Got My Mind Set on George Harrison

I recently watched the new two-part Martin Scorsese documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Overall, the documentary is interesting and informative, but often it seemed like the film was giving us hints about the man more than a story. But we can never fully understand a person, so really all we have are hints.

The film used a lot of George Harrison’s music. Scorsese seems to have a real fondness for “All Things Must Pass,” which is an excellent title song from what is generally considered Harrison’s best post-Beatles work. But for the last part of Harrison’s career, the film gave us a short glimpse of his Traveling Wilbury’s work while completely overlooking his last solo hit, “Got My Mind Set on You.”

“Got My Mind Set on You,” which appeared on Harrison’s album Cloud Nine (1988) after its release as a single, was Harrison’s last number one single in the U.S. The song, however, was not a Harrison original. It was written by Rudy Clark and was recorded by James Ray twenty-five years earlier in 1962. I love Ray’s version too.

Maybe Living in the Material World did not use “Got My Mind Set on You” because there was a rights issue. Or maybe Scorsese saw the song as one of Harrison’s lesser works and sees it the same way “Weird Al” Yankovic does.

Still, I recall in 1987-1988 that the song was a huge hit constantly playing on the radio. Along with the CD and the Beatle-esque “When We Was Fab,” the radio-friendly song was a nice return from Harrison, who had not released an album for more than a decade. The album also led to Harrison recruiting a few friends to record a B-side to one of the songs on Cloud Nine, “This is Love.” And those friends — Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison — ended up forming The Traveling Wilburys. While Harrison’s recording of “Got My Mind Set On You” may not be Harrison’s best recording, that is no insult considering the quality of his catalog. And it is an excellent catchy pop song.

{Note: Harrison made another video for “Got My Mind Set on You” too, intercutting his performance with scenes from a fair arcade.}

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    3 thoughts on “Got My Mind Set on George Harrison”

    1. Thanks for the post. Maybe I’ll check out the movie. George was my favorite Beatle when I was little. (I’ve since moved on to John, though I guess you always carry a little torch for your first love.)

    2. Yes, you both should check out the movie. It also features some interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

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