For three years I’ve been exploring the underrated solo catalogue of George Harrison. Master slide guitar player. Beautiful singer. Passionate gardener. Lover of ukuleles, India, fast cars and Monty Python. Frequently described as one of the very nicest guys among rock stars; at once mystical, spiritual, charming and wonderfully humorous.
So “normal” yet so unique. But while few would deny that at the top of his game with the Beatles he could write songs with the best of them (“Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), too many don’t pay attention to Harrison’s solo work – or at least not to anything after his masterful and revered 1970 All Things Must Pass. And that, believe me, is a bloody shame. Here’s why.
This comes from his album Brainwashed (2002). Doesn’t it sound as if you’re actually stuck inside a soft, warm cloud as soon as it begins to take you away? Dreamy.
Bob Dylan wrote this little gem in 1970 but didn’t record it. (Typically.) So it was up to hi friend to sing it, which George did, with perfect tenderness.
Some truly mind-blowing slide guitar work here! Apart from that, simply a very, very cool title track to one of his best albums (from 1987). See you there on cloud nine. (By the way, this is how I learned that in English you don’t say “cloud seven,” as we Germans do. Rock music educates!)
It’s not naïve but sincere and true and highly emotive. With this lovely single from his 1973 album Living in the Material World, Harrison demoted McCartney and Wings from the Billboard charts, a little satisfaction for every Beatles fan with not-so-fond memories of those ugly “Let It Be” arguments.
Another one from Cloud Nine. A constant reminder of why I love this guy’s voice. He’s always been not just one of the greatest guitarists in the world (no could deny that, could they?) but also a fantastically expressive singer. Just listen!
I’ll never forget my 15-year-old neighbor asking me for one of my Harrison CDs because he had heard this song in Season 6 of How I Met Your Mother. According to his dad, he went on to play it nonstop for the next two weeks because, in his words, “it’s just so…so damn beautiful.”
“Arrived like strangers in the night…” The not-so-quiet Beatle never loved playing in front of huge, loud crowds, but I love the way he looked back at those crazy magical times in 1987 – it’s just so George. “Long time ago when we was fab/ But it’s all over now, Baby Blue.” (Another gem, “All Those Years Ago, covers similar ground, about the late and great Lennon.)
Well known as it is, how could I not include this here when it’s such a gorgeous mix of sadness, comfort and beauty?
Whenever “All Things Must Pass” has made me cry for the umpteenth time, this is a good song (from 1976) to turn to. It’s cool. It’s sexy.
“All I got to do is to love you/ All I got to be is, be happy/ All it’s got to take is some warmth to make it/ Blow away, blow away, blow away.” It’s so simple.