Thursday, November 29, 2007

And today marks six years since he passed...

Today almost 'passed' me almost flew by me, totally unnoticed. Six years ago today, George Harrison lost his battle with cancer. And I almost forgot to commemorate his passing. He once said that he'd felt like an "economy-class Beatle", and indeed, when you're up against Lennon-McCartney, competition is formidable indeed. He was the wariest of The Beatles and the suffocating fame they endured. In the late '60s, during the 'Let It Be' sessions, Paul McCartney tried to talk the others into doing a concert somewhere; from what I've read, John Lennon and Ringo Starr could've gone either way; it was Harrison's flat rejection of the plan that kept the group from performing in public again.

After the Beatles, Harrison made some great music, and he made some not-so-great music, but the best of his music is right up there with the best of Lennon-McCartney's songs. When I was a kid, the first Beatles album I owned was "Yesterday and Today"; it was chock full of great John and Paul tunes, but even way back then, I thought Harrison's one composition on the album, "If I Needed Someone", was just as good as anything else on the album; to me, it really stood out; the song has a dark, somber melody and chiming, ringing notes which instantly told me I was listening to something really unique. The next album, "Revolver" contained 3 of his songs, one of which ("Taxman") started off the album. Later on, he wrote a #1 Beatles' single, "Something". After the Beatles, he had a pretty good solo career; it had its ups and downs, but still, 37 years later, his "All Things Must Pass" album STILL amazes me.

The purpose of this particular post really wasn't to write about Harrison's music, so much; I wanted to address the fact that I, a raving Beatlemaniac, almost forgot to observe the anniversary of his passing. And so I'll try to do that...

Somebody had written sometime back, that when John Lennon died, it was one of those "where were you when it happened" moments, much like that dark day back in November 1963 when President Kennedy was shot. Like Kennedy, Lennon's death was SHOCKING. On the other hand, George's death was less noteworthy; like many people, he got old, he had cancer, and passed away; an unspectacular death...although I do remember where I was when I heard he'd passed away. 'Twas a sad day for all of us Beatles fans.

So when I realized that the anniversary of George Harrison's death had passed me by almost unnoticed, I couldn't help but think, that, yes, what I read was indeed true. December 8th, 1980, the date of Lennon's murder, will be firmly ingrained in my mind as long as I'm on this planet, but 6 years later, George's death on November 29th almost flew right by me. I do know that on this day, back in 2001, I felt a TREMENDOUS loss. When John Lennon died, my prevailing emotion was white-hot Harrison's case, I felt sadness. A quite pervasive sadness. But I really wasn't surprised or shocked; all through 2001, I had read about his battle with cancer, so I knew he was gonna die. Just not "when". I actually didn't learn about his death until the day after; when the radio network news came on that morning and began with the strains of "Taxman", I knew what had happened even before the announcer began announcing.

In my mind, all of the Beatles are legends, equally important for what they brought to the band. George, however, cultivated a spiritually philosophical side. And he wasn't in it for the fame, not really. He did what he did because he was a musician. The last few years of his life, he stayed home, tending the garden. He wasn't a heavy-metal player, and certainly many great guitarists could play circles around him, but Harrison had a uniquely melodic approach to his instrument which immediately set him apart. So there I go again...I said earlier in this post that my purpose here really wasn't to talk about his music, for I've done that many times already. But you know, in attempting to write about George Harrison, the person, it inevitably does come back to his music, doesn't it? After all, he was a musician. I could go on and on, I 'spose, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I'm sad he's gone.

Besides his Beatles' tunes, I recommend the following George Harrison albums: 'All Things Must Pass', 'Living In The Material World', 'Thirty-Three & One-Third'; 'Cloud 9', and 'Brainwashed'.


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