Tired of Midnight Blue

Last updated

"Tired of Midnight Blue"
Song by George Harrison
from the album Extra Texture (Read All About It)
Released22 September 1975
Genre Rock
Label Apple
Songwriter(s) George Harrison
Producer(s) George Harrison

"Tired of Midnight Blue" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released on his 1975 album Extra Texture (Read All About It) . It was written after a night out with music-industry executives in Los Angeles – an event that Harrison found particularly depressing. The recording includes contributions from Leon Russell, on piano, and Jim Keltner, who plays drums and percussion.


Along with the hit single "You", "Tired of Midnight Blue" is one of the few songs on Extra Texture that has consistently been received with favour by music critics and reviewers. Writing for Classic Rock magazine, Paul Trynka describes it as "a beautifully constructed lament to a tedious night out". [1]


Since the early 1970s, George Harrison regularly spent part of spring and summer each year in Los Angeles, the recognised capital of the music industry worldwide. [2] In 1971, he produced Ravi Shankar's Raga soundtrack album there, as well as recording his and Shankar's Bangladesh benefit singles. [3] [4] In 1973, he worked with Shankar once more, on Shankar Family & Friends , at A&M Studios in Hollywood, before going on to make guest appearances on albums by Ringo Starr ( Ringo ), Cheech & Chong ( Los Cochinos ) and Dave Mason ( It's Like You Never Left ) at Sunset Sound and other studios around town. [2] [5] [6] [7] When visiting him in Malibu in April 1971, Harrison's friend Chris O'Dell had found him lonely and keen to escape the hangers-on associated with the LA rock world, [8] just as Klaus Voormann has noted that installing a state-of-the-art studio at his Friar Park home would allow Harrison to do the same from the London music scene. [9]

The 1973 visit saw Harrison indulging in more traditional rock-star pursuits, [10] the Cheech & Chong session "morally ... a bit shaky", biographer Alan Clayson has suggested, [11] so beginning a period Harrison himself termed as his "naughty" years; [12] Voormann called it a "step back". [13] By March 1975, still "reeling" from the "barbarous reaction" to both his 1974 tour with Shankar and the Dark Horse album, according to musical biographer Simon Leng, Harrison was back in Los Angeles, this time as the head of his own independent record label. [14] Dark Horse Records had recently signed a handful of new acts in Jiva, Stairsteps and Attitudes, all of whom were American-based, [15] a reality that meant Harrison was domiciled in California with girlfriend Olivia Arias all through the summer. [16]

Composition and recording

A much-in-demand session musician, Klaus Voormann recalls of this period in Los Angeles: "It was a terrible time because I think there was a lot of cocaine going around, and that's when I got out of the picture ... I realised that it was the whole Hollywood thing – the problem was that if you wanted to stay in that scene, you had to hang out with those people, and go and do the clubs ... George was in it too far at the time, and it was a good step of his to get out of it." [16] Harrison would later credit his prolonged bout of hepatitis in early 1976 as the reason he quit heavy drinking, [17] but as an industry boss in the spring of 1975, he too found himself in the LA clubs. [16] One such night left him "depressed by what I saw going on there", as he put it in his autobiography, when discussing the song "Tired of Midnight Blue". [18]

Over a "smoky, bluesy" musical backing, [19] the song's first verse and chorus outline his thoughts upon returning home to his lover after the night in question, as a new day is just beginning:

The sun came into view
As I sat with the tears in my eyes
The sun came up on you
And as you smiled, the tear-drop it dried.

I don't know where I had been
But I know what I had seen
Made me chill right to the bone
Made me wish that I'd stayed home – along with you
Tired of midnight blue.

Musically, over the "along with you / Tired of midnight blue" lines of the choruses, the song drops from what author Alan Clayson terms its "'Badge'-style rhythmic lope", [20] propelled by Harrison's strong seventh chords on soul-inflected rhythm guitar and Jim Keltner's drums and cowbell, to reveal sweeping "tumbleweed" piano from Leon Russell [21] and a rare Extra Texture slide-guitar commentary from Harrison. [22]

The second verse then describes the morning progressing, and with it an increased clarity of mind:

The sun came up so high
As it shone, I realised your love
The sun shone in your eyes
And as you smiled, you realised it too.

By the final verse, the sun is setting and the moon now rises. "Way up, the clouds told me that they knew," Harrison sings before recognising the truth reflected in his lover: "And as you smiled, I knew that you knew too."

While discussing the song with BBC Radio 1's Paul Gambaccini that September, [23] Harrison praised Russell's "fantastic" piano contribution [24] after introducing the track with a laconic "You know those nights you go out and wish you hadn't? It's one of those ..." [25] "Tired of Midnight Blue" was recorded on 21 April that year, again at A&M Studios, [26] as "Midnight Blue"; the title was subsequently altered once Melissa Manchester had a hit with a song of that name over the summer. [18] [25]

Release and reception

"Tired of Midnight Blue" was issued on Extra Texture (Read All About It) in September 1975 and was one of the few songs on the album to garner positive reviews. Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone described it as "well done" and "cryptic in the manner of 'Blue Jay Way'". [22] Together with "Can't Stop Thinking About You", it provided, in Marsh's words, "the most effective nine minutes of music Harrison's made since his solo career began. 'Midnight Blue' even features some of the guitar work Harrison so assiduously avoids elsewhere." [22]

While viewing Extra Texture as predominantly "mournful and doom-laden", the NME 's Neil Spencer wrote: "'Tired of Midnight Blue' makes more constructive use of Hari finding his heart in his boots. There's a tune, some moderately tricksy chord changes and a refreshing simplicity in sight. The relative sparsity gives Leon Russell the chance to play some charming tumbledown piano, George meshes some crisp rhythm guitar against his own lead; and it works." [27] [28]

More recently, Seattle-based critic [29] Chaz Lipp writes that "The [album's] essential cut is the grooving 'Tired of Midnight Blue.'" [30] New Zealand Herald journalist Graham Reid similarly opines: "The best track might just be the moody Tired of Midnight Blue, in which [Harrison] admits to getting weary of indulging himself in nightclub 'naughtiness' and just wanting to be back home. He fills it with dog-tiredness and a sense of self-loathing." [31] In another 2014 review, for Classic Rock magazine, Paul Trynka describes the track as "a beautifully constructed lament to a tedious night out" and includes it among the album's "confessional songs that have worn well". [1]

Although he sees it as one of a number of tunes on Extra Texture that are "almost watered-down flashbacks to The Beatles", Alan Clayson opines: "In its contradiction of enjoyable depression, only 'Tired of Midnight Blue' passed muster." [32] On an album containing songs that he views as either "threadbare" or "medium-grade self-pastiche", author Chris Ingham writes that "[t]hings look up during Tired of Midnight Blue, a sassy soft-shoe shuffle ... [and] on His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen)." [33] In his overview of Harrison's first decade as a solo artist, David Cavanagh of Uncut admires the song as "this LP's 'Beware of Darkness' – i.e. where did he get those chords?" [34]

Simon Leng identifies "Tired of Midnight Blue" as the "only piece that really worked from every angle" and, aside from the album's lead single, "You", "the best song on Extra Texture". [35] Leng describes it as "an introvert's rejection of the 'rock'n'roll' life" and the "reaction" to Dark Horse's "tale of booze and birds" that was "Simply Shady". [36] Pointing to the way ahead in Harrison's career, Leng continues, "['Tired of Midnight Blue'] summarises George's intention to head back to his English garden and the comfort of family life." [21]


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Concert for Bangladesh</span> 1971 benefit concert organised by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar

The Concert for Bangladesh was a pair of benefit concerts organised by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. The shows were held at 2:30 and 8:00 pm on Sunday, 1 August 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to raise international awareness of, and fund relief for refugees from East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War-related genocide. The concerts were followed by a bestselling live album, a boxed three-record set, and Apple Films' concert documentary, which opened in cinemas in the spring of 1972.

<i>Extra Texture (Read All About It)</i> 1975 studio album by George Harrison

Extra Texture is the sixth studio album by English musician George Harrison, released on 22 September 1975. It was Harrison's final album under his contract with Apple Records and EMI, and the last studio album issued by Apple. The release came nine months after his troubled 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar and the poorly received Dark Horse album.

<i>Dark Horse</i> (George Harrison album) 1974 studio album by George Harrison

Dark Horse is the fifth studio album by English rock musician George Harrison. It was released on Apple Records in December 1974 as the follow-up to Living in the Material World. Although keenly anticipated on release, Dark Horse is associated with the controversial North American tour that Harrison staged with Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar in November and December that year. This was the first US tour by a member of the Beatles since 1966, and the public's nostalgia for the band, together with Harrison contracting laryngitis during rehearsals and choosing to feature Shankar so heavily in the programme, resulted in scathing concert reviews from some influential music critics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Harrison discography</span>

The discography of English singer-songwriter and former member of the Beatles, George Harrison consists of 12 studio albums, two live albums, four compilation albums, 35 singles, two video albums and four box sets. Harrison's first solo releases – the Wonderwall Music film soundtrack (1968) and Electronic Sound (1969) – were almost entirely instrumental works, issued during the last two years of the Beatles' career. Following the band's break-up in April 1970, Harrison continued to produce recordings by his fellow Apple Records acts, notably former bandmate Ringo Starr. He recorded and collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Shankar, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Gary Wright.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dark Horse (George Harrison song)</span> 1974 song by George Harrison

"Dark Horse" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison and the title track to his 1974 solo album on Apple Records. The song was the album's lead single in North America, becoming a top-20 hit in the United States, but it was Harrison's first single not to chart in Britain when issued there in February 1975. The term "dark horse" had long been applied to Harrison due to his unexpected emergence as the most accomplished solo artist of the four former Beatles following the band's break-up in 1970. In the song, however, he said he used the phrase in reference to gossip about someone who carries out clandestine sexual relationships. Commentators interpret the lyrics as a rebuttal to several possible detractors: Harrison's first wife, Pattie Boyd; reviewers who criticised the spiritual content of his 1973 album Living in the Material World; and his former bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Harrison named his Dark Horse record label after the song, and his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar came to be known as the Dark Horse Tour.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ding Dong, Ding Dong</span> 1974 single by George Harrison

"Ding Dong, Ding Dong" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, written as a New Year's Eve singalong and released in December 1974 on his album Dark Horse. It was the album's lead single in Britain and some other European countries, and the second single, after "Dark Horse", in North America. A large-scale production, the song incorporates aspects of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique, particularly his Christmas recordings from 1963. In addition, some Harrison biographers view "Ding Dong" as an attempt to emulate the success of two glam rock anthems from the 1973–74 holiday season: "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade, and Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday". The song became only a minor hit in Britain and the United States, although it was a top-twenty hit elsewhere in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">You (George Harrison song)</span> 1975 single by George Harrison

"You" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released as the opening track of his 1975 album Extra Texture . It was also the album's lead single, becoming a top 20 hit in America and reaching number 9 in Canada. A 45-second instrumental portion of the song, titled "A Bit More of You", appears on Extra Texture also, opening side two of the original LP format. Harrison wrote "You" in 1970 as a song for Ronnie Spector, formerly of the Ronettes, and wife of Harrison's All Things Must Pass co-producer Phil Spector. The composition reflects Harrison's admiration for 1960s American soul/R&B, particularly Motown.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">This Guitar (Can't Keep from Crying)</span> 1975 single by George Harrison

"This Guitar " is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, released on his 1975 studio album Extra Texture . Harrison wrote the song as a sequel to his popular Beatles composition "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", in response to the personal criticism he had received during and after his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar, particularly from Rolling Stone magazine. An edit of "This Guitar" was issued as a single in December 1975, as the final release by Apple Records in its original incarnation. The single failed to chart in either the United States or Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">World of Stone</span> 1975 song by George Harrison

"World of Stone" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, released in 1975 on Extra Texture , his final album for Apple Records. It was also issued as the B-side of the album's lead single, "You". Harrison wrote the song in 1973 but recorded it two years later, following the unfavourable critical reception afforded his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar and the Dark Horse album. Due to its context on release, commentators view "World of Stone" as a plea from Harrison for tolerance from these detractors. According to some of his biographers, the lyrics reflect Harrison's doubts regarding his devotion to a spiritual path – an apparent crisis of faith that followed his often-unwelcome spiritual pronouncements during the tour, and which permeated his work throughout 1975.

"Be Here Now" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison from his 1973 album Living in the Material World. The recording features a sparse musical arrangement and recalls Harrison's work with the Beatles during 1966–1968, through its Indian-inspired mood and use of sitar drone. Part of Harrison's inspiration for the song was the popular 1971 book Be Here Now by spiritual teacher Ram Dass – specifically, a story discussing the author's change in identity from a Western academic to a guru in the Hindu faith. Some Harrison biographers interpret "Be Here Now" as a comment from him on the public's nostalgia for the past following the Beatles' break-up.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deep Blue (song)</span> 1971 single by George Harrison

"Deep Blue" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison that was released as the B-side to his 1971 charity single "Bangla Desh". Harrison wrote the song in 1970, midway through the recording sessions for All Things Must Pass, and recorded it in Los Angeles the following year while organising the Concert for Bangladesh. The composition was inspired by the deteriorating condition of his mother, Louise, before she succumbed to cancer in July 1970, and by Harrison's feelings of helplessness as he visited her in hospital in the north of England. Given the subject matter, "Deep Blue" also served to convey the suffering endured by the millions of refugees from war-torn Bangladesh in 1971, as sickness and disease became widespread among their makeshift camps in northern India.

"The Answer's at the End" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, released in 1975 on his final album for Apple Records, Extra Texture . Part of the song lyrics came from a wall inscription at Harrison's nineteenth-century home, Friar Park, a legacy of the property's original owner, Sir Frank Crisp. This aphorism, beginning "Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass", had resonated with Harrison since he bought Friar Park in 1970, and it was a quote he often used when discussing his difficult relationship with his former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney.

"Ooh Baby " is a song by English musician George Harrison, released in 1975 on his album Extra Texture . Harrison wrote the composition as a tribute to American singer Smokey Robinson, whom he often identified as one of his favourite vocalists and songwriters. The song was intended as a companion piece to Robinson's 1965 hit with the Miracles, "Ooo Baby Baby", and its inclusion on Extra Texture contributed to that album's standing as Harrison's soul music album. His impersonation of Robinson's celebrated vocal style on the track, including portions sung in falsetto, contrasted with Harrison's hoarse, laryngitis-marred singing on his 1974 North American tour and the poorly received Dark Horse album.

"Can't Stop Thinking About You" is a song by English musician George Harrison, released in 1975 on his final album for Apple Records, Extra Texture . A love song in the style of a soul/R&B ballad, it was written by Harrison in December 1973, towards the end of his marriage to Pattie Boyd and while he was having an affair with Maureen Starkey, the wife of his former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr. Having first considered the song for his 1974 release Dark Horse, Harrison recorded "Can't Stop Thinking About You" in Los Angeles in May 1975 for his so-called "soul album", Extra Texture. Some authors view its inclusion on the latter release as an obvious attempt by Harrison to commercialise the album, in response to the harsh critical reception afforded Dark Horse and his 1974 North American tour.

"Grey Cloudy Lies" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison from his 1975 album Extra Texture . Harrison wrote it in 1973 during a period that he characterised as his "naughty" years, coinciding with the failure of his marriage to Pattie Boyd and his divergence from the ascetic path of his Hindu-aligned faith. He returned to the song two years later when filled with despondency and self-doubt in response to the scathing reviews that his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar and Dark Horse album had received from several music critics.

"His Name Is Legs " is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, released in 1975 as the closing track of his album Extra Texture . The song is a tribute to "Legs" Larry Smith, the drummer with the 1960s satirical-comedy group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and one of many comedians with whom Harrison began associating during the 1970s. Smith appears on the recording, delivering a spoken monologue, while Harrison's lyrics similarly reflect the comedian's penchant for zany wordplay. The song serves as a precursor to Harrison's work with Monty Python members Eric Idle and Michael Palin, including his production of the troupe's 1975 single "The Lumberjack Song" and films such as Life of Brian (1979) that he produced under the aegis of his company HandMade Films.

"You and Me (Babe)" is a song by English musician Ringo Starr, released as the final track on his 1973 album Ringo. Starr's fellow ex-Beatle George Harrison wrote the song along with Mal Evans, the Beatles' longtime aide and a personal assistant to Starr during the making of Ringo. The track serves as a farewell from Starr to his audience in the manner of a show-closing finale, by lyrically referring to the completion of the album. During the extended fadeout, Starr delivers a spoken message in which he thanks the musicians and studio personnel who helped with the recording of Ringo – among them, Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and his producer, Richard Perry.

<i>Shankar Family & Friends</i> 1974 studio album by Ravi Shankar (on Dark Horse Records)

Shankar Family & Friends is an album by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, recorded primarily in Los Angeles during the spring of 1973, but not released until late 1974. It was produced by Shankar's friend George Harrison and one of the first releases on the ex-Beatle's Dark Horse label. Out of print for many years, and much sought after as a result, the album was remastered in 2010 and reissued as part of the Ravi Shankar–George Harrison box set Collaborations.

<i>The Place I Love</i> 1974 studio album by Splinter

The Place I Love is the debut album by English vocal duo Splinter, released on Dark Horse Records in September 1974. It was the first album released by the Dark Horse label, which was owned by George Harrison, who also produced the album. Recording sessions took place at Harrison's Friar Park home studio in Oxfordshire and featured extensive musical contributions from Harrison, on guitar, keyboards and other instruments, as well as participants such as Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner and Alvin Lee. "Costafine Town", the first single from the album, was a top-twenty hit in the United Kingdom and other countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">I Am Missing You</span>

"I Am Missing You" is a song by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, sung by his sister-in-law Lakshmi Shankar and released as the lead single from his 1974 album Shankar Family & Friends. The song is a rare Shankar composition in the Western pop genre, with English lyrics, and was written as a love song to the Hindu god Krishna. The recording was produced and arranged by George Harrison, in a style similar to Phil Spector's signature sound, and it was the first single issued on Harrison's Dark Horse record label. Other contributing musicians include Tom Scott, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, Ringo Starr and Jim Keltner. A second version appears on Shankar Family & Friends, titled "I Am Missing You (Reprise)", featuring an arrangement closer to a folk ballad.


  1. 1 2 Paul Trynka, "George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968–75", Classic Rock , November 2014, p. 105 (retrieved 29 November 2014).
  2. 1 2 Clayson, pp. 320–21.
  3. Badman, pp. 36, 38.
  4. Castleman & Podrazik, pp. 103, 107.
  5. Leng, pp. 140–41.
  6. Castleman & Podrazik, pp. 126, 128, 139.
  7. Badman, p. 92.
  8. O'Dell, pp. 186, 188–89.
  9. Leng, pp. 148–49.
  10. Badman, p. 102.
  11. Clayson, p. 330.
  12. Harrison, p. 274.
  13. Klaus Voormann interview, in George Harrison: Living in the Material World DVD (Disc 2), Village Roadshow, 2011 (directed by Martin Scorsese; produced by Olivia Harrison, Nigel Sinclair & Martin Scorsese).
  14. Leng, pp. 178, 179.
  15. Clayson, pp. 347–48.
  16. 1 2 3 Leng, p. 179.
  17. Clayson, p. 359.
  18. 1 2 Harrison, p. 308.
  19. Leng, p. 185.
  20. Clayson, p. 349.
  21. 1 2 Leng, pp. 184–85.
  22. 1 2 3 Dave Marsh, "George Harrison Extra Texture" Archived 20 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine , Rolling Stone , 20 November 1975, p. 75 (retrieved 16 May 2012).
  23. Badman, pp. 164, 165.
  24. George Harrison interview, Rockweek, "George Harrison explains 'Grey Cloudy Lies'" on YouTube (retrieved 10 July 2012).
  25. 1 2 George Harrison interview, Rockweek, "George Harrison explains 'Tired of Midnight Blue'" on YouTube (retrieved 10 July 2012).
  26. Spizer, p. 275.
  27. Neil Spencer, "George Harrison Extra Texture (Apple)", NME , 20 September 1975, p. 23.
  28. Chris Hunt (ed.), NME Originals: Beatles – The Solo Years 1970–1980, IPC Ignite! (London, 2005), p. 103.
  29. "Chaz Lipp", The Morton Report (retrieved 6 October 2014).
  30. Chaz Lipp, "Music Review: George Harrison’s Apple Albums Remastered", Blogcritics, 5 October 2014 (retrieved 6 October 2014).
  31. Graham Reid, "George Harrison Revisited, Part One (2014): The dark horse bolting out of the gate", Elsewhere, 24 October 2014 (retrieved 4 December 2014).
  32. Clayson, pp. 349–50.
  33. Ingham, pp. 134–35.
  34. David Cavanagh, "George Harrison: The Dark Horse", Uncut , August 2008, p. 47.
  35. Leng, pp. 184, 186.
  36. Leng, p. 184.