George, it appears, was the first Beatle to get back to work in 1968. Today he had a session at Abbey Road for his first solo project, the soundtrack for a movie called Wonderwall.

In fact he had started working on this project back in November. I haven’t written about it so far because my usual sources haven’t had much to say about it. For instance, Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions — normally a thorough and meticulous resource — mentions today’s session only in passing. This is technically because it is a George solo session, not a Beatles session, but there is no such book as The Complete George Harrison Recording Sessions.

So you have to dig a little harder for George info. As a result I only learned today that George and Eric Clapton had worked together on an instrumental called “Ski-ing” back on January 2–3, their first recording session together (Ringo was there too, natch). It sounded something like this:

At this point Clapton was a member of Cream, whose latest album Disraeli Gears had come out in November 1967. For legal reasons he would be credited as “Eddie Clayton” on the Wonderwall Music album.

Two days hence, George would fly to India to record with native musicians. I get the sense that he was pretty excited to be working on something of his own, where he was calling the shots, with no Paul or John around to suck up all the oxygen. In some of the parallel universes, this is the end of George’s tenure as a Beatle; he quits the band and perhaps is replaced by Clapton, who was just about done with Cream.

Though probably not. When George actually did (briefly) quit The Beatles, almost exactly a year from now (January 10, 1969), the other three discussed asking Clapton to replace him. John was especially keen on the idea, but it never got past the talking stage. Chances are Clapton would have turned them down: “I don’t think I could have been brought into the whole thing,” he said many years later, “because I was too much a mate of George’s.”

But it is fun to think about. Clapton to the Beatles would have been like Kevin Durant to the Warriors, no? Which makes George Harrison … um … Harrison Barnes. Yes, it all fits.

Now how can I gracefully get away from this tangent? Hey, look over there!

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