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George Harrison's birthday saluted with music video tribute
Rare George Harrison-Bob Dylan Composition Inspires New Cover by Evan Rachel Wood
Recording Benefits Amnesty International - Charity Supported by George Harrison
by Adam Forrest, Beatles News Editor
Today, Saturday February 25th, is the 69th anniversary of the birth of George Harrison. His birthday is saluted this year with the release of a new music video featuring actress/singer Evan Rachel Wood that honors the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization Amnesty International, an organization that George Harrison both supported and inspired.
Evan Rachel Wood has recorded her version of the very rare songwriting collaboration between Harrison and Bob Dylan. The song "I'd Have You Anytime" was written by the duo when Harrison spent Thanksgiving 1968 with Dylan at his Woodstock home. The pair had become friends when Dylan and the Beatles first met in 1964 and their friendship had blossomed over the following years. Their friendship continued for nearly four decades until Harrison's untimely passing in 2001. Harrison placed his own recording of the song as the first track on his first ever solo album, "All Things Must Pass" in 1970. However the song has rarely been covered by other artists.
Evan Rachel Wood's new recording of the song was made for "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International", the new 4-disc CD set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the movement.
Click here to see the "I'd Have You Anytime" video
It is very apt that the new recording benefits Amnesty International because Harrison was a supporter of the organization. His pioneering 1971 charity event the "Concert For Bangladesh" was one of the inspirations for his pals in Monty Python in 1976, when they helped organized the first show in Amnesty International's long-running benefit series of shows, movies and albums, known as the "Secret Policeman's Ball". Harrison attended the first show and donated generously to the organization in subsequent years. (The latest incarnation of the "Secret Policeman's Ball" takes place at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Sunday March 4th - an event that Evan Rachel Wood plans to attend in support of Amnesty.)
The new recording has the blessing of George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrison, and of many of George Harrison's Monty Python pals including Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Neil Innes. Also voicing her support for the recording is Harrison's first wife Pattie Boyd, who accompanied Harrison on his trip to Woodstock in 1968 and who witnessed (and photographed) Harrison and Dylan writing the song.
Commenting on the recording, Boyd said, "I think it is marvelous that George has been saluted in this way. Especially as the new track has been dedicated to George in honor of his support for human rights and the inspiration he gave to Amnesty." (Click here for Pattie Boyd's full statement about the song.)
Evan Rachel Wood's version of "I'd Have You Anytime" has been recorded in the style of the 1930s and 1940s Hoagy Carmichael tunes that George Harrison enjoyed in his childhood. (Harrison expressed his love of that musical era by recording two Carmichael songs for his 1981 album "Somewhere In England").
The recording features a tenor saxophone solo by Harrison's close friend Tom Scott. Other musicians on the track include former Paul McCartney/Wings guitarist Laurence Juber, who worked with Harrison in 1986 on the swing-era music Harrison wrote and recorded for the "Shanghai Surprise" soundtrack; and acclaimed jazz musicians Patrice Rushen (piano), Edwin Livingstone (bass) and Clayton Cameron (brushes). The song was arranged by Emmy-award winning film composer John Altman, who worked on the George Harrison-produced movie "Monty Python's Life Of Brian" (arranging "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life"), was arranger for both of the Rutles albums and was Musical Director for Amnesty's 1981 show "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball".
The audio recording and music video were produced by Martin Lewis, who was co-creator/producer of the "Secret Policeman's Ball" series and who cites Harrison's "Concert For Bangladesh" as a direct inspiration for Amnesty's early benefit shows and his own 36-year history of work for the organization.
Evan Rachel Wood is no stranger to recording Beatles-related songs. She was acclaimed for her singing of Beatles compositions in Julie Taymor's 2007 film "Across The Universe". She was invited to record the song by Martin Lewis. Lewis and Wood first met when Lewis organized the US premiere of "Across The Universe" in Los Angeles, an event that included an after-party at Hollywood's Viper Room where Lewis produced a live performance of several Fab Four tunes by the then just-turned-20 Evan Rachel Wood.
Wood comments, "I loved recording the song and I'm thrilled with how the finished track sounds. Knowing that George Harrison's work as a humanitarian helped inspire some of the fund-raising work for Amnesty International and that this track therefore honors George Harrison as well as Bob Dylan and Amnesty makes this really special for me." (Click here for more of Evan Rachel Wood's thoughts on the new recording.)
Lewis states, "George Harrison completely redefined what charity shows could be for the baby-boomer generation. When we started what became the 'Secret Policeman's Ball' series our template was what George had done with the 'Concert For Bangladesh'. He showed us the way. So recording this song was an opportunity for us to salute and thank George at the same time as we honored Bob Dylan and helped Amnesty. It was a triple whammy. Plus the joy of working with the incredible Evan Rachel Wood."
Click here to see the "I'd Have You Anytime" mini-documentary
Bob Dylan's affection for his friend George Harrison was best expressed in the statement he issued in 2001 at the time of his passing, "He was a giant, a great, great soul, with all of the humanity, all of the wit and humor, all of the wisdom, the spirituality, the common sense of a man and compassion for people. He inspired love and had the strength of a hundred men. He was like the sun, the flowers and the moon, and we will miss him enormously. The world is a profoundly emptier place without him."
George Harrison reflected on his collaboration with Bob Dylan in a 1977 interview in which he said, "I liked that song, 'I'd Have You Anytime' because of Bob Dylan. I was with Bob and he'd gone through his broken neck period and was being very quiet. He hardly said a word for a couple of days. Anyway, we finally got the guitars out and it loosened things up a bit... It was really a nice time with all his kids around, and we were just playing. I was saying to him 'You write incredible lyrics' and he was saying 'How do you write those tunes?'" (Click here for more from George Harrison's 1977 interview.)
Several of George Harrison's pals in Monty Python have offered words of support for this musical tribute to their old friend.
Neil Innes said, "Stunning! 'I'd Have You Anytime' with Evan Rachel Wood is transcendental. I really do love it."
Eric Idle commented, "That's lovely. Very groovy."
Terry Gilliam remarked, "Good idea! George loved Hoagy Carmichael. I kept pushing him to do an album of his renditions of Carmichael songs. Of course he never listened to me. Pity, he could have been famous..."
Amnesty's "Chimes Of Freedom" album is executive-produced by Jeff Ayeroff & Julie Yannatta. Executive Producers for Amnesty are Helen Garrett & Karen Scott. Martin Lewis is Contributing Producer, responsible for the Evan Rachel Wood recording and seven other tracks on the album.
Helen Garrett and Karen Scott of Amnesty International said, "We are thrilled that this wonderful recording and music video by Evan Rachel Wood allows us at Amnesty to salute two music icons at the same time. Bob Dylan's music has been an inspiration to supporters of human rights for 50 years. George Harrison was a pioneer in harnessing entertainment to help humanitarian causes and his work inspired Amnesty."
Evan Rachel Wood's version of "I'd Have You Anytime" is available on the 4-disc CD "Chimes Of Freedom" which features 73 tracks. It is also available by digital download. The bundled digital album features 3 bonus tracks for a total of 76 tracks.
The official music video for "I'd Have You Anytime" may be seen here.
A mini-documentary about the recording may be seen here.
Published February 25, 2012
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