Monday, February 25, 2013

George Harrison at 70

George Harrison would have turned 70 years old today. Born on February 25, 1943 in Liverpool, Mr. Harrison was often referred to as “the quiet Beatle” for his studious appearance on stage. But in many respects his voice, and influence, have rung louder than any of the other Fab Four since his untimely passing from cancer on November 29, 2001. 

Even more than the platitudes and anthems extolled by John Lennon’s iconic “Give Peace a Chance”, or “All You Need is Love”, and even beyond the foolishness of “Imagine”; which had John Lennon asking you to forgo your possessions, even as he lived a life of luxury himself; George Harrison eschewed the limelight of politics, choosing instead to champion Peace by his own actions. His wife, Olivia, along with Ringo's wife, Barbara Bach, have quietly funded the AIDS orphanages in Romania for over 20 years without any fanfare.

The Concert for Bangla Desh in August of 1971 was the first benefit concert of its kind, and they have now become the “norm” as a way to raise money after various disasters. Farm Aid, Feed the World; you name the benefit and it all started with George making a phone call or two for Ravi Shankar and the plight of the citizens of Bangla Desh.

His interest in a sitar on the set of the Beatle movie “Help” sparked an interest in all things Eastern, including Transcendental Meditation and the practice of Yoga. The spiritual aspects of Mr. Harrison’s later, solo efforts cannot be ignored. His album “Living In the Material World” will go down as one of the most beautiful musical tributes to spiritual beliefs ever recorded. You can read them as simply love songs, or you can delve the deeper meaning as Mr. Harrison sings his spiritual beliefs, shedding some of his personal pain as he does.

This video is of the Traveling Wilburys doing “It’s All Right” from their second album, “Traveling Wilburys Volume 3”, which was released in October 1990 when my daughter was about two years old. She loved this song; I think she still does. I’ll have to ask her. The point is that George Harrison; like all of the Beatles; transcended the boundaries imposed by generational differences. The bouncy and sometimes instospective nature of the songs are reminiscent of the Beatle's albums in the music of this highly unusual group, which released it's first album, "Traveling Wilburys Volume 1" in 1988.

Not since the advent of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had there been such a collection of guitarists in one group. And what a group it was! With ex-Beatle George Harrison collaborating with Tom Petty,  Bob Dylan and Geoff Lynn of the Electric Light orchestra; along with rock legend Roy Orbison; this album just couldn’t miss. They followed it up in October of 1990 with the curiously titled “Traveling Wilburys Volume 3”. That album lacked the remarkable voice of Mr. Orbison, who had passed away just a year earlier, after scoring his last solo hit record in 1989. In some of the videos from this second Wilburys album; as in the one above;  you can see the empty chair left in tribute to him by the other band members.

Former band mates Lennon and McCartney said it best when they wrote, “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make…” By those standards, George Harrison dwells in perfect peace and harmony; probably laughing at us all.

No comments:

Post a Comment