When was it recorded? Jan. 25, 1969 + Jan. 8, 1970
When was it first released, and on which album? May 8, 1970 on “Let It Be”
Who wrote it? Harrison
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
I dug up surprisingly little information regarding the writing process of “For You Blue.” George wrote it about his then-wife, Pattie Boyd; George also noted, “It’s a simple 12-bar song following all the normal 12-bar principles, except that it’s happy-go-lucky!” Alan Pollack calls it “as possibly the most uncomplicated and straightforward song on the ‘Let It Be’ album” which “features a relatively tight performance of a snappy instrumental arrangement for just the Beatles four that resonates nicely with the unusually un-muddied romantic euphoria of the lyrics.”
Pollack also mentioned a demo of “For You Blue” existing from the Twickenham sessions. There are longer, rougher takes of the song on YouTube, but here’s one of the shorter cuts.
Originally titled “George’s Blues (Because You’re Sweet and Lovely),” six takes of the tune were recorded on Jan. 25 with the last recording resulting in the finished product. (Wikipedia also notes John listed the song as “For You Blues” in a session recording, suggesting the eventual title of this number was the result of a typo.) Noteworthy recording contributions:
- John plays a lap steel guitar and uses a shotgun shell as a slide
- Paul plays piano with a piece of paper in the wires for a vibrating effect
Wikipedia also noted, “When Phil Spector remixed the song for inclusion on the ‘Let It Be’ album, he added an introduction by Lennon, ‘Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members.’ This comment was edited in from dialogue recorded at Twickenham Studios in early January 1969, long before ‘For You Blue’ was recorded.” It’s not highly audible on the version I linked to below, but I checked and it is there.
Additional track dickery occurred when, quoth the Beatles Bible, “’For You Blue’ was remixed by Glyn Johns on 8 January 1970. Prior to this, George Harrison re-recorded his lead vocals.” Hence the double recording dates at the top of my notes.
“For You Blue” was released as the B-side to “The Long and Winding Road” in the US and as such peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Chart in 1970.
I think I wrote about Phil Spector’s chop job on “Let It Be” way, way back on Day 2: “Across the Universe,” so we won’t retread what “Let It Be… Naked” is and why it exists. Here’s how “For You Blue” appears on that album.
I don’t hear a ton of difference – not bad. An alternate take from the Jan. 1969 recording appeared on “Anthology 3.” Just for kicks, here’s that version.
“For You Blue” didn’t make me have any earth-shattering revelations, but I liked it well enough. It’s a good song, and if it stays stuck in my head for the next four days (like I have a hunch it will) I won’t complain.