Every UK Number One Song: My Sweet Lord

“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison was Number One on 30th January 1971 and stayed there for five weeks.

So after 3 weeks at the top Clive Dunn was overtaken by George Harrison with song My Sweet Lord which stayed there for 5 weeks.

I remember this song well. It was so easy to sing along – well actually I think it was mostly the refrain ‘My Sweet Lord’. I also loved the guitar work. There is too much for me to try and write about this song so here is Wikipedia’s take on it.

“My Sweet Lord” is a song by English musician and former Beatle George Harrison that was released in November 1970 on his triple album All Things Must Pass. Also issued as a single, Harrison’s first as a solo artist, “My Sweet Lord” topped charts worldwide and was the biggest-selling single of 1971 in the UK. In America and Britain, the song was the first number 1 single by an ex-Beatle. Harrison originally gave the song to his fellow Apple Records artist Billy Preston to record; this version, which Harrison co-produced, appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album in September 1970.

Harrison wrote “My Sweet Lord” in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, while at the same time intending the lyrics to serve as a call to abandon religious sectarianism through his deliberate blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of “Hare Krishna” and Vedic prayer. The recording features producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound treatment and heralded the arrival of Harrison’s much-admired slide guitar technique, which one biographer described as being “musically as distinctive a signature as the mark of Zorro”.Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and the group Badfinger are among the other musicians appearing on the recording.

But… there was a downside to fame…

Later in the 1970s, “My Sweet Lord” was at the centre of a heavily publicised copyright infringement suit, due to its similarity to the Ronnie Mack song “He’s So Fine”, a 1963 hit for the New York girl group the Chiffons. In 1976, Harrison was found to have subconsciously plagiarised the earlier tune, a verdict that had repercussions throughout the music industry. He claimed to have used the out-of-copyright “Oh Happy Day”, a Christian hymn, as his inspiration for the song’s melody.

I remember this well. It sent shock waves through out the world. Myself, I always thought that it was very similar to the Christian hymn.

There were many covers of this song, and George Harrison even reached number 1 after his death in 2002.

It reached number 1 down here in New Zealand too, but first The Seekers had to get in after the holiday break for us.

Then My Sweet Lord was top for 4 weeks. We were about a week behind getting the new singles – not like the digital world now when it is instant. The records had to be physically transported on a plane. Thus the delay.

So it is back to the future here in New Zealand.