George Harrison–lead guitarist for the Beatles, songwriter, mystic–died five years ago today.
What I wrote at the time:
My favorite Beatle depends as much upon what day of the week it is as it does upon my mood for that day. Some days my Beatles-sense revolves wholly around John, other days Paul, sometimes George, sometimes Ringo. I have a favorite Beatle to the same extent that I have a favorite Doctor; I like and appreciate each on their own terms. John could no more write “Something” as George could write “Yesterday.” Different songs, different styles, different states of mind.
I don’t know that I can write much on George Harrison. The words just don’t seem to be there. Even knowing that he was ill doesn’t make the loss any easier. The local Classic Hits radio station did a “Beatles A-Z” day today; I’ve had George’s first and last solo albums in the CD player.
The Beatles now number two. I’m tempted to watch A Hard Day’s Night, just to remember them all as they once were.
Now, I’m listening to All Things Must Pass, his first solo album. The triple album. It’s a fantastic album, the best of the four solo Beatle debuts by far, even if the Phil Spector Wall of Sound is a little overwhelming at times. I can look past the imperfections–the trumpets on “Run of the Mill,” the rambling fade-out of “Isn’t It a Pity?” (so it could be one second longer than “Hey Jude”), the aimlessness of the Apple Jam–because the album has so many strengths. The majesty of songs like “All Things Must Pass,” “What is Life?” and “My Sweet Lord” transcend the instrumental chaos that Spector brought to the album. Was Harrison’s songwriting ever so sharp again? Was his voice ever so aethereal again? All Things Must Pass.
I think I’ll listen to the Traveling Wilburys after. And Brainwashed. And his last song, “Horse to Water” (from one of the Jools Holland CDs).
Hare krishna, George.