Isn’t it a Pity (1970) – George Harrison

Isn’t It a Pity is from George Harrison’s 1970 album All Things Must Pass. It was his first solo album after the break-up of the Beatles. It also featured as a double A side single with My Sweet Lord. The single was phenomenally successful in North America, and around the world. Both songs were listed at number 1 on America’s Billboard chart, for four weeks. Isn’t it a Pity was initially rejected for inclusion on releases by the Beatles in 1966. The title track All Things Must Pass was also overlooked by the Beatles. Isn’t It a Pity has been described as “a poignant reflection on The Beatles‘ coarse ending.

Isn’t it a pity?
Now isn’t it a shame?
How we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity?

Some things take so long, but how do I explain
When not too many people can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see the beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity?

The track serves as a showcase for Harrison’s slide guitar playing, a technique he introduced with All Things Must Pass. In its long fadeout, the song references the closing refrain of the Beatles’ 1968 hit “Hey Jude“. Other musicians on the recording include Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Gary Wright and the band Badfinger, while the reprise version features Eric Clapton (see the live in Japan version below) on lead guitar.

In his 1980 autobiography, Harrison explained: “‘Isn’t It a Pity’ is about whenever a relationship hits a down point … It was a chance to realise that if I felt somebody had let me down, then there’s a good chance I was letting someone else down.” His lyrics adopt a nonjudgmental tone throughout. According to musicologist and critic Wilfrid Mellers, writing in 1973, “Isn’t It a Pity” blends the three song types embraced by Harrison as a solo artist – love song, rock song and hymn. He viewed it as the “key-song” on Harrison’s post-Beatles debut solo album.

1. Isn’t It a Pity – Wikipedia

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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30 comments on “Isn’t it a Pity (1970) – George Harrison
  1. Badfinger (Max) says:

    This IS my favorite George Harrison song…hands down. Over anything he did…I liked it much more than My Sweet Lord.

    • A great song. Apart from the Wilbury’s stuff my favourite from him is ‘Give Me Love’.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I like that one also. There is another hit he had in 78-79 called “Blow Away” that is very underrated. It gets lost when people talk about his songs. Very optimistic song.

      • Going to listen to it. Ty Max.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        No problem Matt… you might like it.

      • I really like the verses and the ‘blow away’ line. I think he has one of the most agreeable voices I have heard in Rock. Don Williams Country and Harrison in Rock. God blessed them with those voices and/or they worked there butts off to achieve that sound.

        I’m going to have to let that one (Blow Away) simmer. There is another song which sounds so much like it especially in the verses, but I’m trying to work out which one.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        It’s not his best but I do like it because it’s so optimistic. I heard it when I was 11 and bought the album.

      • It’s Jame Blunt’s ‘Goodbye my Lover’ which sounds so similar in the verses. Nearly a rip-off. Haha I sent Blow Away out to all. It’s growing on me.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Wow! You are good at finding these sound alikes. It does have the same feel about it.

      • The melody in the verse is the same in both songs but James did it slower in ‘Goodbye’. There is no doubt Harrison’s ‘Blow Away’ had some input into this even subconsciously.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I have to agree with you.

      • Thanks Max. It’s good to know that I’m not just hearing things. Hehe.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        No you are not…Bailey was with me when we listened…he agreed.

      • Bailey has good ears along with his Pa. If Harrison was still alive he might have had issues with it or maybe not for his agreeable disposition.
        Tomorrow my favourite post 2000 ballad comes out and I’m so excited. I love it so much. It took me 3 hours to write the article. It’s probably not up your alley music-wise, but it turned my world upside down after I heard it. Hehe

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I’m looking forward to reading it Matt! It will be later in the day here because of Thanksgiving but I will be here!
        I post my favorite Thanksgiving movie tomorrow.

      • Planes, Trains and Autombiles?

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        You have it! We watch it every year.

      • It’s the best! We watched it all a few times. The kids loved it. ‘Those aren’ t Pillows’!

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY!…. Oh they just released a new release of it that contains over 75 minutes of new footage.

      • I would love to see the new release! Can you believe when I asked Connie about ‘Blow Away’ which song sounds so familiar in the verses and she guessed it straight away lol. James Blunt, she asked. And she’s Colombian and hardly speaks English. lol

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        That proves it! He created the same atmosphere…they are really similar.

      • The verses are equal in melody and chord structure and that’s where it ends. I didn’t write about ‘Goodbye My Lover’ because I didn’t think it aged well. Anyhows, now I’m going to have to write about both songs because of the connection. Blow Away is a great song.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I’m glad you like it Matt… He had tobe influenced by that song.
        Off topic: I’ve been watching a treasure hunter named Bondi (youtube name) and he is from Australia…I don’t think I’ve seen any stretch of water as beautiful as the port in Sydney.

      • Yeh, well they are both English. There’s no way he wouldn’t have heard of it in his childhood.
        I was born and lived many years in Sydney and lived by the harbour in the Navy. I have to agree with you there although my favourite Australian city is Melbourne and that’s for other reasons. I’ll check it out.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        You was very fortunate to have that view!

      • Yeh, it was something, but when you are born into it, you don’t realise how lucky you are until you live in places less glamorous. I know I took it for granted. I sailed on the harbour with one of my students and saw Dylan in 2001 at Centennial Park the night before his Oscar win. – all on the same day. To live in Sydney now, unless you are a millionaire is almost out of the question. The property prices are amongst the highest in the world. But yes, it is a beautiful harbour – panoramically.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Yes we are all guilty of that I guess. I have taken Nashville for granted like the Ryman and other things that I’m so used to that I don’t think about it.
        What a day for you that was! You know the one thing though about Australia…is the dangerous animals over there! It seems like every animal there can kill you lol.

      • That’s it. We are all envious of what we don’t have. It doesn’t matter where you live, it matters your attitude and perspective on life. You might think, if I live there my life will change or be better, but it’s bs.
        It made me laugh what you said about dangerous animals in Australia. I remember my father chopping in half some of the most dangerous snakes in the world as he was gardening. You didn’t think about it. Here in Colombia if someone sees a ‘fly’ they go apesh&t. It’s just how things are. Haha

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        LOL…yea that is all true!

      • Yep James got that melody from this song (verses) in some way.

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