At the suggestion of Leon Russell, who had participated in the recent Ronnie Spector and Badfinger sessions, Harrison began the song with a brief verse outlining his own introduction to the Bangladesh crisis: My friend came to me with sadness in his eyes Told me that he wanted help before his country dies Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try Now I'm asking all of you to help us save some lives.
and "[in] deference to the Shankar context", musical biographer Simon Leng suggests, Harrison set the opening verse as a rock version of Indian music's traditional alap – "a slow introductory statement of the main ideas".
Foreign journalists had been deported from East Pakistan shortly before the Pakistani army's Operation Searchlight, and even after Mascarenhas' first-hand observations had been published, Shankar and Harrison were concerned that the mainstream media in the West were showing a reluctance to report all the facts.
– despite the Blood telegram in April, in which officials at the US Consulate in Dacca advised their State Department of the "genocide" taking place and accused the US Government of "moral bankruptcy".
"Bangla Desh" appeared at the height of Harrison's popularity as a solo artist, following the break-up of the Beatles and the acclaim afforded his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass.
It was pop music's first charity single, and its release took place three days before the Harrison-sponsored Concert for Bangladesh shows at New York's Madison Square Garden.
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