Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Reviewing a Dark Horse

A couple of weeks ago I watched the documentary on George Harrison's life, George Harrison: Living in the material world, by famous director Martin Scorsese, and damn what a really nice one it is!

Here's the link to the trailer in case you guys haven't already seen it:

I readily admit that my favorite member of the Beatles is Paul Mccartney. I love and enjoy his music, both his contributions to the Beatles, his Wings', and solo stuff. After that I guess is John, then George, then poor Ringo's last. Sorry Ringo.

That being said, after watching this well put together documentary on Harrison's life, made me appreciate him even more that I'd thought possible.

Watching the over 2 hour movie, Scorsese beautifully illustrates the type of life Harrison lived, and what he encountered as a rockstar and celebrity. He does that through various interviews with friends and family members and film footage of concerts and events he was part of. These interviews and film footage make you feel as though you're there right alongside Harrison, going through these things right along with him, as if you're really there.

You learn how spiritual he became, starting in 1966, when he first became aware of Indian music and Hindusim. He threw himself into that so heavily, that he even convinced the rest of the Beatles to join him on a trip to India to meditate and better themselves mentally after feeling burned out enough to stop touring altogether. There they met with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who taught them all about Transcendental Meditation, and the like. Of course, in the end, certain things happened that caused the whole trip to be seen as a disaster.

This didn't dissuade George from his spiritual path, but only served to strengthen his resolve. Over the years he would continue his spiritual and musical growth outside the Beatles after they officially broke up in 1970, and that became evident with the continuous flow of material he put out one after another. This occurred because while in the Beatles he only contributed a small amount of songs for their albums, while John and Paul wrote the majority of the hits. Over time he stockpiled many classic songs, such as "All things must pass", "I dig love", "Awaiting you all, and "Wah Wah."

Then there's his historic first of it's kind, concert for Bangladesh in 1970.
This was all due to George Harrison's good friend and mentor Ravi Shankar, coming to him to tell him about the plight in Bangladesh at the time. Harrison and record produce Phil Spector(yeah that crazy guy)set it up, and he along with a bunch of other friends and musicians performed 2 two-hour concerts live to be recorded on film. This film contains footage from the concert, and what a performance it was! Even ever faithful Ringo was here, although John and Paul were not.

The concert raised millions, and was regarded as the standard with which future celebrity benefits were modeled after.

Other things touched on in the documentary that stood out to me was his relationship with friend and fellow Musician Eric Clapton. These two shared a life-long friendship, and even shared girlfriends!

You see Harrison used to be married to Patti Boyd, who became over time romantically interested in Eric Clapton. Soon things came to a head, and Eric was upfront with his friend, and told him how much he had fallen in live his friends' wife. Clapton claims Harrison told him to "take her", and so Clapton did just that. The interviews with Boyd and Clapton on this topic are very interesting to watch. I knew Clapton had fallen in love with Boyd, because as the world knows, that's where his famous hit song "Layla" comes from, but to hear the progression of how that all came about, and Harrison's nonchalant attitude about the whole thing kind of had me going "huh?"
Of course their friendship survived all that, and they continued on as friends until Harrison's death.

That's another topic that is very interesting to hear about. Harrison became diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. Following that was an attack on his and his wife's lives by a deranged man who felt he was "on a mission from God" to kill him. Both Harrison and his wife Olivia survived the attack, but Olivia felt the brutal attack seemed to cause a remission of the cancer.

He ultimately succumbed to a brain tumor, and passed away in 2001.

What struck me was how Olivia was explaining that Harrison was preparing himself for death. He was preparing his spirit throughout his life to leave his body on his own terms. Very fascinating. Would that we could all do that.

And of course there's little bits in-between all that, like how he personally financed Monty Python's first movie, "The Life and Times of Brian, by putting up his own house as collateral. So yeah, you can blame/thank Harrison for that depending on how you feel about them.

And of course there's a little group called The Travelling Wilburys......

If you haven't ever checked this movie out, or have have heard about it, but been on the fence about it, I strongly urge you to see it, beg, borrow, or steal it. It's just that damn good!

Scorsese demonstrates here why he's so good when it comes to movies and documentaries, that you'll find yourself instantly becoming both a fan of his, and Harrison's. So go check it, and you won't regret that you did.


Dan said...

Nice write up mate, will keep an eye out for it. I never realised how many hits George had solo till I did my stint on a classic hits radio station... and this proves I still have more to learn about the man!

StarryPluto said...

Very good post Dale. I'm glad that you got so much out of the movie. Feel free to borrow it and the Concert anytime! xoxo

Dale Bagwell said...

-Dan, yeah I did too, made all the more apparent after watching this documentary. I was already aware of the Clapton/Boyd thing, and the concert for Bangladesh, but did not know he was responsible for the 1st Monty Python movie, or even that he created his own production company to create/help create films and other projects he believed in.

He was a man of many talents and many friends.

-Starry, you know it! Thanks for stopping by as always. I'm going to miss you.

Omega Agent1 said...

This was so thoughtful and well written. You pulled me into what you experienced.

Paul is my favorite also but now I'm going to try and discover George. Thanks for this one.

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