A few months ago, I blogged about Paul McCartney’s concert at Wrigley Field and how his tributes to John Lennon and George Harrison were so very different: while the song dedicated to John was full of regret and guilt, the one for George clearly showed the love they felt free to express to one another.
HBO has been showing Martin Scorcese’s documentary about George Harrison, “Living in the Material World”. His wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani, spoke fondly and honestly about George. But it was in the words of his friends that you really got a sense of the man: strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures.
One friend admitted that it was still difficult for him to talk about George, ten years after his death.
Another laughed about George being stubborn enough, even as he was dying, to buy a house in Switzerland to avoid the tax man (the subject of one of his best-known songs).
But it was Ringo’s emotional story of his last visit with him, at that house in Switzerland, that stuck with me. By then, George was too sick to get out of bed. Ringo had to leave: his own daughter was in Boston, diagnosed with a brain tumor, and he had to get to her. When he told his friend why he was leaving, George asked, “do you want me to go with you?”
They both knew it was impossible, but it was a measure of the man to want to support his friend, even as his own death approached.
As the almost 4-hour documentary shows, George wanted to leave the world a better place. Most would assume he would do that with music, and he certainly did. But for his friends, the music was almost incidental. It was the love he showed his friends that made their world a better place.
“Do you want me to go with you?”
Most would say, I suspect, that he goes with them every day. So it is with our friends, too. Friends die, but friendships don’t.
Learn more about “Living in the Material World” at George’s website.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I can't say too much more than that, because the friend who passed who brought me to the idea of grief blogging, and following grief blogs, was a huge Beatles fan (like myself, both of us were Harrison nuts.) So, when I attempted to listen to that video you linked to, I was filled with a huge awareness that we won't get the chance to discuss this. That's an ouch, but I like the last line of your post. 'Friends die, friendships don't.' Perfect.
Thanks for your kind comments! The first concert I ever attended was the Beatles, so I'm also a huge Beatles fan (in case you couldn't tell). I've watched this documentary twice all the way through, and it's really fascinating. I thought I wouldn't learn anything new about George, but I did. Now if only Paul would wise up and marry me sometime. ;)
Thanks so much for writing about George. When my friends and I were around twelve, we formed a Beatles club. My best friend, Diane, was John and I was George, our favorite Beatles. Ironically, Diane died in a car accident in eleventh grade. She always said John would be the first Beatle to die. I chose George for some spiritual connection and it turned out he was the most spiritual of the group. I recommend reading Patty Boyd's memoir about her life with George and Eric Clapton. She's a bit of an airhead and didn't seem to understand George, but back then men still weren't that enlightened.
I think the way George died was grace incarnate. He really had made peace.
I'm glad the documentary is giving an insight to George and showing us the side that people didn't know. Thanks for blogging about him.
Yeah, Patty Boyd, what a goofy memoir. This documentary is really good, and I recommend it to any and all George fans. Also love "The Concert for George". In that, too, his friends talk about how it was a way for them to work through their grief. And the music's great!
Wonderful review, Victoria. I'd like to see it, but 4 hours? Man that's long.
Joe, HBO is showing it in two parts. When the first part ended, I was surprised; didn't feel like I'd been watching that long. Plus, the music is so great, you don't mind.
There's sort of a natural intermission, too, so it's not bad. Well worth the time spent!
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