The song “He’s So Fine,” written by Ronnie Mack and recorded by the Chiffons, was at the top of the charts in England in 1963, the same year that saw the onset of Beatlemania. Years later, in 1976, the ex-Beatle George Harrison was found guilty of plagiarizing this pop confection, albeit subconsciously, for “My Sweet Lord,” from his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass.
It’s true that both songs share a similarly breezy melody, supported by a repeating ii–V verse progression, but “My Sweet Lord” occupies a place of its own in terms of instrumentation—with producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound treatment and Harrison’s distinctive slide-guitar work—not to mention subject manner, praising the Hindu god Krishna, while at the same time implicitly criticizing sectarianism.
“My Sweet Lord” is arranged here as a strum-along, and the song hold ups nicely in this setting, despite the lushness of the original studio recording. The basic accompaniment pattern—which kicks off in the key of D major but sounds in E due to a capo at the second fret—appears in notation in the first two bars of the intro. (Note that later in his career, Harrison played the song live without a capo.) As indicated, try strumming in a continuous down-up, eighth-note motion, while adding emphasis to the indicated beats.
In the middle of the bridge, the song modulates up a major second, to the key of E major, via a B7 chord (which is the V7 of E)—a pretty slick harmonic device that gives the song an emotional lift. (“He’s So Fine,” on the other hand, sticks to the key of G major throughout.)
As a bonus, I’ve included the notation for the slide parts in the intro, originally played on the electric guitar but doable on the acoustic. Keep in mind that the last few measures, which are harmonized in thirds, would require a second slide guitarist, as most of the dyads are not located at the same fret.
This article, along with the music notation for “My Sweet Lord,” originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.
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