In Adelaide, it is currently the 29th of November, 2014. The 13th anniversary of George Harrison’s death. There is only one Beatle I haven’t done a ‘Happy Birthday’ post for, and I’m sad that that I have to write an ‘anniversary of death’ post about this particular Beatle beforehand. I’m currently listening to Living In The Material World/All Things Must Pass (I might listen to my Cloud Nine vinyl later) and wearing my Yellow Submarine t-shirt in his memory.
I realise I haven’t done a post on George within this blog yet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really written about George since June. Rather stupid of me, ‘cos he is my second-favourite Beatle. But anyway, I shall make up for such crimes over the school holidays…
George was the last Beatle I found out about, in around March 2013. I remember a friend (who actually introduced me to The Beatles) coming to school one day and telling me that she’d discovered The Beatles wrote all their own songs, her example being ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ being credited to a ‘George Harrison’. Ah, I thought. The name of the elusive fourth Beatle. And ever since that rainy Autumn day nearly two years ago, I’ve never forgotten that name. For a few months, George was my least favourite Beatle. I don’t know why (nobody told you / how to unfold your love…) — my theory is that I placed him fourth purely because I knew next to nothing about him. But then — about a year ago (December 2013, if my memory serves correct) — George Harrison: Living In The Material World was played on Australian TV. I know for a fact that quite a few George fans have come out of watching that wonderful film, and I am among them. I became so interested with George and his music, and rightfully so. (Though I did love ‘What Is Life’ beforehand.) I can only say that I’ve listened to two of his solo albums in full (plus part of a third), but all of his songs that I’ve heard — Beatles (I’ve obviously heard all of those!) or otherwise — are absolutely impeccable. A truly underrated songwriter, I must say… (Yay! ‘Wah Wah’ — my favourite George song — is playing!).
Last year, I found out what day George died on the, well, day. I remember being quite sad, but George didn’t really mean that much to me at that point. I would have known under one-hundred Beatles songs (I now know over 250 Beatles songs…), and this was pre-Living In The Material World. I was slightly sad this morning, but now I am focusing on remembering George. As my mum said precisely a year ago, ‘Knowing what sort of person he was, George wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad.’ And whilst George’s death is very, very sad (he died far too young), it wouldn’t have been a surprise. By the time he passed on, the cancer had spread to his brain and he was ready to die. His death wasn’t as unexpected as John’s. From what I have read/watched, I think George was ready.
George (and John) inspired me to pick up guitar, earlier this year. And wow, how I thank them! Playing guitar is one of the few factors that completely changed my life in the past couple of years (The Beatles being another), and through it, not only have I come a long way in the music world, I’ve also found a heap of other good music. I can now play the large majority of my favourite songs, and I’m now dabbling in the world of songwriting. In fact, my two guitars are called John and George. And so I thank the two namesakes for inspiring me to try my hand at playing guitar!
Talking of guitar, George really was amazing at the instrument. When I listen to the licks on his solo stuff, they’re not just licks, or riffs. They swirl around the listener’s brain, like a butterfly that has been freed into an open field. They are, quite literally (in my mind), swirls. I count George as one of those iconic guitarists that you can pick from their playing within a few seconds. He really knew how to make his guitar ‘speak’. I also think he was a fabulous musician in general — he played everything from a Moog to violin, showing his versatility. Here are some of my favourite George moments (though I’m going to do a post on my favourite George songs at a later date):
‘Cloud Nine’ is a really groovy song. The guitar is awesome. George sings it wonderfully.
‘Long, Long, Long’ — George’s acoustic work in this song is stellar. The song is stellar. It sits right after a stellar song, as the last track of a stellar side of a stellar double album. (And I’m not being sarcastic. Serious.)
The obligatory ‘My Sweet Lord’! The solo in this is subject to the swirling effect I was discussing above. Beautiful.
(There are so many other George moments I love as well, others off the top of my head including ‘I Dig Love’, the two versions of ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Art Of Dying’ — the latter rather appropriate for today, sadly.)
George also seemed like a genuinely nice person. Quite selfless, I think. There are so many stories about him being a really lovely person, ranging from the relatively well-known tale of him mortgaging Friar Park so he could create Handmade Films to fund Life of Brian (thank the not-Messiah (‘He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!) for that!), to him inviting fans to his house to meet him. And whilst he wasn’t perfect, who is?
And I really have only just started listening to the lyrics in his songs (stupid me), and they’re beautiful. I’m currently listening to ‘Beware Of Darkness’, and wow… His words — whether they be about God, or love, or the loss of friendship, or anything in particular — they really talk to those who care to listen. No wonder he is my second-favourite Beatle!
And one final thing: there’s a wonderful George quote that really resonates with me (well, a lot of his quotes resonate with me, but anyway), in particular. I posted it in ‘Words Are Flowing Out’, but here it is, anyway: “It’s nothing to do with how many years old you are, or how big your body is. It’s down to what your greater consciousness is, and if you can live in harmony with what’s going on in creation.” Something happened earlier this year (a story for later) that kind of threw me in at the deep end, and all of sudden made me feel very young. I had never been ‘the youngest’ before. And this quote helped me realise that age doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. Although I connect with John the most, I feel a special kind of connection with George as well. He reminds me of, well, me a bit. George continuously inspires me, and whilst I’m not a religious person, his principles were very, very sensible. Thank you, George.
But anyway, rest in peace, Georgie. Whether it be the Dylanesque ‘Apple Scruffs’, or the swirling paisley (yep, my term) feel of ‘My Sweet Lord’, the slides on ‘I Dig Love’, or the heavy riffing on ‘Wah Wah’ and ‘What Is Life’, your music really was something special. You were something special. There is so much I could say about you, but I shall cover that another day. We love you and miss you like mad. But as you once said, all things must pass. Wherever you are, I hope you have a beautiful day. Say hello to John for us. tangerinetrees99