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Review: George Harrison Living in the Material World

by Catherine F. Chavez-Alexander

George Harrison - Living in the Material World is a film by Martin Scorsese. It takes you on a musical and spiritual journey of one of the music world's most mysterious and fascinating personalities. When most people think of The Beatles they refer to George as "the quiet one". He was much more than that.

Part One of the documentary is a colorful romp that includes George's humble beginnings in post World War II England, a detailed account of how he auditioned for John Lennon and Paul McCartney on a late-night double decker bus in Liverpool, and how he grew up and helped form the most popular and influential pop group in history.

Early and full-blown Beatlemania is showcased here and we also catch glimpses of George's budding talents as a songwriter. In his own words he says, "Maybe someday I'd write something good". As the popularity of The Beatles grew and they had attained many material things and the admiration of most of the world, George was not satisfied, he wanted more.

George Harrison and Ravi Shankar in India

In 1966 his life was changed forever upon meeting Indian virtuoso musician and Sitar Hero, Ravi Shankar. Through this meeting, an exciting new world opened up for George. Not only did he eagerly commence studying and playing Indian music but he also embraced Indian spirituality-a decision that heavily influenced his songwriting and his way of living.

Part Two of the film begins with the events that would eventually lead to the breakup of The Beatles. George composes the magnificent song "Something," which, according to Frank Sinatra, is considered one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.

Once George is finally freed from the obligations of The Beatles, he became immersed in recording his backlog of songs and at the same time was also helping out his Krishna devotee friends set up a temple in London. The backlog of songs turned into his epic first solo album, "All Things Must Pass". His spirituality was also guiding him along as he states, "...the whole thing is to change, to try to make everything better and better and that is what the physical world is about, change."

He made change happen. Upon hearing from Ravi about a war that broke out between East and West Pakistan that directly affected Ravi's family (and many innocent people), George decided to do something about it. What he did was put together the first charity concert -- The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.

George Harrison and Bob Dylan at the Concert for Bangladesh

Besides the great music there are many interviews from people who worked with and inspired George, including: Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python), and Jeff Lynne, just to name a few.

I would recommend this movie for any Beatles or George Harrison fan, however, I do not recommend this for the younger viewers.

As George told Tom Petty wen one of his friends, music legend Roy Orbison passed away, "He's still around...just listen."

I'm listening, George!

Published December 4, 2012

This article is Copyright © 2012, Catherine F. Chavez-Alexander, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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