The above image is from CNN.com.
George Harrison passed away on Thursday. It was November 29, 2001, but the date itself really doesn't matter. What matters is that all of us who listened to George Harrison's music, with the Beatles and in his later careers, have now passed another mile-marker on the uncertain road of life.
My memory of the Beatles goes back to 1972. The Red Album and the Blue Album came out at the beginning of the next year, which is when I really started listening to them. It was always either at Marc Cornier's house or at Richard Fiedotin's house. Both had older sisters who must have bought the albums. It was always the background music to whatever we were doing: playing with toy soldiers, playing games or doing whatever else it is that six year olds do.
Richard gave me my first Beatle's album when I was 11. Of course, it was Meet the Beatles. And what a great album to have. Even now I frequently rank those short 22 minutes of music as my favorite album. Why? It starts off with "I Want to Hold Your Hand", still one of the most exhuberant, upbeat and infectious songs of all time. While I no longer have it, my cousin Nil has it on his bedroom wall in Bombay. And I have commissioned earlier this month my little brother Shomit to recreate it for me on a CD since it is no available on CD.
The highlights of George Harrison's impact on popular culture include movies like "Water", "The Life of Brian", "Time Bandits", the gala concert for Bangladesh in August of 1971, the sitar on Norwegian Wood, and arguably so much of bringing Eastern philosophy in contact with the West. The Beatles collectively contributed so much to music and gave the world so many firsts in their continuous push against the envelope of creativity.
Since I started my own music collection, I would estimate that no less than half of all of the time that I have listened to it has been music by the Beatles together or as solo artists. And if I add in the related music, such as ELO, Queen, Julian Lennon, Jeff Lynne, the Traveling Wilburies, Tom Petty, the Rutles, etc., then it adds up to another 25% or so. We watch movies perhaps an average of one hour a day, drive perhaps one hour a day, but music seems to be present all the time! We listen to it in our cars, watch it on TV, hum or whistle our favorite songs to ourselves all day.
A quick run through of highlights in loose chronological order:
Meet the Beatles, Ed Sullivan, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Love Me Do, Day Tripper, the sitar, Yellow Submarine, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, Sergeant Pepper's, All You Need Is Love, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Let it Be, Here Comes the Sun. The list goes on and on, but this is a good, albeit, quick, representation.
My favorite George songs:
I am certainly missing some, but this is the list right now off of the top of my list.
So George Harrison will be missed greatly by all those of us who have listened to his music, and the music of his peers, for so long and so often. Thanks for everything! It was a great ride.
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Here are some of my favorite albums of The Beatles and other artists, not including Greatest Hits albums and not including other music I listen to such as Classical Music:
No great surprises. I see that I have a pretty flat representation here...
Elvis, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other artists combined took pop to where it was when The Beatles hit the scene. And that was a pretty sweet, syrupy sound complimented by the high-harmonies of the Beach Boys (Les Garcons de la Plage) and offset by a bit of angst from the Supremes.
The sound wasn't that different from Bill Haley 7 years earlier. But when The Beatles came, everything changed.
It's probably a bit of a stretch, but The Beatles may have been the largest catalyst, for better or worse, of the 60s. Then again, maybe it was Vietnam.
I do listen to Buddy Holly, BTW. In fact, I just missed going to his high school when I lived in Lubbock. I was very disappointed that I wasn't going to live in that district. The Beatles named themselves largely after Buddy Holly's Crickets. :)
Let's face it... 100 years from now, or even later, while the Spice Girls have long faded into obscurity or broken up (what, it's already happened after one big hit?), I envision that Lennon, or in particular the Beatles, will have joined the annals of classical music along with Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, et al. My only difference with the poll is that I would have included the Beatles as a collective entity. Though Lennon is generally my favorite, I don't feel like he would have made it big without the other three.
As one of the Beatles, the group was responsible for so many firsts and also pushing the envelope, including:
But they have an outstanding social dimension that I really appreciate. They also did things that really took some going out on a limb and risking everything, like:
But what really stands out in my mind is that I ardently believe that they made the best pop music ever. Consider:
NOTE: As of November, 2002, a new George Harrison album named "Brainwashed" is due. So is Paul McCartney's "Back in the US".