Sunday, February 08, 2004


For Christmas I received a DVD of “The Concert for George”, which was a concert honoring George Harrison. It occurred in November, 2002, and somehow I never got around to buying either the CD or the DVD. Kelly bought it for me, and I need to say BIG thank you to her! We watched it for the first time last night, and it was wonderful! I want to tell you a little about it.

Although I was never a major George fan, I have remained a die-hard Beatles fan for forty years. Tomorrow, February 9, will be the 40th anniversary of their first appearance on Ed Sullivan. Some of you will realize what that means. The world was changed forever on that day…and I do mean the world. Although their impact on music is undeniable and huge, the Beatles changed the way we dressed, the way we looked, and the way we saw the world. As my friend Sherry said the other day, theirs is the only music that can instantly bring a smile to my face, or a tear. No matter how loud the din or soft the music, I can always recognize a Beatles song on the radio, in a passing car, or from a distant window.

For this reason, George Harrison will always hold a special place in my heart. He was the “quiet Beatle”, the baby of the group. When you look at those pictures from the early 60’s, it’s amazing to see how young they all were, but especially George. Barely 21 when they first appeared on Ed Sullivan, he looks so shy and innocent…and so adorably cute. He was one of those spiritual people who managed to be spiritual without being annoyingly in your face about it. He lived a good and simple life, was never very comfortable in the spotlight, and described himself as “just a gardener.”

The DVD of the tribute concert, organized by Eric Clapton, is a two disc set. Disc One contains the complete concert, straight through…about 2 ½ hours. Disc Two contains an edited version of the concert, and bonus material…interviews, rehearsals, and photos. Last night we watched Disc Two first, because I wanted to see as many different things as possible. I love rehearsals and out-takes better than the finished product, and really wanted to see those as well as the concert it self.

Performing at this concert are people whose names are household words among my generation, and in the music world. Clapton, McCartney, Starr, Tom Petty, Jim Keltner, Ray Cooper, Klaus Voorman, Jeff Lynne, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar. What a lineup!

The concert begins with a song that Ravi Shankar composed especially for the occasion. George loved the sitar, and first played it on “Norwegian Wood” with the Beatles. The added benefit of watching Disc Two first was that we learned a little about Eastern music, and the difference between it and Western music. The difficulties of having both cultures perform within the same piece were quite interesting. Violins and cellos, as well as guitars played along with the traditional Eastern instruments such as the sitar…I have no idea what any of the other instruments are called. Luckily for me, I LOVE sitar music. The odd rhythms and strange sounds are hypnotic and beautiful. This piece was a perfect melding of the two cultures.

Part Two of the concert began with Monty Python. I LOVE Monty Python, especially Eric Idle. Their weird, warped, and very British sense of humor is just my cup of tea. Their first song, “(Sit on my face and) Tell Me That You Love Me” is Python at its best…until the end, when it gets even better! And then they perform “The Lumberjack Song”… I had no idea how much I missed Monty Python until now!

After that, I think all the songs are “George” songs, with the exception of “Honey Don’t” by Carl Perkins. “Taxman”, “If I Needed Someone”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something” are some of his earlier, songs. Each brought back special memories for me, and each artist seemed to have a very personal connection to the song. In the interviews, the artists all talked about wanting to honor George, and how important it was to make each song special. I think they succeeded.

I think the most amazing song of the show was “Isn’t It a Pity”…it was just a very emotional and touching rendition, yet full of energy and life. Jules Holland did a fantastic job with “Horse to the Water”, and Paul’s version of “Something” on the ukulele was quite touching, and his emotions were very much on his sleeve.

As an added bonus to this great lineup of talent, George’s son Dhani also plays guitar throughout the concert, and his resemblance to his dad is amazing. He has the same shy look that George had on the Ed Sullivan Show that first time. Disc Two features several comments by Dhani, and he seems to be an intelligent, talented man. I started to say “boy”, but I think that would be unfair to Dhani…he’s only a “boy” because I’m old enough to be his mother!

Art and I were both just blown away by this concert. Maybe the energy and love that went into it had something to do with it, but for whatever reason, this is just one great concert. If you don’t know much about George Harrison, this concert would be the perfect introduction. And if you’re already familiar with George’s work, and maybe haven’t listened to his stuff for a while, I highly recommend this concert for you too…my guess is that you’ll have your old Beatles or Harrison albums back out of retirement in no time!


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