About The Song

Remember the turbulent times of the late 1960s? The Beatles, the band that redefined music, were undergoing a period of internal change and artistic exploration. “Only A Northern Song”, written by George Harrison and featured on the 1969 soundtrack album Yellow Submarine, stands as a unique and layered composition within their vast repertoire. While seemingly lighthearted on the surface, the song delves into themes of creative ownership, frustration, and a touch of self-deprecating humor.

“Only A Northern Song” differs from the band’s earlier, pop-driven hits. It’s a quirky and experimental piece with a playful melody, punctuated by unexpected tempo changes and sound effects. George Harrison’s vocals are playful and slightly sardonic, reflecting the song’s underlying message. The instrumentation, a blend of acoustic guitar, harpsichord, and orchestral flourishes, creates a whimsical yet introspective atmosphere.

The lyrics themselves are a clever mix of playful nonsense and veiled criticism. Lines like “It’s only a northern song, composed for a northern town” and “I wrote it in the pouring rain” dance between lightheartedness and a subtle jab at the music industry. “Only A Northern Song” is believed to be a commentary on Harrison’s frustration with Northern Songs, the music publishing company that owned the rights to many of his early compositions. He felt he wasn’t receiving proper recognition or financial compensation for his work.

Despite its underlying message, “Only A Northern Song” avoids being a straightforward protest song. The playful melody and nonsensical lyrics add a layer of humor, making it a more nuanced and intriguing listen. It showcases Harrison’s growing confidence as a songwriter, his willingness to experiment with form, and his ability to address serious issues with a touch of wit.

More than just a personal story, “Only A Northern Song” resonates with anyone who has grappled with the complexities of creative ownership and the challenges of navigating the music industry. The themes of frustration, seeking recognition, and the bittersweet nature of creation are universal experiences, making the song relatable despite its specific context.

So, put on your headphones and let “Only A Northern Song” wash over you. Allow yourself to be swept up in its playful melody and unexpected twists. Uncover the layers of meaning hidden within the seemingly nonsensical lyrics, and appreciate Harrison’s subtle yet impactful commentary on the music industry. It’s a testament to The Beatles’ enduring legacy, a reminder that even within a playful song, there can be layers of meaning waiting to be discovered.