"All things must pass...all things must pass away." -- George Harrison
I just finished watching part one of Martin Scorsese's documentary on George Harrison, Living In The Material World. I fell willingly and lovingly down the looking glass hole of his journey, maybe it's because my life parallels that journey in that I was born in 1956 and carry a lot of the moments in the documentary in my own mind. I have a huge picture in my living room of me, at around eight years old, meeting the Beatles. It was a private garden party that Capital Records put together, and since my dad, Stan Freberg, was on Capital Records at the time, there we were. I laugh whenever I look at the picture because what I remember most about it, besides meeting these boys I was crazy about, was that I kept trying to lose my dad. He cramped my eight-year-old style.
God they are witty, and George that much more so. Just every now and then, quietly, always leaving you wanting more. They are so English, and such incredibly stylish lads. It was, and will always be, a certain kind of unexplainable magic. And watching them, and learning a little bit more about George, was a marvelous magical mystery tour filled with music that I still know every word of. One of the first lines of a song of George's, a song I had never heard, was "It's funny how people just won't accept change..." and I thought to myself, hmmm, he was scratching the surface of the deeper things even when he was still in his teens. I don't think I've ever seen so many interviews with George before, I found his thoughtfulness intriguing. He was making an observance about John Lennon and he said, "John had a lot of power... sometimes, you know, they pick somebody to march behind on the way to war -- well, he was certainly out front." It was a great way to describe a particular kind of charisma and the power that goes with it.
There was a lot of discussing their ways of recording their shared music, and suddenly it cuts to Studio A of Capital Records. I knew it was Studio A because I spent a great deal of my young childhood sleeping on the couches there while my mom and dad worked into the wee hours of the night on the satirical records my father made in that very studio. I recognized every part of that room and control room. History can be quite strange. One of my favorite lines so far came from a story George Martin was telling about calling the boys into the control room to hear what he'd been working on, and asking them to tell him if there was anything they didn't like. And George is the only one who spoke up... "Well, I don't like your tie for a start."
Toward the end of Part One, it got into George's particular attraction to a spiritual journey. He said more than once that they had fame and money and it made it clear there was something more important, something deeper, to search for, to make sense of life. It was so clear watching the trajectory of their lives that after that kind of madness and heat and power, all that was left, was God. Or some version thereof, some kind of spiritual depth and meaning. George puts it this way, "it's a big change in your life when you start making the journey inward." Pattie Boyd said about George, "He was always looking for truth and he was always looking for peace of mind." I have to say, I think he was on to something.