Directors – The Beatles. Producer – Apple Films Ltd.
Filmed – October 1969.
Location – Berkshire, Mull Of Kintyre and Surrey.
The one and only Beatles’ No.1 not composed by either John or Paul is George’s beautiful ballad written in 1968, towards the end of the sessions for The Beatles’ ‘White Album’. According to George, “I just got the bit about ‘something in the way she moves’ and then chord progression seemed to follow naturally.” It was finally recorded in the summer of 1969 and included on Abbey Road.
George’s original demo was done on 25 February 1969, the day of his 26th birthday. Prior to that the song had been offered to Apple recording artist Jackie Lomax for Is This What You Want?, an album George co-produced. Joe Cocker then recorded the number before The Beatles did their own version, although Cocker’s did not come out until after Abbey Road was released at the end of September 1969.
When work began on what became the final cut of ‘Something’ in early May 1969, it was to be the start of a series of sessions at which subtle tweaks and additions were made to the basic track recorded on 2 May. In addition to John, Paul and Ringo, Billy Preston was on piano with George playing guitar through a Leslie speaker – the kind normally used with a Hammond organ. The track was finally finished at Abbey Road’s Studio One in mid-August, when an orchestra consisting of 12 violins, four violas, four cellos and a string bass was added.
The decision was made to release ‘Something’ with ‘Come Together’, another Abbey Road track. The single came out first in America where it steadily climbed the charts to make No.1 on 29 November 1969, replacing the 5th Dimension’s ‘Wedding Bell Blues’. Initially both sides of the single charted separately and it was not until the seventh week of its run that the two were combined, pushing the record to the top spot.
In the UK ‘Something’ didn’t get higher than No.4. Many record buyers were purchasing albums instead, especially when the single also appeared on the album. In its review, the New Musical Express described ‘Something’ as “a quality hunk of pop”…“It’s a song that grows on you – and mark my words, it will in a big way.”
The Apple-produced promo featured all four Beatles with their wives. John and Yoko were filmed at home at Tittenhurst Park, Ascot, Paul and Linda were at their farm on the Mull of Kintyre, George and Patti (for whom the song had been written) were at ‘Kinfauns’, their house in Esher, Surrey, while footage of Ringo and Maureen was shot at ‘Brookfield’, the Starr’s home in Elstead, Surrey.
The promo had just one showing in Britain, on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in the week following the single’s release, and then only in black and white.