“It Don’t Come Easy” was released as a single in early 1971, with Ringo getting credit for writing the song. Nowadays, people think George either co-wrote it with Ringo, or wrote the whole thing himself, but the song belongs to Ringo, in any event. Ringo strains his way through the vocals … his singing had its charms, but he needed the right setting, and I’m not sure the single provided it. He then performed the song at The Concert for Bangladesh, where he forgot the words and yet somehow sounded better than he had on the studio version.
The benefit concert was quite a big deal at the time: two Beatles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and a large band of fine musicians including Leon Russell and Billy Preston. I don’t know what people think of it now … probably depends on how much you like George. It doesn’t hold a candle to Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Joe Cocker live album/film that featured many of the same musicians. Dylan overshadows everyone else, and it may say something that, for all the firepower on stage, Billy Preston practically steals the show. But Ringo is Ringo, and for a few minutes, that’s enough.
Here is Preston, with “That’s the Way God Planned It”:
And, for a taste of how it might sound if you took the idea of a super group and turned it into a touring band, here is one from Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Watching this, I wonder why I just didn’t turn this Music Friday into a celebration of the greatness of early Joe Cocker. “Cry Me a River”: