Sometimes even former Beatles weren’t guaranteed hit singles. In the summer of 1981, George Harrison was coming off a major hit with his tribute to John Lennon, ‘All Those Years Ago,’ and its parent album ‘Somewhere In England,’ was a top 20 item on both sides of the Atlantic, and elsewhere from Austria to Australia.
But this week 34 years ago, the track ‘Teardrops,’ written and produced by George, was released as a single from the album, and missed the mainstream charts in both the US and UK. With another track from the LP, ‘Save The World,’ on the b-side of the Dark Horse 45, ‘Teardrops’ got some rock radio airplay in the US, climbing as high as No. 51 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
But the single fell narrowly short of the Hot 100, “bubbling under” at No. 102, and missed the UK bestsellers altogether. Harrison wouldn’t appear again for six years, until he swept back into the mainstream consciousness with ‘Got My Mind Set On You.’
‘Teardrops,’ like ‘All Those Years Ago,’ was one of the tracks that George added to the revised running order of ‘Somewhere In England’ when the first version was turned down by Warner Brothers. An upbeat, poppy number which belied the lovelorn lyrics (“I’ve had my fill of crying buckets full of teardrops”), it reflected the sound of the time with a strong synthesizer flavour.
Indeed, the album featured no fewer than five accomplished guests — Gary Brooker, Al Kooper, Mike Moran, Ray Cooper and Neil Larsen — all credited on synths, as well as Harrison himself. But while that’s the dominant sound of the single, you can still hear George playing some of his distinctive guitar in the mix. ‘Teardrops’ came back to the fore when ‘Somewhere In England’ became part of the ‘Dark Horse Years 1976-1992’ box set in 2004.