Harrison, (In)Complete Circle of Life

by Alberto D. Prieto

George Harrison, undoubtedly, belongs to the immaterial world of the soul. It is impossible that during his presence of 58 years as a mortal being—the way “we” mere mortals knew him—was his purest state of being. At the very least, it could not have been for him because he never reached the level of perfection he constantly sought. Or at least that is what he always thought. Or showed us. Harrison was always unsatisfied, his Beatle persona—a bit of a loner and a consummate perfectionist, yet someone who held the secret to creating some of the most perfect rock melodies—not to mention, was the preferred companion to many aspiring stars of the star system, who with him or with him as -human, musical or both-lever reached the nirvana of the covers, the groupies and the money.    

Bearing that in mind, George Harrison—a loner yet never a soloist—lived in a state of constant contradiction between what he felt and what he made us feel. Internally, he knew—whether this is inaccurate or not, only the gods may know—that he was imperfect, incomplete. A melancholic Harrison asked for love and peace on earth, in his songs: divine principles that closed his circle. Outwardly, each foray into song writing Harrison came up with always had an unmistakable stamp; be it poppy, rock, bluesy or incomprehensible, he never betrayed himself, nor the six strings of his Gretsch—or the 26 strings of his sitar
they all formed part of his eternal sound staff that drew full circle, each providing a new, slight tweak to his soul.

, George. Beatle, friend. Betrayed, womanizer unlikely. Biased smile; depth look. If his guitar weeped, his voice moaned and if not, the opposite. Even on good days, he lacked the arms to calm all the arpeggios and fine tune them in to chords.

To inherit a famous surname can open and shut doors for you, just like how being a beatle can introduce you to glory Olympus but obscures you as an individual. Even as a musician. Added to all that immense luck dodging, George Harrison added a truly persistent effort to be who he was: a guy who hid his vital need to support his heart whilst amongst the company of others under the guise of a mystical aesthetic lonely soul in front of open doors. Crossing Harrison’s threshold was a risk that not even he himself ever committed. Until he finally gave in, delving into his inner riffs and released the hidden musician in him, full of inventive harmonies, which oozed creativity and exuded truth from every pore of his guitars. Six, twelve chords—or the 18 or 26 of the sitar—acoustic in the demos, electric in the studio and eclectic in his adventures, there is no better love song toward a woman than 'While my Guitar Gently Weeps' and there exists no better version, honestly, than the one he recorded himself, sat against the hard floor of his mansion in Friar Park, no matter how much it was later “perfected “ by his great companions and Clapton sublimated in its final commercial form. Perhaps because by then his alleged bosom buddy had already begun to his plan to snatch the beautiful Patty Boid and the song is a pledge to leave in his selfish slow-hand the exchange of partners.

Hidden behind those beautiful tremolos and bridges of the enormous headstocks of his old Gretsch Guitars from the 50’s from Rickenbacker ‑which was brought to him custom-made-, taking advantage of their beautiful pickguards to release his anxiety, Harrison thought of the ostracism that McCartney and Lennon only further exasperated, learning to show only the most sophisticated splinters of his constant inconstancy. With his shifty eyes, he channelled the styling of Chuck Berry and his Gibson ES355 and from the Epiphone of Chet Atkins his technique, the experimentation of Townshend and his Les Paul, from Clapton and his Strat came the anxiety of glory and deepness from the Martin Dreadnought of Dylan... and yet at the same time, he drew inspiration from none. Perhaps it was due to the hindu influence in his life, since he had been visiting India since 1965, or perhaps his interest in the integration of symphonic harmonies and echo and, without a doubt, there was another key ingredient: the perfect blending of his voice with the sound that drew from his guitars plugged into his Vox... all of this, whatever the reasons, created not only a unique style; rather unparalleled and impossible to recreate, present in every beat and measure that left a lasting mark on the Beatles or himself in his later career.

Still with the warm dead body of his beatle persona, All things must pass (1970) is a smooth orgy of ukuleles, wah-wahs and wailing guitars, an emotional outburst of a melancholy spiral, absolutely proud. Creative.
A double album, which shows the errors of the ways of the dancing couple who led the fab four for maintaining, in order to further their own glory, this pearl of compositional artistry in an unjust and counterproductive ostracism. Harrison bore his best work up until the very last moment—providing all the parts of a possible pregnancy just before the divorce of the most famous band of all time—perfectly capable of completing one of the best albums of the Beatles. Gems such as Isn't it a Pity or Art of Dying showed that to release the accumulation of genius from years ago of little affection—all he needed was a little caress. And with the first triple LP in the history of rock to reach Number One on the American and British charts before any of his three former band mates, it showed what he already suspected of himself: complete with Phil Spector, Klaus Voormann or Bob Dylan, in accompaniment, his incompleteness could turn into a compositional capacity comparable to the best accompaniment.

Almost always, George used to buy guitars like the ones Lennon previously owned. Once he began his solo career, the multidisciplinary artist (musician, producer, instrumentalist, film promoter) and multifaceted man (religious, benefactor, businessman, drug addict) gave flight to new interests, and each step drew him away from any interest for show business; his records included more experimentation and musically, less concessions to commercial. Of course, his vast wealth and recurring royalties allowed this timeless journey into the depths of his soul and
only occasionally would some project drew him for a little while from his chosen melodic melancholy that became his rain hat to wear during his rainy life.

In fact, back in the year ‘82 when he joined some friends for a party in the studio to work on a fresh and fun new album, the carrier pigeon of the charts brought him a message, reminding him that this was out of his character. The album Gone Troppo, which arrived on the scene only a year after the rather successful Somewhere in England only cracked the American charts at 108 and didn’t even make it to the English charts. Amongst other vinyl joke tracks of great merit include I Really Love You, (self)
hidden tributes such as Mystical one and glorious ones such as Circles... purely White Album.

Hereinafter the worshiper of the ukulele, sitar and Krishna withdrew from the music scene and only visited for pleasure. Throughout his musical life, George Harrison understood the need to be supplemented with four arms and four heads Vishnu,
creator of the world and first on the path of reincarnation towards perfection, and his forays between cables and guitars were limited to ponder the significance of the past with the 'Fab Four' on several tracks of Cloud nine, his last successful album, or begun to work alongside four other friends: Tom Petty, Jeff Lyne, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison in the unfinished project known as the Travelling Willburys.

There remains the consolation of thinking that despite what he always felt, his death in 2001 was the death of a complete human being in his ultimate state of being... Yet we bore witness to 58 years of a legacy of perfection from which to draw lessons. The irresistible attraction of his virtue deifying the guitar, which completed such great genius, suggests so. However, only the gods know.