on June 12, 2019 | Last updated June 12, 2019
The BeatlesNot Guilty
Release Type: User Audio Type: Single-track Reductions: Yes (Authored) Pitched Vocals: Yes Vocals Gender: Male (1)
In 1967 George Harrison was deep into Eastern music and philosophy. With their touring days over, George suggested that the Beatles take a 3 month trip to India to relax, rejuvenate, and study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Spiritually, the trip was not a huge success. Ringo left in less than 2 weeks because the food did not agree with him. Paul left midway through the trip, being followed by John and George about a month before the trip was scheduled to end. Allegations of inappropriate relationships between the Maharishi and some female students contributed to their early departure and is the basis for John's song Sexy Sadie (which was originally sung as "Maharishi, what have you done?"). The allegations proved untrue.
Musically, the trip allowed the Beatles the time to experiment acoustically and compose vast quantities of new songs. Not Guilty was one of 26 songs demoed upon their return to England, and with a few additions and subtractions these comprised their next self-titled album, commonly called the White Album due to is stark album "art".
Not Guilty was recorded and ready to be included on the album, but with too much material to even fit on a double album, cuts were made. Not Guilty was the last song to be cut before the track listing was finalized. Perhaps the Beatles were not entirely pleased with how it turned out - it was tricky to record with multiple time signature changes.
Historically, George was also only given 1-2 songs per album, and even though he was now rivalling Lennon and McCartney as a songwriter, old habits die hard and he only ended up with 4 songs on the double album. Serious fractures were also beginning to form within the group (Ringo quit the band at one point during recording of the album - the first Beatle to do so) and this song's topic may have been a sore point. Lyrically, George is washing his hands of responsibility for the less-than-successful India trip. Perhaps the Beatles did not wish to air their dirty laundry on the record.
This full length of take 102, running 4:28, is the remastered version from the Super Deluxe 50th anniversary release. A shortened version of the song (cutting the guitar solo amongst other things) appeared on Anthology 3 running 3:22. George would ultimately re-record an acoustic version of the song for his 1978 self titled solo album, but I much prefer the treatment the Beatles gave it.