Let’s Discuss the George Harrison-Penned Beatles Classic ‘Taxman’ on April 15 — Normally Tax Day in the U.S. (Delayed Until 7/15 Due to COVID-19)

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Today, April 15, would usually be the day millions of Americans file taxes. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into everything, however, and the U.S. Treasury and IRS granted an additional three-month grace period due to the circumstances — so you now have until July 15 to file instead.

We don’t know about you, but it’s impossible to think about paying taxes without calling to mind the Beatles‘ “Taxman,” which appeared on the Fab Four’s 1966 album Revolver. Penned by guitarist George Harrison, the song’s biting lyrics critique the Labour Party’s tax system at the time:

And here’s George and Eric Clapton performing the song together in Japan:

Said Harrison of the song in Anthology, as quoted by the Beatles Bible:

I had discovered I was paying a huge amount of money to the taxman. You are so happy that you’ve finally started earning money – and then you find out about tax.

In those days we paid 19 shillings and sixpence [96p] out of every pound, and with supertax and surtax and tax-tax it was ridiculous – a heavy penalty to pay for making money. That was a big turn-off for Britain. Anybody who ever made any money moved to America or somewhere else.

Widely believed to be the sixth song Harrison wrote that wound up on a Beatles album, the tune and its attitude inspired a rather amusing quote from the late Sir George Martin, who told us this in 2013 when prompted to discuss Harrison’s songwriting chops:

RC: What was the first song George wrote where your ears perked up and you thought he’s gotten much better as a writer? I like “I Need You.”

GM: (Sings chorus of I Need You) Nice little song. I remember the song I hated most of all, “Only A Northern Song.” “Taxman” wasn’t bad, typical George bitching about the world. Really, the one that I thought was better than any of those was “Here Comes The Sun.” I mean, that was the first time he showed real cleverness in a song. From “Here Comes The Sun” onward everything he did was pretty good.

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