By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)
Lyrics in Sir George Harrison’s “Run of the Mill” launches an attempted analysis of unexpected solo careers such as the quiet Beatle’s (who was actually the first of the four to have a solo record) and who was one of the most monumentous solo artists because he ventured outside of his previously associated genres to accommodate his messages.
Most fans were aware he wrote and/or performed at least one or two songs for most Beatle albums. And while in the earlier years, they were oftentimes not “A-sides,” the songs he composed himself progressed as some of the most substantial songs in music history.
Indeed, one of the masters, Frank Sinatra, recorded “Something” and was once quoted as saying, “[it was] the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” Even more substantial are the songs written after the supposed muse of said composition cheated on him and left him for his best friend. (Oh, but giving him a guitar a while later was sure to be an even exchange!)
Maybe it was. George later asserted the song was actually about God. (Hindu god, Krishna, who is also a god of music).
Joshua M. Greene, writer of Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, quoted Harrison in the book:
“Actually,” George said, “it’s about Krishna. But I couldn’t say he could I? I had to say she,” adding with a twinkle in his eye, “or they would think I’m a poof.”
Greene went on to say, “George rarely elaborated on his work, preferring to let the music speak for itself. Still, in many songs he had begun equating love between a soul and God with love between a woman and a man – it was often hard to tell what which he meant.”
This is where he became a guru in his own right.
The longstanding and respected tradition of a sacred student-teacher relationship in Indian culture extended into his training with Ravi Shankar, a renowned sitarist. He reflected such sentiments in his solo lyrics. These sorts of relationships, and friendships, were most praised. Incidentally, it was this approach that gained the love of fans that really appreciated records such as, “All Things Must Pass,” and “Living in the Material World.”
Though he never gave me lessons like how Ravi and he had, he has taught me so much about life and death.
Mr. Harrison would have been 70 on Feb. 25, 2013. Happy 70th, Georgie! But you don’t care what age you are or aren’t. You were always a kindred spirit of mine. I secretly wished you could have been my teacher. But he was anyway. Just listen to the records, kids.
“Music is the higest form of education.” – The Rig Veda
The Solo Harrison Discography:
- Wonderwall Music (1968)
- Electronic Sound (1969)
- All Things Must Pass (1970)
- Living In the Material World (1973)
- Dark Horse (1974)
- Extra Texture (Read All About It) (1975)
- Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976)
- George Harrison (1979)
- Somewhere In England (1981)
- Gone Troppo (1982)
- Cloud Nine (1987)
- Brainwashed (2002)