Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Five Years into the New Journey

George Harrison sailed away from us five years ago today.

At 22, with all of the money, fame and success of being in the world's most popular band, George traveled to the mountains of India and literally sat at the feet of his elders to study the music and spirituality of an ancient culture. He had been an ordinary teenage bloke from a middle-class family in England who suddenly found himself on top of the world. How many people in that position would have gone off on such a quest? The story has always amazed me.

And his spiritual awakening was no trendy or fashionable phase. The path he began in 1965 was the same one he was on when he embarked on his new journey in 2001.

I've always thought that George's importance to the Beatles is too often overlooked. An Indian journalist who knew him in the 1960s said he was the most naive of the Beatles, but also the most sincere. Perhaps it was that sincerity, along with his spiritual exploration, that gave George's songs a certain resonance that helped create the lasting and unique magic that is the Beatles.

And his sense of joy and fun. He may have been earnest, but he was also friends with - and a producer to - Monty Python. A vegetarian and serious gardener, he was also a Formula One race car driver. In the end, he was a fascinating, complex and loving soul. He is missed.

I was lucky enough to see George perform live in 1992, at Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden. When he stepped out on the stage, I couldn't help but be awed. Here I was, a Beatles kid from Austin, Texas, seeing George Harrison live on stage. It was a very memorable experience.

As a child, I loved Ringo and Paul. As an angry but idealistic teenager, I idolized John. But when I started listening to the Beatles again a few years ago, it was George who seemed to be a revelation to a tired but still searching adult soul.

A couple of nights ago, La Reina heard this song and said it always made her feel so joyful. Yeah. So I offer George singing "Here Comes the Sun" at the Concert for Bangla Desh.

"When you've seen beyond yourself - then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there - And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you, and without you. "

"Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait . . . Love one another."


crystal said...

George was my favorite Beatle. Is that the concert with Tom Petty and Eric Clapton and Neil Young too? I have a not so great mp3 file of them all singing "My Back Pages" :-)

cowboyangel said...

Yes, that's the concert. George is his natty purple jacket. Neil in his flannel shirt. PBS shows the concert once in a while - or used to. It was actually a great show. Johnny Cash! He was the other person who left me awed. Lou Reed, Willie Nelson, Tracy Chapman, Roger McGuinn from the Byrds, Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, George Thorogood, Johnny Winter, Kris Kristofferson, the 2 main guys from Pearl Jam, etc. W/ Booker T. and the MGs as house band. I should see if there's a DVD.

Liam said...

I love your stories about that show -- yet another thing you should blog about.

Great post, but I don't know if we people from Texas and Utah get to use the word "bloke."

crystal said...

Hi - i hope your aunt is doing ok.

Jeff said...

I have an 8 x 10 glossy black and white photo of the Beatles signed by George. My grandfather was an usher at the Boston Garden, and sccoped it backstage for me in 1964.

I always like George, and I admired him for always being a spiritual seeker, but I do think he was a bit naive... but he was the youngest out of those guys. With the Maharishi, John Lennon had an excellent BS detector, like he did with a lot of things.

What I liked about George was his dry sense of humor. I love the non-plussed quote he gave to the press after he got busted for possession:

"I'm a tidy man. I keep my socks in the sock drawer and stash in the stash box."

More George quotes

The whole thing with him and Patti Boyd and Eric Clapton was a little bit weird... I also felt a little sorry for him in that Paul and John alwyas had to "work" over his songs to make them worth recording in their eyes. On While My Guitar Gently Weeps, they could hardly be bothered until the great God Clapton walked through the door. Then they were all ears and all business.

cowboyangel said...

Liam, Thanks. Maybe I will blog about it. I should watch the video again.

Crystal, Thanks for asking about my aunt. She just received a good progress report from the doctor and will undergo her third round of chemo this coming Monday. Your continued prayers are appreciated very much. And candles!

Jeff, that's so cool you have an autographed photo. Cool grandfather to do that for you. Love George quote - I hadn't read that one before. The story of the Marharishi and the Beatles' journey to Rikiesh with Donovan, Mike Love, Mia Farrow, etc. really derserves a good book. It's such a bizarre and (I think) funny tale. It also marks a major turning point for the Beatles, doesn't it. No more psychedelic music after that. As for John and Paul "fixing" George's songs, they must have wondered what was going on when All Things Pass did so damn well.