I was shocked to be reminded today that it’s nine years since George Harrison passed away. Nine years! The memory of hearing the news break that the quiet, gentle Beatle, who was just 58, had lost his battle with cancer seems as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. What a huge loss felt by so many at his passing.
What a career and life lived. I’m sure you have your favourite George memories and moments gathered together by the dozen, at least, so do share them.
He had the best line in A Hard Day’s Night:
Interviewer: What would you call that hairstyle you’re wearing?
Frank Sinatra recorded ‘Something’, recognising it as ‘one of the greatest love songs of the last fifty or so years,’ which, to a fan of Ol’ Blue Eyes (who has of course crooned his way through the very best of them), is high praise indeed. In fact, after ‘Yesterday’, ‘Something’ is quite possibly the most widely-covered Beatles number; no mean feat considering how prolific the songwriting team of Lennon/McCartney.
Let’s not forget, though, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’; one of the finest songs ever recorded, the aching beauty of its considered guitar phrasing equal to the depth in its thoughtful lyrical sentiments.
My personal favourite of his Beatles compositions, however, is probably the hard-driving tune which opened Revolver: ‘Taxman’ (one of the album’s three Harrison-penned songs along with ‘Love You To’ and ‘I Want To Tell You’).
Then there’s Ringo Starr’s ‘Photograph’, which George co-wrote. How poignant its lines when performed by Ringo on the first anniversary of his friend’s death – at the unsurpassed Concert for George held at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2002.
Don’t forget either the tragically short-lived enjoyment of and for the Traveling Wilburys. I think it says an awful lot for George’s strength of spirit and lack of ego that he could gather a band of such talented individuals together (Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty) and create such infectious, decent fun.
And, as we talked about the music of 1970 last time, there’s the quite brilliant All Things Must Pass, with a sleeve reminding us of George’s love of gardening.
If these stray thoughts haven’t made you smile, I’d like to remember George today with a video which I believe will force most mouths to submit to a position of ‘amused and entertained’: ‘Got My Mind Set On You’, a worldwide hit in 1987 and 1988.
If there is a heaven, with Nelson and Lefty Wilbury reunited, the fortunate souls up there are surely enjoying some terrific musical collaborations, aren’t they?
This week’s chat is on Thursday and the next topic, there or thereabouts, will be ‘thoughtful lyrics (revisited)’. I leave you with one of the many from George, whose karmic mindfulness will continue to inspire for a long time to come, I should think.
“Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same?
And because of all the tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity?”
— ‘Isn’t It a Pity’, All Things Must Pass (1970)