Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Concert for George

I watched some of The Concert for George this morning again, the George Harrison tribute concert. Especially with the recent Michael Jackson tributes I was struck with how the tone of this is just about exactly right. First of all it was a year to the day after his death. His friends, primarily Eric Clapton, not just entertainment industry folks who wanted to show that they knew George, put it together. The people who appear in the concert represent many parts of George’s musical life – Paul and Ringo, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty (from the Traveling Wilburys,) Billy Preston, Gary Booker, Ravi Shankar, Joe Brown (for whom the Beatles opened in the early 60’s) and even Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The night did not feature any over-the-top tribute speeches proclaiming him the greatest entertainer who ever lived – OK, the Monty Python bit featured one that was SO over the top that it was hilarious but it soon morphed into “The Lumberjack Song.” It was a bunch of musical friends playing George’s music or music that George loved. Even the video was done well featuring two discs, one with the feature film “The Concert for George” with performances from the concert and the rehearsal as well as interview footage from the participants. The other disc has the entire concert.

The bottom line, though, is that the music is great. George was a good composer who was often great and this concert features the best of his work performed by Clapton’s crack band and some of his very talented friends. Highlights for me include the McCartney/Clapton version of “Something” which starts out with Paul’s ukulele version and shifts to be a full band version with Eric singing and playing – just beautiful. The version of “I Want to Tell You” is really cool. The Ravi Shankar composed “Arpan” suite performed by his daughter and an orchestra of Indian instruments is also wonderful – I listened to this a bit three years ago on my trip to India. Overall the DVD is well worth it – I truly enjoy watching it and listening to the CD.

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