50 YEARS AGO the Charts recorded the best-selling “singles” of each week. Have the hits of 1971 stood the test of half a century of time slipping by since they were released? Sadly, in most cases the top selling singles have not: with only some exceptions the number one hits of 1971 are either not memorable – or memorable for the wrong reasons. Join us as we look back and ask ourselves: “what were we thinking???”
This week 50 years ago a rare jewel in the crown of 1971 releases hit the top spot and spared the listening public further broadcasts of novelty single Grandad by Clive Dunne. There are many things to thank the Beatles for, and producing George Harrison so that he could do this is one of them.
Beyond that, Harrison needs no introduction. The “quiet Beatle” was not as prolific a songwriter as Lennon and McCartney, but what he lost in quantity he made up for in quality. My Sweet Lord was one of the tracks on All Things Must Pass, the triple album with which Harrison launched his solo career after the Beatles broke up in 1970. It was his first solo single, and it had worldwide success: the biggest selling single of 1971 in the UK.
What sounds, from its title, like a Christian song was in fact written in praise of Krishna, the Hindu god – but the lyrics echo a number of religions: together, they call for an end to religious dogma and discord. Later in 1971, Harrison joined forces with Ravi Shankar to organise the Concert for Bangladesh. It was in fact two concerts, which aimed to raise awareness of the plight of Bangladeshi refugees caught up in the war of independence. Footage of the concert is cut into this live recording.
Two months after Harrison died in 2002, My Sweet Lord was re-released reached the number one spot in the UK again. It was a fitting tribute for a modest man with a great talent.
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