Beware Of Darkness

Album: All Things Must Pass (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, George Harrison warns against falling victim to the negativity that surrounds us. Having been through the breakup with The Beatles, he experienced intense pressure and the many unpleasant byproducts that come with the rock star lifestyle. There is also a political component here, as he sings:

    Beware of greedy leaders
    They take you where you should not go


    Harrison often looked to spirituality as a means to escape the darkness.
  • Harrison was an avid gardener, and he made an arboreal reference in this song:

    Weeping Atlas Cedars
    They just want to grow, grow and grow


    Harrison was likely referring to the Blue Atlas Cedar tree, a sturdy conifer that can grow strong under adverse conditions.
  • This was a track from Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass. Bobby Whitlock played keyboards at the sessions. He was brought in for his skill on the organ, but ended up playing a different instrument on this song. Says Whitlock, "'Beware Of Darkness' was the first time I ever played piano. They needed a piano player for that, and I decided that's what I'm going to do. That was my first recorded piano thing."
  • Some of the guys who played on this were members of Delaney And Bonnie's band. Whitlock told Songfacts how it came together: "George went out for a couple of dates with us when we were on tour with Eric (Clapton). George, Paul and them had broken up. I was friends with George when all this was happening. He was playing me the songs he wanted to do on his record. I spent a lot of time out there at Friar Park. George plays me all this stuff. He wanted to do his first record after The Beatles - he never got to do his own stuff, just one song on each album.

    He wanted to know what Eric and I thought about putting a band together for his album. Eric and I were already talking about it, and we had already talked about having Jim Keltner come over and be in our band. Keltner was the original drummer, and Carl Radle. They were out on tour, they were still doing Mad Dogs (Joe Cocker's album). It turns out Jim Gordon and Carl come storming in from the Mad Dogs And Englishmen thing. We started right in on the session. I made a call, I called Carl Radle and Jim Keltner. Keltner was on the road with Gabor Szabo, and Carl Radle was on the road with Leon (Russell) and them. I talked to Keltner, and Keltner was going to come over when he got finished, but Jim Gordon got finished with that Mad Dogs thing and he stormed right on over and was in on it right away. The availability was there for a drummer, and Jim Gordon seized the moment. Keltner said Jim Gordon's been taking some pretty important gigs from him in Derek and the Dominos and All Things Must Pass. He was there and the need was immediate, so he filled the slot.

    The Dominos were formed during the recording of All Things Must Pass. Carl and Jim wound up coming out to Eric's at Hurtwood Edge and we stayed out there and rehearsed. That got to be too much, so we got the Domino flat in town on 33 Turlough Street. We got out of Eric's place and the three of us were in downtown London raising all manner of hell and unrest."
  • The only time Harrison performed this song live was at the Concert For Bangladesh, a charity show he organized to help Bangladeshi refugees in India. It took place on August 1, 1971, with two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Harrison's backup band included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and members of Badfinger, whose album Straight Up Harrison was producing when he got pulled away to organize the concert (Todd Rundgren finished it). The live album for the concert won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
  • "Here Comes The Sun" played when Ivanka Trump took the podium at the Republican National Convention, where she spoke on behalf of her father, Donald Trump. The Harrison estate suggested that this song would have been a better choice, Tweeting: "The unauthorized use of #HereComestheSun at the #RNCinCLE is offensive & against the wishes of the George Harrison estate. If it had been Beware of Darkness, then we MAY have approved it! #TrumpYourself"
  • Sheryl Crow recorded a version with Eric Clapton, Sting and Brandi Carlile for her 2019 collaborative album Threads. She told Apple that All Things Must Pass is her "desert island album." The singer added that she wanted to cover the song both as a tribute to Harrison, but also as a message to her children "to let them know that while they're living through what we're going through, they must witness people either moving towards light or moving towards darkness."

Comments: 24

  • Taytatee from KentuckyIf Olivia knew anything about the little guy she would know we want our freedom to accomplish our goals and aspirations. Like the freedom George got after the arguably Lennon/ McCartney repression (Darkness). We do NOT want big socialistic government (Weeping Atlas Cedar) that grow and grow. We do NOT want politicians who leave office with millions they didnt earn (Greedy leaders). We do NOT want BIG Government that tax and spend (Taxman) and interfere in daily privacy (Piggies). OLIVIA come out of your Crackerbox Palace and donate to the causes you believe and leave the rest of us in peace. #TrumpLandslide2020
  • Charley from Vero Beach Bei, that might be, nor were the rest of the band named for anything. Just read the words. George was actually relieved after the break up. He was ready to record his songs. Songs that might have made some albums better. He was a nice man really if you could meet him. He cherished his privacy after all those screaming teens at the concerts. They couldn't even hear them playing. Yoko wasn't the reason why they broke up, it was that John brought her to the studio, and the Beatles worked a certain way. Then it was a distraction, and why they were all getting on each others nerves. George was speaking about the times and what was happening.
    Beware of Greedy Leaders, was a reference to Nixon AND the Vatican dealing in stocks and owning a large % of General Motors. Not very religious thar. It's one of my faves on the album, but all are really great. My favorite is "Isn't It a Pity"
    A song about the break up is on his Living in the Material World album, titled Sue Me, Sue You Blues. I still own my original from 71, sealed. I bought 2 at the time one to play and one for display. All the musicians on the album are phenomenal, but didn't get album credits because of their own record companies terms. That was rectified in 2000, on ATMP 2000 re-release. Peace be within and without you...
  • Jim from Uk'Beware of darkness' is another great, very sad but beautiful song by George. Agree he was underrated as a Beatle but he really flowered as a writer and composer after they broke up. A great musician and poet and I think also a good person. It hadn't occurred to me that he wrote this in response to the break-up but it does ring true. It also speaks to the bad things that can happen to all of us. I was listening to the 'All things must pass' album this afternoon and was struck by how the lyrics of this song relate to the dreadful events in Paris last Friday. The words can variously be read as directed at the victims, their loved ones, or the murderers. I found listening to it unbearably sad. Great art. George's spirit lives on.
  • Bei from IllinoisIt is interesting to me that no one comments about the meaning of this song. George was very depressed about the breakup of the Beatles, and personally shattered by the whole experience. He is bitter about each of them: Ringo (the fallen swinger) John (the soft shoe shuffler) and Paul (the greedy leader). He is telling people not to follow them, that the Beatles were just another form of illusion (Maya) and that it was not the correct path, for him or anyone else.
  • Meocyber from Alma, Co ATMP was just a great continuation of George's apex as a songwriter. From " Only a Northern Song" on, George went super nova, "Something", "Here comes..." he really grew. "Beware", "My Sweet Lord", "What is life?" and " I got my mind" are my favorite post Beatles George music. I'd totally loved to meet any/all of them.
  • Heisenberg from New York, NyGeorge is my favorite of all the Beatles. He certainly had the most style. He wasn't the natural songwriter like John or Paul but he obviously learned from them. During his solo career I would put his albums against any albums by John or Paul. To me, Johns best albums were Plastic Ono Band, Imagine. Paul, Band on the Run, Ram. To this day I still listen to all of Georges albums.
  • Jema from South Portland, MeI love the acoustic version,George is my second fave Beatle soloist.My first is John.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeGeorge's 2 greatest songs after going on his own.....Beware Of Darkness & Isn't It A Pity!
  • Rick from Belfast, MeJust like side 2 of Abbey Road contain the greatest rock songs by a band.....George's "Beware Of Darkness" rates as the greatest song by a former Beatle!!!!!!!!
  • Kurtisle from Sacramento, CaRasa Bihari Das, just to straighten the facts. George Harrison was/is a Hindi, not Krishna. But your fact on Maya is shared by Buddhist, like myself, Krishnas and Hindis.
  • Tony from Eugene, OrI heard this song on the "Concert for George" DVD last year. It has a beautiful chord progression and intriguing lyrics. I think Clapton's tibute version from this concert surpasses the "Bangaladesh" version. It has motivated me to look more deeply into George's solo songs for other treasures.
  • Zanegrey from Wimberley, Txa very beautiful moody song by George- he was an unusual song writer..very under rated and somewhat over shadowed by Lennon McCartney and yet his understated songs and style fit the Beatles perfectly. and he was a nifty guitar player. ( he got into the beatles because he could finger pick)

    I am sure by the time the Beatles broke up he had a love hate thing going- it always chaffes to stand just outside the limelight.

    he was my favourite Beatle !
  • Boots from Manila, Philippinesthis song is undoubtedly one of George's best. I also agree that the version in the Concert for Bangladesh was awesome, with Leon dishing out his own style in the second verse. I wonder who did the lead guitar part..was it George or Eric Clapton?
  • Paul from Brooklyn, NyThis song saved my life so many times when I was depressed from my divorce. It gave me the strength to go on. It was equal to dozens of therapy sesions. It a great song for all time.
  • Rasa Bihari Das from Tamworth, Uk, EnglandGeorge was a Hare Krishna remember? When he said beware of Maya he meant the illusion. Maya means "that which is not." He meant beware of trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master God, this is called illusion. Maya makes us think we are these bodies not souls etc, makes us lust after them, eat meat, take drugs etc that ;eads to suffering. Beware of Maya indeed, cheers George x
  • Ethan from HelsinkiThe theme of this song appears to be a wee bit more pessimistic than most of George Harrison's stuff. A lot of what he wrote was so optimistic, it seemed. This is by far my favorite song of his.
  • Richard from Anniston, AlI agree with Alan in Michigan. While this is a fantastic song, the "Concert for Bangla Desh" version was absolutely awesome with Leon coming in on the 3rd verse giving it a very emotional, bluesy feel. I think this was also Leon's first vocal of the concert. Leon also did a cover of this on the "Leon Russell and the Shelter People" album, which, I think, was much faster and sounded very little like George's original.
  • Duncan from Haverhill, MaWhat I get out of this song is the idea that it isn't the events in our lives, its how we choose to react to them that can lead to darkness/sadness/maya. We need to beware lest we fall into the addiction becoming our feelings.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI believe this song is like "Watch out, expect the unexpected" things like that.
  • Laura from Spencerport, NyMy favorite George song ever. Like a 'don't worry, be happy' vibe, but still be cautious and aware of your surroundings. amazing. the world misses you, george.
  • Paul from Arlington, TxOne of the Best songs on All things must pass... George Harrison was one of the greatest song writers ever.
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaThis is one of my favorite songs on "All Things Must Pass" I miss George so much. I would never knock John, Paul or Ringo's solo work, but George wrote the most awesone, the most REAL songs. They always say something worthwhile.
  • Alan from City, MiOops! I mean Leapin' Leon comes in on the 3rd verse!
  • Alan from City, MiAwesome song. I like the Bangla-Desh version also with Leon Russell coming in on the second verse.
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