With its jangling twelve-string guitar and vocal harmonies, 1976’s “Beautiful Girl” sounds, as Harrison scholar Simon Leng says, like it could have come from HELP! or RUBBER SOUL. Here Harrison’s yearning “woos” are put to happier use than they had been on melodramatic older tunes like “Try Some Buy Some,” and the chiming electric arpeggios perfectly capture the feeling of seeing a gorgeous face for the first time.
When Harrison sings that he’s shaking inside, it suggests the feeling he may have felt when he first saw Pattie Boyd during the filming of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. Though Pattie said in her memoirs that practically the first thing Harrison asked her was to marry him (jokingly), he was nervous enough around her that he asked manager Brian Epstein to accompany them on their first date to help make conversation. Though women across the world wanted him, with this stunning-yet innocent model, Harrison still felt a bit of the dropout electrician’s apprentice he had been. The other Beatles’ wives of the ’60s, Cynthia and Maureen, would emulate Pattie’s long straight blond hair with bangs, as would countless followers of Swinging London.
Harrison began the song during 1970’s ALL THINGS MUST PASS album but was unable to finish it until he met Olivia Trinidad Arias. Born in 1948 in Mexico City, she went to Hawthorne High in the LA area, and after graduating in 1965 ended up working as a secretary at A&M Records, where Harrison met her in 1974, just before he was about to start the Dark Horse tour. The couple had their son, Dhani, in August 1978 and married the following month.
In 1999, Olivia would save Harrison when the psychotic Michael Abram broke into their home and attacked Harrison with a knife. First Olivia hit Abram with a fireplace poker, then smashed an antique lamp on the head. Olivia later told Katie Couric, “George was coaching me, I have to say. And George was very brave and people don’t know that. Because he had already been injured and he had to jump up and bring him down to stop him from attacking me. You know, he saved my life too.”
Katie Couric: “You saved each other’s lives.”
Olivia Harrison: “Yes, we did. And that was an interesting experience. Because, you know, not a lot of people get tested like that, thank God.”