The song is primarily about God, and features repetitions of the avatars of Lord Vishnu, the preserving God in Hinduism.
I had the pleasure of seeing George perform this live on November 11th and 12th at the Forum in LA.
When it was released as a single in 1971, "My Sweet Lord" topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. It was the first single by an ex-Beatle to reach number one. It reached number one again in the UK in 2002 following Harrison's death from cancer.
The song was originally written for Billy Preston, who had a minor hit with it in early 1970, in his album Encouraging Words. The song was written in December 1969, when Harrison and Preston were in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The recording of the song took place back in London. Billy was the the principal musician while George was engineering the sessions.
The drumming was performed by Alan White of Yes.
When All Things Must Pass was re-issued for its thirtieth anniversary in 2000, Harrison recorded a new version of the song as a bonus track, sharing vocals with Sam Brown.
The original single was actually a double-A Side, so both sides had a full Apple label. It was paired with "Isn't It A Pity", which was not included on the 2002 rerelease. The rerelease included "My Sweet Lord (2000)" and "Let It Down" as B-Sides.
After Harrison's death, at the tribute Concert for George, the song was performed by Billy Preston.
Following the song's release, musical similarities between "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' hit "He's So Fine" led to a lengthy legal battle over the rights to the composition. Billboard magazine, in an article dated 6 March, 1971, stated that Harrison's royalty payments from the recording had been halted worldwide. Harrison stated that he was inspired to write "My Sweet Lord" after hearing the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day".
In the U.S. federal court decision in the case, known as Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music, Harrison was found to have unintentionally copied the earlier song. He was ordered to surrender the majority of royalties from "My Sweet Lord" and partial royalties from All Things Must Pass. Shortly thereafter, Harrison wrote and recorded a song about the court case named "This Song", which includes "This song, there's nothing 'Bright' about it."