I Dig Love" and the "sedate" second version of "Isn't It a Pity".[22]

Personnel

Notes

References

  • Dale C. Allison Jr., The Love There That's Sleeping: The Art and Spirituality of George Harrison, Continuum (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 978-0-8264-1917-0).
  • Keith Badman, The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001, Omnibus Press (London, 2001; ISBN 0-7119-8307-0).
  • Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-489-3).
  • The Editors of Rolling Stone, Harrison, Rolling Stone Press/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2002; ISBN 0-7432-3581-9).
  • Elliot J. Huntley, Mystical One: George Harrison – After the Break-up of the Beatles, Guernica Editions (Toronto, ON, 2006; ISBN 1-55071-197-0).
  • Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI, 2006; ISBN 1-4234-0609-5).
  • Chip Madinger & Mark Easter, Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium, 44.1 Productions (Chesterfield, MO, 2000; ISBN 0-615-11724-4).
  • Nicholas Schaffner, The Beatles Forever, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY, 1978; ISBN 0-07-055087-5).
  • Bruce Spizer, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, 498 Productions (New Orleans, LA, 2005; ISBN 0-9662649-5-9).
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