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Today is a special anniversary in the rock and roll world. George Harrision would have turned 65 on February 25 2008. Although he has been dead for almost 7 years now, I find his music to be just as powerful as always and thought that it would be worth commemorating George's birthday.
Although I'm a fan of the Beatles as a whole, when I look at some of my favorite songs by them, many were written by George Harrision. "I Need You" is something of an early (relatively speaking) George standout, with only more good things to come. "Think for Yourself", "If I Needed Someone" and of course "Taxman" are great songs as well, but I think it's more of the eastern infused moments of the Beatles that Harrision is most identifiable with. "Within You Without You" may be his only track from a certain legendary album, but it's in a style that is so unique and removed from more traditional rock and roll, that it easily stands outs as a highlight. I'm also a fan of songs like "Blue jay Way", "It's Only a Northern Song" and "It's all Too Much", the last of which is a killer rock track with some great howling guitar feedback to open it.
Although I don't know if he was the one responsible for said feedback, I do think that George's guitar work with the Beatles is often overlooked. Early on in there career he easily busted out tight, driving rock and roll leads and it continued through right to the end as he continued to deliver unique, although subtle guitar mastery. "Nowhere Man" and "Let it Be" have two of my favorite Harrision lead guitar parts. There's a certain subtlety to his playing that not many other players even come close to. The parts are complex melodically, yet are performed effortlessly and restrained, adding just that extra color to the song that takes it from just great songwriting into the realm of amazing rock and roll composition. He may not have taken the massive high speed soloing approach, but I'm a big fan of George Harrision as a guitarist and feel that there's a lot to learn from his style and technique.
By the end of the Beatles time together, not only was George's guitar work great, but his songwriting is fantastic. I don't think that anyone can argue about the quality of tracks like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun". They're just timeless classics that will remain as such for years and years.
George Harrision was in the Beatles... that's true, but just like John, Paul and Ringo he also had a solo career. Compared to Lennon and McCartney though, Harrision's solo work is often overlooked with is a shame because All Things Must Pass is a fantastic album and one of my personal favorites. For an album that is actually pretty pop oriented, there's an earthiness to it that is hard to describe. The songs are authentic and grounded, but also slightly dreamy and philosophical without being melodramatic or losing that earthy realism. If you've never really listened to George's solo work, then this is the place to start. It's just a classic, timeless album that unfortunately is a bit overlooked by some of the rock and roll masses.
With this passing of what would have been his 65 birthday, I'd like to think of this as just a little tribute to George. I think I'll continue commemorating this even by spending some time listening to All Things Must Pass and more than a few of my favorite Harrision Beatles tracks. Take some time and do the same because whether best remembered for his time in the Beatles, his solo work or just the complete picture, the world is certainly a sadder place with out George Harrision.