George Harrison - by Mike Macchi
I was born in 1965, the same year The Grateful Dead was born and the year that the songs that would land on the Beatles' landmark album "Rubber Soul" were probably starting to gel in the minds of the newly turned-on Fab Four. I grew up about as big of a Beatle fan as anyone ever could meet, especially when one considers that I was not even five years old when the band reached the end of their long and winding road.
When George Harrison passed away a couple of weeks ago I felt almost the since of loss I felt when Jerry and John Lennon died in that I felt that I lost a personal friend that played a huge role in my life, literally helping to shape my way of looking at the world. I have a couple of thoughts on George that my fellow Dead Heads might like to chew on......
First of all, keep in mind that on their last two tours, the Grateful Dead pulled out two relatively obscure Beatle tunes to cover: 'I Want To Tell You' off of 1966's REVOLVER and 'It's All too Much' originally recorded in 1967 for the soundtrack of YELLOW SUBMARINE.....for those of you who were not aware, despite the intimidating catalogue by John and Paul, our heroes chose two songs by the so-called 'quiet' Beatle to play: both of the songs mentioned are Harrison compositions.
Any Dead Head who has never had the pleasure of listening to Harrison's solo masterpiece "All Things Must Pass" should do themselves a favor and invest in it (hard to find, perhaps available on Amazon). "Isn't It A Pity", "My Sweet Lord" (which I had played at my wedding ceremony last year) and "Beware of Darkeness" are just three nuggets on that album. I always wonder how the Dead were perceived by many in the music world. It saddens me to think of how- just maybe- his shared love of Elvis, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly might have led to John Lennon attending a MSG Dead show after 1980 as he started to come out of his self-imposed retirement....maybe even joining them on stage? Sigh.....in another universe, perhaps.
I like to think of the links that Harrison had to the Dead world: his friendship with both Bob Dylan and Tom Petty must have exposed Harrison to some stories of our band's exploits/musicality since both toured with the boys. Also, it was Owsley's recipes that first turned on the Beatles in England in 1965.......talk about a connection. Kesey and his band of Pranksters were at the Beatle's Cow Palace show when Bobby first "got on the bus". Lots of syncronicity and examples of the boundaries of the Dead's world going across the universe of the Beatles. I just wonder if Gearge ever listened to "American Beauty" or "Workingman's Dead" since he was such a huge fan of The Band's first two albums that came out of the Woodstock scene and captured American roots music so well like Beauty and Workingman's did. I hope that someone was able to play for George some of the Dead's live music, but with his ambivalence to music in general after the early seventies maybe not.
If I am not misteaken (does anyone remember?) the Dead may have even played The Traveling Wilburies album on set breaks or at show's end in the early 1990's...faint recollections of this, but my memory is a little foggy when trying to recall (I wonder why?).
Anyway, Harrison's impact was great. I love all of his Beatle songs, but especially ones like "Love you Too", Within you Without You", "Long Long Long", "The Inner Light" and others that showed his love for Indian music. He profoundly changed Western culture in ripples that can never be measured. He was a reluctant celebrity and gave so much to us all. Rest in Peace, George, and thank you. Mike Macchi, Guilderland, NY - firstname.lastname@example.org