Just living in the material world, yo.

Realizing George Harrison

Lindsay McComb
Nov 30, 2014 · 6 min read

“Let me in here, I know I’ve been here,
Let me into your heart.”
-George Harrison, “I’d Have You Anytime”

Slight genius or dark horse

I read a piece once that described George Harrison as a “lesser genius,” which seems like a pretty shitty thing to say, but really, Harrison was more genius than most of us will ever be. I mean, his first solo album, All Things Must Pass has got to be up there with the best rock albums of all time. A triple-LP worth of genius there.

“To write a song is, to me, more a case of being the vehicle
to get over that feeling of that moment, of that time.”
-George Harrison

Be here now

I can scarcely believe that All Things Must Pass was made almost 50 years ago. Strip down Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production, and a lot of the songs sound pretty fresh. Songs like “I’d Have You Anytime,” “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp,” or “Beware of Darkness” could have been written by bands like Grizzly Bear or Arcade Fire. I hear Harrison’s guitar style echo in the likes of Wilco, Beck and even Sufjan Stevens.

  1. “Here Comes the Sun” | This song all but literally melts my heart. Sometimes I secretly listen to it over and over so that I’ll be able to get the words just right for when I sing it to my future children. I like listening to Harrison perform it live because it has a more folksy feel, but the Beatles version is good too. For live versions, listen closely for some excellent acoustic guitar work.
  2. “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” and “My Sweet Lord” | Though religious, these songs show an honest approach to connecting with something greater than ourselves. No matter what you believe in, you can respect that. The calm, yet uplifting melodies serve as a perfect vessel for sharing Harrison’s search for truth. Respect.
  3. “Dark Horse” | It seems like just about everyone hated Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse. His tour was mocked, his album got scathing reviews — I actually really like it. Particularly the title track. I got the 2014 remastered album, which includes an amazing acoustic version. But even the original with Harrison’s rough, gritty voice is good. It’s good because it just exudes the pain and frustration he was going through at that time — dealing with a failed marriage, substance abuse, and living up to the expectations that everyone had for him. What can I say? I dig brutal honesty.
  4. “Any Road” | Harrison’s last album, Brainwashed, is very mellow, very thoughtful. Finished with the help of his son Dhani and producer Jeff Lynne, after his death in 2001, Brainwashed seems to be an album of life lessons. The song, “Any Road” is a folksy tune full of all kinds of lyrical truth bombs. I like it because it gives me hope for a life well-lived and well-traveled. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
  5. “Beware of Darkness” (Acoustic) and “Be Here Now” | Both of these songs have an amazing ability to ground me. Sage advice, wrapped in simple melodies. It became pretty clear that George Harrison’s interest in spirituality was not a fad or passing fancy, and both of these songs beautifully demonstrate Harrison’s quest for truth and a higher meaning in life.
  • “Let it Down” (Acoustic) and “I’d Have You Anytime” | Music to make out to. Like whoa.
  • “Living in the Material World” | The lyrical cadence is a bit quirky in some parts, but I like it all the same.
  • “Ding Dong Ding Dong” | I like to listen to this while I wash dishes.
  • “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” | Fools illusions everywhere.
  • “Got My Mind Set on You” | Catchy, cute and a childhood favorite (especially the music video).
  • “Crackerbox Palace” | Hated it at first, but the chorus is damn catchy.
  • “All Things Must Pass” | Because the sunrise doesn't last all morning and neither do these lists.

Listen and let it roll

In a cute video about the making of his last album, Brainwashed, Harrison said that “the problem with talking is, the more you say the more you bury yourself. It is very difficult to express what you feel in your heart. In a song though, because you have music and the value of sound, it touches places that other things don’t touch, it can stir you from a much deeper, subtle level.”

The stories that we know

You’re only as good as your stories.

Lindsay McComb

Written by

Design researcher and content strategist who enjoys damn fine cups of coffee.

The stories that we know

You’re only as good as your stories.