This post originally appeared in February, but I’m quite partial to the documentary of this concert. At first I was drawn to it because I’m a huge fan of George Harrison. But as I watched the special on PBS, I became more and more entranced by the commentary from Eric Clapton and others. You’ll see why:
“All I wanted to do was really share our love for George and his music with the people. I need to do this for him, but it’s for me most of all – I need to be able to express my grief in this sort of way.” – Eric Clapton
How do we memorialize our friends? How do we show the world how much that person meant to us, how much our lives changed for knowing them? There’s more than one way to remember your friends, just as there is more than one way to grieve.
Some people give eulogies. Some people donate money to causes that were important to their friend. Some people have the opportunity to do something a little bigger.
One year after George Harrison died, a group of his friends gathered at The Royal Albert Hall in London for a ‘memorial service’. It was called The Concert for George, an evening to celebrate the music and the life of the “quiet Beatle”.
People came from all parts of his life: his wife and son, the two surviving Beatles, his favorite comedy troupe (Monty Python), musicians he’d played with and admired. They shared his music and entertained an audience not just in attendance that night, but around the world via PBS and a commemorative concert DVD. Their efforts supported the Material World Charitable Foundation, established by Harrison in 1973.
There were no eulogies, in the traditional sense. But as you listen to them talk between songs and during rehearsal you realize the true meaning of that night for his friends: to work through their grief while honoring their friend.
“A lot of our grieving has been dealt with by playing this week,” Clapton said. “This is a blessed occasion for me because I can share my love of George with you…and I think most important of all is that his wife Olivia and his son Dhani can experience and witness how much we loved him, through his music tonight.”
Most of us don’t have the chance to memorialize our friends in this way. But the sentiment Clapton expressed is universal. We want the world to know and love that person who meant so much to us: who they were, why they were important to us, and why the world is a sadder place without them.
And as we close in on Christmas, perhaps now would be a good time to let them our friends - the ones still here - know how much they mean to us.
Singing is optional.