|Type:||Memorial (for the deceased)|
|Location:||, United Kingdom|
I just finished listening to my Concert for George CD. For those of you unfamiliar with the disc, it was a tribute concert that was recorded on November 29th, 2002, exactly one year after George Harrison passed away.
As I was listening, my mind harkened back to another George Harrison concert event that took place some 30 years earlier on August 1st, 1971; The Concert for Bangla Desh. This was a benefit concert organized by George to raise money for UNICEF to save the starving people of India. This was a first in concert history (as were many things Beatle-related). But then again “first”, “ground-breaking”, “unheard of”, and “ record-breaking” were all terms frequently associated with all things Beatle. This was at a time when musicians were supposed to be mindless, uncaring bottom-feeders who weren’t supposed to have an opinion on world events. George Harrison, as well as his band-mates, were none of these. It was a magical concert and if you get a chance to pick up the re-mastered DVD, please do so.
But I digress.
The Concert for George was organized as a way for many of George’s friends and collaborators to come together and honor him and his music. A few of the rock luminaries on the stage that night had also graced the stage with George at the Bangla Desh concert: Ravi Shankar, George’s spiritual advisor, friend and teacher of the sitar; Eric Clapton, his closest friend and musical collaborator, who had worked on many of George’s Beatle and post-Beatle songs; Ringo, his old band mate and “brother” (Ringo often referring to George as his baby brother); and Billy Preston, (who sadly has now, too, passed), the only artist to ever share billing on a Beatles record. Others on hand to honor George were his son Dhani, heir to the Harrison empire and an accomplished guitarist in his own right; his other former band-mate Paul (and I dare say that had John still been alive, he too would have joined in.); Jeff Lynne, one of the Traveling Wilburys; Tom Petty; Anoushka Shankar,, Ravi’s daughter; and others.
But I once again digress.
As you listen to the CD (or watch the video), and hear as the artists try to meticulously re-create each note perfectly, something comes through other than wonderful versions of amazing songs. And that is the spirit of the songs. George’s music always was thought provoking, heart-felt, soul searching and optimistic. George didn’t always write happy 3 minute fluff songs, but they were always hopeful. Each time I listen to the CD, I hear new things, but there are always “constants” each time I listen. Tom Petty’s version of “I Need You” is so wonderfully done in that you can hear the pain and loss in his voice, transforming a simple love song of the 60’s into a mourning ballad for a lost loved one. Ringo, who sings “Photograph”, a song he co-wrote with George, puts it so well when he says “the meaning has changed now.” Eric’s take on “Beware of Darkness” once again conveys that sense of loss, but underlying it all is a sense of hope. And when Paul sings “All Things Must Pass” you can hear the waiver in his voice as he tries to keep the emotions in check. We all realize that All Things Must Pass, but it is hard when those things or people closest to us do so. And throughout the concert, one cannot help but feel the joy, love, admiration and longing for George.
It is a loving tribute to “The Quiet One”. Although he was not as prolific a songwriter as Paul or John, his songs were always magnificent, with such amazing guitar work and lyrical artistry.
I never cried when George passed away, unlike when John died, when I could not be consoled. Today as I was listening to “All Things Must Pass”, I broke down in tears and realized how much I missed him, as well as John. As I approach the ripe age of 50, I never thought that half of the greatest band in the world would be gone before I reached that milestone. Celebrities are like your favorite pet sometimes, you wish they could live forever or you could freeze them in a moment in time to relive that feeling whenever you want. Sadly, we can’t do that, so we must occasionally dust off the old LPs, crank the stereo up and remember the joy that their music brought to us All Those Years Ago.