Run of the Mill’ was one of the first songs written about the Beatles by a Beatle. George Harrison wrote it shortly after the band’s disastrous ‘Get Back’ sessions in 1969, detailing the group’s falling apart.
Specifically, Apple Records was in shambles, John Lennon was pretty much finished with the band and Paul McCartney was becoming Mr. Bossypants. (Sources: Ultimateclassicrock; Faroutmagazine; Beatlesbible).
Following the group’s break-up, the band’s members weren’t shy about voicing their disdain for one another either. Not only did they trade insults in interviews, after all, all anybody wanted to talk about was the Fab Four anyway, but the bandmates also used songs to shoot barbs at one another. Paul McCartney famously took aim at John Lennon’s sanctimonious virtue signalling on ‘Too Many People’ on his solo album Ram. In turn, that song led to John Lennon writing the viciously cruel ‘How Do You Sleep?’, a pointed track that came hurtling across the airwaves straight back at McCartney.
It was around the time that Harrison had decided he’d “had enough” and quit The Beatles for a short period of time as all the bad blood had got too much for him. It was during this time that he realised that being in a band would no longer suit his purpose and, if he wanted to get his spiritual message out there, he would need his own platform. All Things Must Pass the magnificent solo LP would be that moment.
‘Run of the Mill’ closed out the second side of the record and is a vintage piece of work which stands up with anything that The Beatles, together or individually, have ever produced. In the opening lyrics, Harrison starts singing about choice and “when to and not to raise their voices”. In the chorus section, he then ponders on how “no one around you can carry the blame for you.”
Harrison, in the later verses, sings directly about perhaps his most fearsome adversary in the band, Paul McCartney. Considering he remained close friends with Lennon and Ringo Starr following the initial split of the band and asks himself “how I lost your friendship.” The guitarist then answers his own question and swoons: “I see it in your eyes, Though I’m beside you, I can’t carry the blame for you.”
Harrison told Derek Taylor in 1979 of the song’s composition, “It was when Apple was getting crazy … Paul was falling out with us all and going around Apple offices saying ‘You’re no good’ – everyone was just incompetent (the Spanish Inquisition sketch). It was that period – the problem of partnerships.”