George Harrison (1943-2001)

Happy 78th birthday to George Harrison, born on this day in 1943! This might seem like a bit of a departure from my usual posts – but alongside history, music is one of my big loves, and I’d really like to start sharing this alongside what I’m reading and learning about!

I always liked the Beatles growing up and one day I heard my Dad playing You from the Extra Texture album and that cemented him as not only my favourite Beatle, but in the intervening years since (thanks to many discussions not only with my Dad but also the music chats that happened in the university office I shared with my friend Edd), probably my favourite musician of all time.

I find his music so uplifting and pure escapism – and the song All Things Must Pass has become very symbolic of the pandemic for me!

Also, I love that he refinanced his house so that he could fund the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, because he desperately wanted to watch it…

So, I thought today I’d share my favourite songs by him, which I will undoubtedly be listening to all day, alongside watching some of the Martin Scorcese Living in the Material World documentary for the twentieth time…

My ten favourite Harrison songs are:

You

This is happiness in a song for me. Barely any lyrics, but it’s just perfect – a whole mood captured in just under four minutes.

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

This is a really lovely live version – I find Harrison’s music kind of calming, and this is one of his most calming songs to me. Just like All Things Must Pass, it’s a really nice one to relax amongst the crazy current state of the world.

Also, on the George Fest album of the September 2014 concert to honour Harrison’s music, Ben Harper does a wonderful cover.

My Sweet Lord

Harrison’s first single as a solo artist was super successful: it was the biggest-selling single of 1971 in the UK, and was the first number one in both Britain and America by an ex-Beatle. I love the whole All Things Must Pass album but I love this perhaps most of all.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I said Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) was one of the most calming songs by Harrison, but I think this is my most calming song by him. I love listening to this when I feel a bit overwhelmed. It’s a cover he did of a 1930s song from his final album, Brainwashed, which was posthumously completed by his son Dhani Harrison, drummer Jim Keltner and friend Jeff Lynne.

True Love

A cover of a Cole Porter song, this is from Harrison’s album Thirty Three and a Third, which is probably my second favourite of his albums. Bonus, it has this very cute video of Harrison in a lovely striped jacket and boater hat.

Love Comes to Everyone

Super content and relaxed, I really enjoy this song. It features guitar playing from Eric Clapton, Harrison’s long-time friend and collaborator, and Clapton did a really great cover of it too in 2005.

All Things Must Pass

There’s not much I can say about this but that it is brilliant, and a great anthem for making it through any difficult times. This is the recently-released 2020 mix, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. (Also you can’t beat the album cover with Harrison and some oversized gnomes in his beloved garden at his home, Friar Park).

Something (The Beatles)

This was the first number one from the Beatles that wasn’t “written by Lennon-McCartney”. You can read more about the story behind the song at Far Out magazine here. As it has been for many people, it’s one of my favourite love songs of all time, let alone one of my favourite songs by the Beatles.

Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys)

I find everything about The Traveling Wilburys so fun, and I love that you can pick out the individual voices on this song as they are each so distinctive. I’ll never get tired of hearing Roy Orbison burst in with “I’m so tired of being lonely…”, he had such a wonderful voice!

Any Road

Again off Harrison’s posthumous 2002 Brainwashed album, I love how nice and optimistic this tune is. Plus, the video, with plenty of great archival footage and photos, is wonderful!

Share with me your favourites!

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