Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Dig Love: Reasons Why I Love George Harrison

Several years ago, a rather arrogant male coworker asked me who my favorite Beatle was. When I responded with George Harrison his reaction was, "George! No wonder you're single!"

Assholes may come and go, but my love for George has never wavered. But that snippet of conversation shows how much George was misunderstood and under appreciated compared to John, Paul and even Ringo. I mean, the best description the mainstream media could come up with about George in the beginning of Beatlemania was that he was "the quiet one" which always seemed a little insulting to me. How little they knew. If John was the smart one, Paul was the cute one, and Ringo was the funny one, then George in my opinion was a combination of all three!

Martin Scorsese's recent documentary on HBO, called "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" provided additional insight into what true George fans already know: that he was the coolest! It's hard to believe that he's now been gone for 10 years (and even harder to believe none of the radio stations I listen to recognized the anniversary), but George is most certainly not forgotten from the fan pages and dedications I've seen on Facebook and YouTube. So today I'm sharing some love for the "quiet Beatle" and listing the reasons why he's my fave of the Fab Four:


He Made Songs About God Cool
Mass, CCD, and Catholic school could be a lot more fun if parishioners got to sing "My Sweet Lord" and "Awaiting On You All"...just saying. I never had a desire to listen to music with a spiritual message on purpose until I became introduced to George's catalog of solo work. His disdain for a world that prides itself on materialism and greed still resonates with me today. And when I need a pick-me-up, "Blow it Away" and "Beware of Darkness" help remind me to stay positive.
He Organized the First Charity Concert
1971's Concert for Bangladesh, performed at Madison Square Garden, was the first charity concert of its time to reach a wide mass of people and featured several big name performers including Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, and Mick Jagger. It raised $243,000 for UNICEF and helped set the stage for Farm Aid and Live Aid.

He Had an Incredible Sense of Humor
He hung out with the Monty Python crew, and his wry sense of humor is revealed in many interviews and even some of his music videos, like this one here for "I've Got My Mind Set on You." Watch for the dance number! 




He Was the Beatles' Best Guitarist
Well, certainly better than Ringo! I'm not knocking John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's guitar playing abilities by ANY means, but let's face it, if you are applying to be in a Beatles tribute band, the role of George is going to be the toughest shoes to fill. 15 years ago a guitar teacher wrote out to tabs to "Here Comes the Sun" for me to learn. Two years after picking up a guitar again and learning everything from scratch, I still don't have the guts yet to attempt the song. 

He Stayed Friends with Eric Clapton Even After His Wife Went with Him
The love triangle between George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and George's wife Pattie Boyd is perhaps the most infamous one in rock and roll history. Yet George, perhaps realizing that he was at least partially to blame for his first failed marriage, remained close with Clapton and toured with him in Japan in the 90s. Years after Pattie left Clapton, George remarked that in retrospect he was glad "that she went with Eric instead of some dope." 


Even Frank Sinatra Loved His Music
Frank Sinatra was not one to incorporate modern rock and roll into his set list, but loved George's ballad "Something" so much that he sang it on stage, often improvising the lyrics slightly to, "You stick around, JACK, it may show..." 

He Was a Master At Going Faster
George loved cars--he owned several from a Mini Cooper to a McLaren F1 (which you can see in the Beatles Anthology.) He was also a huge racing fan and friends with Jackie Stewart, and admired race car drivers for their concentration abilities, which he likened to transcendental meditation. 


He Had the Best Sense of Style of All the Beatles
From guitars to cars to pretty wives to the opulent Friar Park he called home, George's sense of style was greatly admired--and envied--by his buddy Eric Clapton. Clapton said that he wanted to be like George--which may have partially motivated his desire to win over Pattie Boyd's heart. 

He Loved the TV Show "Dallas"
Who shot J.R.? George knew the answer. A recent book by Monty Python alumni Michael Palin reveals that George was a huge "Dallas" fan. He even got angry one Friday evening when Palin called to discuss a film project, thus interrupting his viewing pleasure.


Fellow Hari fans--did I miss any? We love you, George--never forgotten!
Oh, did I mention that he loved cats?!

17 comments:

Keir said...

What a terrific tribute! I was always so grateful to have had the Beatles as my heroes- power didn't make them more arrogant or self-centred; it made them weary and become better human beings. They never let me down.
I grew up in Canada and the cassette I had was the American version of Abbey Road. After the MMT debacle following Epstein's death, the four solo sides that made up the double white album, the breakups and legal actions, and Al Klein and "I'll play whatever you want Paul or I won't play at all..." death of a band on film, the last album begins on a quiet note; "Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting. Little Darling; it feels like years since it's been here..."
Leave it to George to get away from lovely ditties about mass murderers, or self-indulgent "In want you (She's so Heavy)," or songs about octopi to open with hope and relief.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Thank you, Keir! I still do like the ditties about octopi and the childlike songs like "All Together Now"...I think those songs along with Revolution show what range the Beatles had. George definitely had a unique solo sound and message...and Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles album despite being the last one they recorded. It's like they pulled themselves together for one last ditch effort to produce a positive message.

Sassy Lassies Vintage Life said...

Love the tribute. Love George.

42N said...

My father and I said hi to George and his wife Olivia at Niagara Falls (the Canadian side) in March 1993. We stopped to see the frozen falls - with no one around. Got out of the car and another one pulled up. A couple got out and we all walked to the railing where the telescope is located. I turned toward the guy, did a double take and recognized him as George. Said hi and left him alone with Olivia. He said hi back.

Pam@GoRetro said...

SassyLassiesVintageLife--thanks, me too!

42N--that's such a cool story. I've heard similar ones--George was spotted in the Tower Records in Boston in the 90s, and at a spa in the Berkshires. I remember right after he passed away someone called into the local radio station to say they remember him at the resort and that he needed help using the laundry machine. He said something witty to the people present, but I don't remember what it was. He was such a cool guy.

MoonDoggie said...

I enjoyed reading this. I didn't know about most of the stuff you mentioned so it was educational for me. I don't really have a favourite Beatle but I found a particularly scrummy picture of him a while ago so now consider him the best looking.

JZ said...

I have not seen the doc yet, so I don't know if they put the below clip in, but this is George on Rutland Weekend Television (this was something of a Monty Python spin off; Neil Innis of the Bonzo Dog Band-- another friend of George by the way--was also involved). This is from 1975, and is a great example of his sense of humor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ACyZIXkHq0

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you about George Harrison. He was a very spiritual and charitable person, who cared alot about the things surrounding his and life in general. His ego wasn;t quite as large as the others. I've always loved his music with or without the Beatles. He was a survivor as well,having beaten cancer for the first time and surviving an attack on his life. Sadly,he lost his last battle with cancer,but I know that he's in heaven,probably singing and playing his guitar to the angels. God bless you George on your 10th year gone away from us. Liam

el cornichon said...

JZ - I feel the need to put up a link to everything leading up to that song -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AarhZScyuz0
...he really did want to be a pirate!

JZ said...

Great stuff el cornichon, Thanks!

Pam@GoRetro said...

JZ and el cornichon--thanks for the links to that program. Not long ago it was "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and I saw those clips for the first time.

Liam and MoonDoggie--thanks for your comments.

lazlo1988 said...

I remember when I first started getting into music during the early '80s when I was a young teen. I was an utter neophyte to rock culture because my immigrant parents were unfamiliar with it, and thus I was the first person in my family to be into rock. The Beatles were one of the first non-'80s bands I was seriously into. They became a bridge into that even larger world of music called The Sixties. The Beatles remain, and always will be, a joy to listen to. Optimistic, happy, sweet, catchy music.

revgreg said...

This is why this is the best blog on the planet! GREAT job Pam!

Teena in Toronto said...

George rocked!

Chelly said...

I loved George Harrison. What a talent. For all his fame and intelligence, he was still so down to earth. So filled with compassion. One of a kind.

My Sweet Lord - oh man, what a great song!

What a lovely tribute Pam. So happy to have read it.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Thank you, Greg and Chelly. Sometimes I think I miss George more than I miss John...namely because John died when I was 8 years old while I was able to follow George's solo career during the 80s and 90s.

Anonymous said...

"His ego wasn't quite as large as the others"

George didn't seem to have an ego at all; he never saw himself as being any better than anyone else.

He was often quite ashamed of himself. In fact, in the last months of his life, he was cripplingly guilty for having had a few meals of chicken or fish in his Krishna life, saying he wasn't good enough.

George was an exceptional human being. In my opinion, he was the closest thing to a perfect human being that you can get.

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