It’s hard to imagine a greater honor for a musician than being the muse for a song by the legendary George Harrison. Yet, surprisingly, Eric Clapton chose to pass on the track ‘Cheer Down’ that Harrison had crafted with him in mind.
The bond between Harrison and Clapton dates back to the 1960s. Harrison even welcomed Clapton to join The Beatles during recording sessions. Notably, Eric Clapton contributed to The Beatles‘ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, and their musical camaraderie continued to thrive post-Beatles era.
Their collaboration wasn’t rare, as evidenced by the creation of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ during one of their joint sessions. Their alliance stood the test of time and personal dynamics, notably enduring through Clapton’s marriage to Harrison’s ex-wife, Pattie Boyd, with Harrison even performing at their wedding.
Despite their close ties, Clapton felt comfortable declining ‘Cheer Down’, as he was deeply engaged in producing his eleventh album, ‘Journeyman’, and didn’t see the track aligning with his vision.
Ultimately, ‘Cheer Down’ found its place in the ‘Lethal Weapon 2’ soundtrack, curated by Clapton. Harrison shared that even though Clapton was reluctant to feature the track, the film’s director, Dick Donner, insisted on including it after hearing it.
In ‘Harrison on Harrison’, George Harrison recounts the journey of ‘Cheer Down’ from a piece intended for Clapton to becoming a part of his live performances in Japan, with Tom Petty contributing to the lyrics.
Despite Clapton’s initial rejection, he and Harrison later performed ‘Cheer Down’ together on tour in Japan. While Clapton’s decision to turn down the song might seem baffling, Harrison’s rendition, complete with his signature slide guitar solo and distinct vocals, proved that the song was in its rightful hands all along.