'Unreleased' Harrison Song on Web Site

By | December 7, 2001 at 12:00 AM

A Beatles’ shop in Liverpool, the birthplace of the world’s most famous band, has put what it says is a previously unreleased audio version of the last public recording by guitarist George Harrison on its Web site.

A music industry source told Reuters he gave his recording of “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going,” which he said Harrison played for an audience at music studios in Michigan in 1997, to the “From Me To You” shop in the northern English port.

“I just thought it was a fitting tribute, a ray of light for the fans at this time,” he said.

The song, posted on the shop’s Web site, is a country-style, folksy guitar piece, which fans said reminded them of the “Traveling Wilburys,” the instant supergroup whose members included Harrison and Bob Dylan.

Fans of the “Quiet Beatle,” who died in Los Angeles on November 29, are convinced he sang it.

“I have just spoken to one man who played at the Cavern more times than the Beatles and he said it sounds like George,” said Steve Barnes, manager of the store in a shopping center at the site of the Cavern Club, where the Beatles played 292 times.

“In fact, all the people I have heard from who have listened to the track said it sounds like him,” said Barnes, adding that he had not yet heard the song.

The five-minute recording begins with narration from a man working at the VH1 studios, where the song is said to have been recorded during a visit by Harrison and his Indian musician friend Ravi Shankar and Shankar’s wife.

“I very rudely and brazenly asked if he would consider playing a song for us… He thrilled us all with a brand new song he had never played in public before,” he said.

“I must be the only person who doesn’t know his own songs,” the guitarist, identified as George, jokes, before he begins singing with the words: “I’ve been traveling on a boat and a plane and a car and a bike and a bus and a plane.”

The music industry source said he believed VH1 no longer had the original recording, adding that he had received his copy of the song from the narrator heard on the Web site version.

Cable TV channel VH1, the Ravi Shankar Foundation and Parlophone – owned by EMI Group Plc and the label to which the Beatles originally signed for in 1962 – were unavailable for comment.

In the months before his death, Harrison was reported to have been quietly finishing work on 25 unreleased tracks for a final album, provisionally titled “Portrait of a Leg End,” an apparent nod at his ambivalent attitude toward fame.

British newspapers have speculated that EMI will re-release Harrison’s mystical “My Sweet Lord” – the first number one single by a solo Beatle – for Christmas shoppers.

Decisions about if and when to release Harrison’s songs would presumably fall to Harrison’s wife, Olivia, since the guitarist was not signed to any record label.

“If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going,” is published on http://www.beatles64.co.uk

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