The Fab 50: The Beatles' 50 Greatest Guitar Moments
Check out Guitar World's guide to the Fab 50 — the Beatles' 50 finest guitar moments!
Bassist Paul McCartney had first demonstrated his six-string talents on 1965’s Help!, where he played lead guitar on several tracks and performed on acoustic guitar for his song “Yesterday.”
But McCartney would truly come into his own as a guitarist with this cut from 1966’s Revolver. His stinging solo, performed on his 1962 Epiphone Casino through his cream-colored 1964 Bassman amp, is a stunningly sophisticated creation, drawn from an Indian-derived Dorian mode and featuring descending pull-offs that recall Jeff Beck’s work on the Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things,” released earlier that year.
How the solo came to be played by McCartney—and not Harrison, who wrote the song and was the Beatles’ lead guitarist—is a story in itself.
According to Geoff Emerick, Harrison struggled for two hours to craft a solo before producer George Martin suggested he let McCartney give it a try. McCartney’s solo, Emerick says, “was so good that George Martin had me fly it in again during the song’s fadeout.” Portions of it, played backward, were also applied to the Revolver track “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
Apparently, Harrison didn’t feel slighted. At the time of making Revolver, he was ambivalent about his musical ambitions and pondering Indian mysticism, to which he would eventually convert.
“In those days,” he said, “for me to be allowed to do my one song on the album, it was like, ‘Great. I don’t care who plays what. This is my big chance.’ I was pleased to have him play that bit on ‘Taxman.’ If you notice, he did like a little Indian bit on it for me.”
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