A Brief One from Doug Draper
Posted March 4th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
“Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love is up
And has left you with no warning
But it’s not always going
To be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away”
– Lyrics by George Harrison, from All Things Must Pass
If you are old enough to remember seeing The Beatles make their North American television debut way back in February of 1964, here is another marker for how much time has slipped away since then.
The youngest member of that legendary foursome – George Harrison – would have turned 75 years old this winter, had he not died from cancer in November of 2001.
Ardent student of pop music that I am, I cannot let the last few weeks of this winter melt away without mentioning that George Harrison – arguably one of the most successful and influential creators of the music over the past 50 or 60 years – would have celebrated his 75th birthday this past February 25th.
George Harrison had his first self-penned song, ‘Don’t Bother Me’, included on The Beatles’ second Parlophone album, ‘With the Beatles’ (the same 14 track LP was called ‘Beatlemania’ when Capital Records first released it in Canada) and went on writing his own songs, appearing one or two or three songs at a time, on future Beatles albums until the band dissolved in 1970.
He worked to earn recognition and respect for his work in the shadow of one of the most successful song-writing teams in the history of recorded music – John Lennon and Paul McCartney – with songs like ‘If I Needed Someone’, ‘Something’. ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. He also played a major role in introducing the Western world to the mystic sounds of India and to one of that country’s musical giants, Ravi Shankar, by first playing a sitar on a Lennon/McCartney song called ‘Norwegian Wood’.
When The Beatles broke up, George Harrison had a backlog of great songs he was not able to get on the group’s albums, but that he used to fill four sides of a six-side vinyl album released just before Christmas in 1970 called ‘All Things Must Pass’.
Many music critics still name ‘All Things Must Pass’ as the best solo album released by any of The Beatles and it was the beginning of a solo career that proved more successful in terms of album says and the quality of the music on them than even that of Paul McCartney.
It was a career that was certainly not hurt by the fact that George Harrison shared studio time over the years with the likes of Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra fame, his old Beatles mate Ringo Starr and many others.
Most of these artists and others, including Ravi Shankar and his sitar-playing daughter Annoushka Shankar, performed at a gala event held in London, England’s Royal Albert Hall a year after George Harrison died.
That event, which also includes Paul McCartney performing ‘Something’ and sharing the stage with Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, is title ‘Concert for George’ has just been re-released on DVD and Blu Ray with beautifully remastered sound.
If you like George Harrison as much as I do, getting together with a group of friends and watching ‘Concert for George’ is a great way of celebrating the musical legacy he has left us. (If you want to buy a copy, please try to get it in a real brick and mortar record store in your region!)
If you are looking for a nice musical moment to remember him by, George Harrison’s final studio album, ‘Brainwashed’, was released the year after his death, and is a solid one.
On that, he breaks away from original compositions for a moment and offers up a Harold Arlen classic, ‘Devil In The Deep Blue Sea’, backing up his lead vocals on one of his favourite instruments, the ukulele. It is a cheerful, uplifting, not to mention brave performance by a person who knew he probably wasn’t going to live to see his 60th birthday.
Remembering you on your 75th and all of the great musical gives you gave us, George.
To listen to songs from the album ‘All Things Must Pass’, click on –
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