Category Archives: George Harrison

A series of blogs regarding the late, great George Harrison.

Life Itself

Life Itself George Harrison

 

 

You are the one, You are my love

You send the rain and bring the sun

You stand alone and speak the truth truth

You are the breath of life itself Oh yes, You are,

You are the one

 

You’re in my dream

I hold you there in high esteem

I need you more each step I take

You are the love in life itself Oh yes, You are,

You are the One

all things alt cover

You are the one that I’d die for And you’re all that is real

You are the essence of that Which we taste, touch and feel

 

You are the one, no matter what

You are the real love that I’ve got

You are my friend and when life’s through

You are the light in death itself Oh yes, are,

You are the Onegod dollar

 

They call you Christ, Vishnu Buddha, Jehovah, our Lord

You are, Govindam, Bismillah Creator of all

 

You are the one, no matter what

You are the real love that I’ve got real love

You are my friend and when life’s through

You are the light in death itself Oh yes, are,

You are the One

 

You are my love

You send the rain and bring the sun

You stand alone and speak the truth

You are the breath of life itself, oh yes, You are

You are the breath of life itself Oh yes, You are,

 

You are the one

george stained glass

In an earlier article in this George Harrison series, I wrote about a couple of the songs he had written that were focused around chants. For me, and especially in the song ‘Let it Roll (The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp), the underlying chant really did its job – focusing my mind, in this case on the song itself and, as a corollary, to think about what I had just heard.

This song, Life Itself, is a song in which the author is reciting what he knows to be true about his God.

In a world of violence and false ecuneminalism, among other things, George writes that, no matter what God is called, he is the One.

george while albumCourageous thinking.

I find this song hypnotizing – partly because of the swirling guitars but also because of the content of the poem. I hate to write something that is trite in the extreme, but Life Itself is like a 4:25 long hug – a chance to contemplate your God, your place in the cosmos, the security of a strong relationship with your God. And the guitar solo at the end provides a perfect background to contemplate what you just heard.

Exaltation? This is it.

exaltation

Hallelujah – Hare Krishna

Everyone has, of course, heard the background singers chant in the song My Sweet Lord. After all, it’s an incredibly popular song and George Harrison’s highest ever charting single.george my sweet lord

The song has a positive vibe to it that is just hard to beat.

The chant is interesting too. Like all chants, it is steady, monotone, nothing too exciting. It starts out using the word ‘Hallelujah’ and does so for the first fifteen chants. Then it switches to Hare Krishna, (Hare Hare, Hare Rama) six times, goes back to Hallelujah and then full on, during the coda, into a Hare Krishna chant.

LET IT ROLL (BALLAD OF SIR FRANKIE CRISP) is a song from the All Things Must Pass album with a truly amazing chant. This one is a simple Hare Krishna chant but it is very deep down in the mix. I wasn’t aware of through several listenings of the song.

(Sir Frankie Crisp, according to Wikipedia, …

FrankCrisp
Sir Frank(ie) Crisp

Sir Frank Crisp, 1st Baronet (25 October 1843 in London – 29 April 1919) was an English lawyer and microscopist. He was also a former owner of Friar Park, the home George Harrison bought in 1970.)

In fact, the day I first heard it was a cold blustery day in the autumn of 1981. A friend and I had been at the library at the local university. We went up there to watch 2001: A Space 2001 space odysseyOdyssey, (this is back before dvd’s, on demand, even vcr’s. Going to the library was the only way to see out of date movies.) We sat in the cubicles and watched the flick with headphones on, not interacting at all. When the movie ended, we parted and, on my way home was listening to a tape, (yes, a cassette tape – won, has technology changed things) of All Things Must Pass. Volume was really loud and, while driving along, I heard the chant. It so shocked me, not having heard it before, I had to stop, rewind and listen again.

It became a very mystical song for me after that day.

Magic!all things alt cover

The Cycle of Life

You remember the movie Time Bandits? (If you don’t, read about it here.) Terry Gilliam’s Opus.george time map

George was known as the ‘Quiet One’ when he was fab. Later, as he got to be known, he was also known as the funny one. He started a company called Hand Made Films, which produced such hilarious films as Time Bandits, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl and more serious fare such as Withnail and I and Shanghai Surprise. All told, around 50 films.

Yes, George was a funny guy. But listening to his music, you find it is steeped in mysticism and meaning.

One of the themes that repeatedly arises is the cycle, or progressive series, repeating sequence or some such.

The title track of his first post-Beatles solo album, (did you know he released a solo album wonderwallwhile with the Beatles? He did. 1967’s Wonderwall.) The album was called All Things Must Pass and the title track uses the phases of a day as his setting to get his message across.

———————george stained glass

All Things Must Pass

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning

A cloudburst doesn’t last all day

It seems my love is up and has left you with no warning

It’s not always gonna be this grey

All things must pass

All things must pass away

Sunset doesn’t last all evening

A mind can blow those clouds away

After all this my love is up and must be leaving

It’s not always gonna be this grey

All things must pass

None of life’s strings can last

So I must be on my way

To face another day

Now the darkness only stays the nighttime

In the morning it will fade away

Daylight is good at arriving at the right time

It’s not always gonna be this grey

All things must pass

All things must pass away

——————–

The message, metaphorically looking at life itself, is hard, good, dark, bright times grace all but in the end, it’s not always gonna be this grey.

I would tend to agree.

You may or may not know, the Beatles were, of course, pioneers in almost everything. Videos, which exploded in the ’80’s, were another area in which they led the way. Check out Penny Lane.

In the late ’70’s, George was still making videos. The hit from his 33 1/3 album was called george blow away 2Blow Away, again invoking cycles as the thematic base, this time equating the darkness of a storm approaching, doing it’s damage and moving on to the ups and downs experienced throughout life.

———————–george blow away

Blow Away

Day turned black, sky ripped apart

Rained for a year ’til it dampened my heart

Cracks and leaks The floorboards caught rot

About to go down I had almost forgot.

All I got to do is to love you

All I got to be is, be happy

All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it

Blow Away, Blow Away, Blow Away.

Sky cleared up, day turned to bright

Closing both eyes now the head filled with light

Hard to remember what a state I was in

Instant amnesia Yang to the Yin.

All I got to do is to love you

All I got to be is, be happy

All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it

Blow Away, Blow Away, Blow Away.

Wind blew in, cloud was dispersed

Rainbows appearing, the pressures were burst

Breezes a-singing, now feeling good

The moment had passed Like I knew that it should.

All I got to do is to love you

All I got to be is, be happy

All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it

Blow Away, Blow Away, Blow Away.

—————

The video is absolutely hilarious. But be prepared, it’s pretty cheezy. I love it.

And the message is an undeniably positive one.

As is the message from All Things Must Pass.

Cycles go up, down, around and back again. And if you start in a good place, perhaps you will end up in a better place.

Yang to the Yin indeed, George.george while album

Just For Today – George Harrison

 

I Got My Mind Set On Yougot my mind...

When We Was Fabfab

Two big hits from George Harrison’s Cloud Nine album. Hardly songs of a suicidal victim of depression, wouldn’t you say.

Got My Mind … was a cover of an obscure song written by Ruby Clark, certainly obscure no more.

When We Was Fab was the creation of a genius in production. I love the song for the periodic feel of the ’60’s and the ‘Fab’ era. And the video, a production of Godley and Crème, formerly of 10cc, produced the video, in which Ringo is the Starr, and its just pure Golden Memorobilia.

———————————————————————

Yet, there is this …

Just For Today – George Harrison

Just for today

I could try to live through this day only

Not deal with all life’s problems

Just for today

 

If just for one night

I could feel not sad and lonely

Not be my own life’s problem

Just for one night

Just for today

———————————————————————

A moving piano song that one should not play in the presence of others – it simply takes too much concentration to listen to it properly.

The suicide of Robin Williams has weighed heavily on me.

I don’t know if he was depressed, although I’ve heard he was, and trying to treat it. I don’t know what was going on with him but I feel a common bond with him. Not because he was in many films I saw from my ’20’s through until recently, starting with Mork and Mindy, but because of the improvisational nature of his craft. Mine, on a much smaller scale, is the same.

Read this, from the editor of Cracked.comcracked

Don’t let the title of the magazine fool you, this article is insightful.

So, after having read the article, what do we make of the poem?

Was George depressed?

I’ll never know.

But this song explains how I feel when I am feeling down. And feeling further down that just down. It explains a lot.

But it has been a song that has played in my head for over 20 years – since I first heard it. And it doesn’t play only when I’m sad and lonely or have problems that I feel are caused by me only. It plays often – for no reason at all. And it reminds me of how fragile life is. How fragile love is, too. And how fragile we, as humans are. Despite the repeated comfortings from others that we are not alone, we often are. And there is nothing worse.

I wrote about it in my song Turnin’ Me.geoffreycode_TurninMe

Thank you George, for a great, and vastly under-rated song.george bangladesh 3

Empathy for the businessman? What the Hell?

That’s The Way It Goes – George Harrison

There’s a man talking on the radio
What he’s saying I don’t really know
Seems he’s lost some stocks and shares
Stops and stares
He’s afraid I know
That’s the way it goes

There’s a man talking of the promised land
He’ll aquire it with some Krugerrand
Subdivide and deal it out
Feel his clout
He can stoop so low
And that’s the way it goes

There’s an actor who hopes to fit the bill
Sees a shining city on a hill
Step up close and see he’s blind
Wined and dined
All he has is pose
And that’s the way it goes

There’s a fire that burns away the lies
Manifested in the spiritual eye
Though you won’t understand the way I feel
You conceal, all there is to know
That’s the way it goes
george dream away cover
This is a good song and the lyrics point to a couple of concepts George was concerned about, namely, materialism and abuse of power with riches, the shallowness of the poseur actor and all it represents as Hollywood spreads its poisonous messages through movies. These are from verses two and three.

Verse four is a spiritual message and, as I am not a practitioner of any eastern religions, (although I took a course on this at university), the message is a little obscure to me.

Really, its verse one that interests me. This verse has occupied a puzzled part of my brain for some time.

There’s a man talking on the radio
What he’s saying I don’t really know
Seems he’s lost some stocks and shares
Stops and stares
He’s afraid I know
That’s the way it goes

OK, so: financial guy or investor on the radio speaking of a crash or some-such. Looks like he is in the midst of losing a lot of security or money or both.

george bangladesh 3

Most of the time, when you hear about stock crashes or investors losing money, the report is regarding corporate earnings, sometimes the little guy, but you never hear about the big guy, the rich guy, the portfolio’d guy and what he feels. Most assume he’ll bounce back as, if he was a prudent investor, he was diversified.

Who knows?

What I find interesting is the sentiment that George brings in that this guy is afraid. It’s very empathetic, even sympathetic and it is not something one hears every day.

I am not a fan of the pithy little sayings that people post on facebook, twitter, other social media. Sure, many of these things sound good, but they are always without context and, therefore, meaningless. I suppose you could put them in the context of your own life and situation, and try to apply them but then they become one dimensional solutions.

george let it be

They are, in fact, a waste of electrons and thought.

The point is, everyone is in a situation right now. Some are dreadful, some are pleasant, some are middlin’ but all have many shades and characteristics. The guy on the radio, well, his portfolio crash is occupying his mind and, as the process unfolds, that event will affect much of his life. His stocks will come back, or he’ll move what’s left to more secure environs but the fallout in the short term, long term, personal, professional, social are all up in the air.

Empathy for the businessman.

I’d be scared too.

Most aspects of change scare me. But, it is inevitable and must, therefore, be embraced.

jaffray sign 2

George Harrison – Dream Away

georhe harrison
People often look at me like I have two heads when I tell them that my favourite movie is Time Bandits.

What?!? What the hell is Time Bandits?

In fact, it’s a movie that came out in 1980, was pretty popular, (grossed in the neighbourhood of $45 million) and is an epic journey of bizarre proportions.

The IMDb sums it up thusly: A young boy accidentally joins a band of dwarves as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.george time bandits

It’s a little more involved than that, of course. The scene shifts from modern day England to the Battle of Castiglione and Napoleon to the Middle Ages, to Ancient Greece, the Time of Legends, the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where the Supreme Being, in the guise of a bureaucrat, finally materializes, and dispenses with Evil.

This is a colourless, if not accurate, description but the movie is brilliant.

After all the hi-jinx, poor Kevin, (the little boy) is wandering on his street, perplexed. His parents have blown up in a mysterious explosion, (Supreme Being says, minutes earlier: Be careful with that stuff. That’s concentrated evil.), a crowd is gathering, his house has burnt down and he is calling out to his mom and dad.

And the music starts.

The music to which I refer, is a song, which George Harrison contributed to the movie, (it was produced, after all, by his company, Hand Made Films). The song is called Dream Away. It appeared on his album ‘Gone Troppo’,(1982) which turned out to be his last studio album for five years, until Cloud Nine, (1987).

The song is a great song. And that is an understatement. Perhaps because I love the movie so much, and the lyrics are a summary, lyrically, of the action in the movie as stills from the movie flash by, I also love the song.

george time map

But there is more to it than that. It’s a well-crafted song, meaningful, refers, symbolically, to a life cycle, (more about this and George Harrison music later in this George Harrison series of blogs) and has one of those melodies that is at once hopeful and filled with melancholy.

freddiemercuryimg461These are the best songs – hopeful yet melacholy. They are all too rare, (which is why, I suppose, they are all the better), and, when one can write a song like that, it is a song to be cherished. (Other examples of hopeful, melancholy songs, by my definition, would include:roger hodgson
Along Came Mary – Roger Hodgson, Hide in Your Shell – Supertramp, Spread Your Wings – Queen, Ten Years Gone – Led Zeppelin, Back Seat of My Car and Too Many People, both from Ram, by Paul McCartney. There are others I should put here but am forgetting and others that I have forgotten about all together – songs that were important and have drifted forever into the ether.)

I remember where I was when I heard Dream Away for the first time on satellite radio. Yes, a seminal event indeed.

The song has that particular instrumentation that George Harrison was fond of, (before he began collaborating with Jeff Lynne, formerly of ELO, which produced another unique sound) and, if you like, you love it. If you don’t, you hate it. I like it and, ergo, I love it. When you listen to George sing, it’s hard to believe he spent a life time smoking. His voice is soft and gentle as he takes you on a guided journey through whatever world to which one of his songs is referring, in this case time travel through time holes, robberies with international criminals, Supreme Being, Ogres and Evil.

This is the song that began my habit of sitting through the credits when I go to a movie, or watch one on television. The credits are sometimes interesting, when you recognize that someone you’ve heard of did something in the movie, but it is also a time when many page jonesproducers play a great song, (as in, during the credits of The Song Remains the Same, Led Zeppelin’s great concert movie from 1976, when they play the studio version of Stairway to Heaven, followed but utter silence – great moment). It is also a time to gather your wits, think about what you just saw, wait for the crowd to thin out.

Dream Away is the conclusion to a movie that explores such themes as reincarnation, good vs evil, the existence of a Supreme Being and if He created the world in six days how did he do it, doing the right, (or wrong), thing with the tools you have, trust, friendship, persistence, and, underlying all this, silliness.

Dream Away, by George Harrison. As the song says, so I do.

george let it be