29 November 2012

ALL THINGS MUST PASS: George Harrison (25 Feb '43 - 29 Nov '01)

An excerpt from Here Comes The Sun by Joshua Greene:
In March 2001, doctors at the Mayo Clinic discovered cancer in George's lungs. A growth was removed, but within a month the cancer spread. Soon a malignancy was found on his brain. This, too, he took in stride, knowing that death would mean he had finished his work here and was at last entitled to leave.

"He never sat around moping, 'Oh, I'm ill,'" his son, Dhani later said. "Even when he first found out that he was ill years ago and the doctor gave him - what, six months to live? He was just, like, 'Bollocks!' He was never afraid. He was willing to try and get better, but he didn't care. He wasn't attached to this world in the way most people would be. He was on to bigger and better things. and he had a real total and utter disinterest in worrying and being stressed. My dad had no fear of dying whatsoever. I can't stress that enough, really."

Soon after the diagnosis, George took his family by private jet to Varanasi, India, where he bathed in the Ganges - a traditional practice for one who is preparing to die.

After their return, Olivia tried everything possible to find a cure. While staying near a hospital in Staten Island, New York, George received a few select visitors. Ringo visited and stayed for hours.

George's sister, Louise, arrived. They had not seen one another in several years. Louise had become a grandmother in 1990. Her son had taken up Transcendental Meditation, while she had joined the Self-Realization Fellowship and become a dedicated advocated of environmental awareness. "I believe this is your dharma," George told her. "This is what you have to do." Looking back, she remembered him at that final meeting as kind, loving, and completely fearless in the face of death.

Later, Paul visited the hospital and they told jokes, hugged, and cried. George and Paul had known each other nearly half a century. That last visit was the first time they ever held hands.

(page 268)
It's a bit difficult to grasp that it has been eleven years since George Harrison passed away, but, here we are. Time magazine put George on the cover of the 10 December 2001 issue and it's a time capsule. To get to the article on George I had to flip past articles questioning former Attorney General John Ashcroft's new powers to fight terrorism, articles documenting the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the bloody battles against the Taliban. Remember Enron? They collapsed and officially went bankrupt on 2 December of 2001. There was fascination over the new Segway and praise for the television show JAG.

Of course, for most, the likes of Enron, John Ashcroft, Segways and JAG are easily forgettable while the message and music of George Harrison still endures.

(Honestly, it's not even fair to compare Ashcroft to Harrison, really).

(This demo for "All Things Must Pass" was recorded for the Beatles' Get Back sessions but a complete version was never released until George's first solo record of the same name. I often imagine what Let It Be would sound like with "All Things Must Pass" on the album. If it was included on Let It Be it's would surely have been one of the few songs that actually would have sounded good with the Phil Spector production. Eventually Spector did produce the track and the rest of George's solo debut All Things Must Pass.).

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