Thursday, November 30, 2006

George Harrison

Five years ago yesterday George Harrison passed away. (In a little more than a week we’ll mark the 26th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.) It is hard to overestimate the impact the Beatles had (and still have) on me as a musician and as a person. The recent release of Love (see my review) has allowed me to listen to their music with new ears and has reminded me that their music not only had an important place in their space and time but was really outstanding music. While they all did some fine work in their solo careers, it is clear that together they really had something special that was not ever really recreated apart. Even the Beatles’ worst album (Beatles for Sale) still stands up over 40 years later as a great album with songs that are instantly recognizable to many of us, songs like “Every Little Thing” and “Eight Days a Week.”

I was struck, in listening to Love, that George is well represented on this disc – “Within You Without You”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” all made the cut. George’s playing in the Beatles was almost always exactly what the track needed from the quirkiness of the solo in “All You Need Is Love” to the dead-on rock of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” He also brought an Indian influence to the Beatles music that added an important set of colors to their aural palette. He was an important part of the mix and I think was sometimes overshadowed by the giant talents of John and Paul. But George held his own and, especially from Revolver on, added great songs to the catalog.

George’s solo albums also have many high points. I remember getting All Things Must Pass for Christmas 1970 as a sophomore in high school. (It was released 30 years ago today in the UK.) What a treat – three albums in one box. The poster that came with it stayed on my wall for years. Since then I have come to appreciate it all the more since the new better-sounding CD is available. I also remember how cool it was when, after a set of albums that were, let's face it, not outstanding (although I apparently enjoy Gone Troppo more than most people do) and after a few years off George released Cloud 9. It’s always great when one of your heroes shows that he’s still got it. So, George, thanks for the music. I have a richer life because of your work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Five years already! I'll have to pull out the Tribute DVD and watch it again. Back in the day, I always considered myself a JL fan, but I find myself missing George, whereas John is just "gone." Maybe because of the spiritual dimension.
When I realize that John was only 40 when he was killed, I feel so old - at 53, I am older than John ever got to be; it is too weird....
"Love" should be on my doorstep sometime today. I heard pieces on the website, and I am excited to be able to hear the entire CD now.