George Harrison, life, music

forty-nine years ago

George Harrison is a special soul.

Forty-nine years ago, August 1, 1971. The Concert for Bangladesh. In reality, two concerts. Performed to raise awareness, and funds for relief, of refugees caught up in the war in Bangladesh.

Earlier that year, Ravi Shankar, an Indian musician and friend to George, told him about the desperation in Bangladesh and asked George to help. The short of it is George said okay. A couple of months went by without a real plan, but another five or six weeks and George pulled together his friends, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ringo Star, and the band Badfinger, and Ravi Shankar recruited another Indian musician, Ali Akbar Khan, and they all performed at Madison Square Garden on the first day of August.

The back story covers a lot of musical history, and intersects the lives of some well-known and talented people. In 1961, George was 18 and performing in Germany with an early pre-Ringo version of The Beatles. Fast forward ten years, the musical group called The Beatles exploded into THE BEATLES and took over the world, until the individual Beatles went their separate ways in 1970. George was more and more interested in spirituality and eastern philosophies and music traditions, and was evolving musically to bring these influences into his craft. By 1971, he had his own solo albums and was producing the soundtrack for Raga, a documentary film on Shankar. Nevertheless, he hadn’t performed on stage as a solo act yet.

That summer, George was 28 and organizing in my memory one of the first big, really big, aid concerts in modern history. Dealing with the venue, performers, filming, recordings, the tax man, and everything else that’s involved in planning an event like this, with the goal (and determination) to get the money to where it was needed, in Bangladesh, and not everywhere in between.

So. Picture this. The end of the concert. George at the microphone. The master of ceremonies. The other performers were done. Clapton was dealing with some serious addiction issues and barely made it through his bit with George. And George didn’t know at this point if Dylan would perform. The day before, Dylan told George he was too nervous. About the crowd. For every one of us who’s stumbled over our own words because looking out at faces brings on brain freeze, there’s the idea of a nervous Bob Dylan. Are we all human or what? Bob Dylan, yes THE Bob Dylan, was nervous about the crowd and not sure he could perform. Whatever was happening in his life, he hadn’t really performed in concert for a number of years, and wasn’t sure he could do it. Why does this awkward little detail appeal to me?  

George looked around the darkened stage, bright lights in his eyes, to see if the big act would come out and sing.

And yes, Bob Dylan was the big act. There was in fact a question mark next to his name on the concert playlist. What was George thinking during that flash of a minute? It must have been something like, “Oh shit, what am I doing here?” I haven’t seen that quote, but what else would be going through his head?

Then, yes … there he was. Bob Dylan. To paraphrase George’s description, his denim jacket, his harmonica, and his guitar. Dylan looked young and uncomfortable, but the music started. It was A Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall, and he knew his song well.

Forty-nine years ago.

___________________________
Images from:
the fest for beatles fans
snf your beatles station

catch the wind, music, summer rain

when rain has hung the leaves with tears

When rain has
hung the leaves with tears,
I want you near
to kill my fears,
to help me to leave all my blues behind
.
For standin’
in your heart is where
I want to be
and long to be.
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the win
d

~ Catch the Wind, Donovan ~

photographed june 20, 2020

music, nature, plants, sounds

evening

It looks like these trees and this brush are endless. Sometimes I feel that way too. But they’re not.

I was hunched over, trying to get a picture of the flowers and the green and a bit of the sunlight still coming through. It was getting close to eight, and there was a towhee doing what towhees always do at sundown. It was ‘drink your tea’ time. They sing those notes over and over, part of the evening ritual.

But this time there was music too. Human type music. Past all the green, up a hill, there was a house and the glow of flames in a fire pit, and somebody was out back. None of my business, but how could I not notice? He was playing folksy music, and it sounded so good I wanted to yell, “Hey, what’s that you’re playing?” Of course I didn’t. I thought it was somebody sitting by the firepit playing a guitar or banjo, and singing one of those folk songs that feel like springtime, and good times, and flowers in a field. Eventually I realized the music was too good, it must have been a recording.

I didn’t want to move on, but I started walking slowly along the path, around a bend, and the music playing behind me faded in the distance, past the trees.

Photographed May 29, 2020

Gershwin, jazz, music, summertime

summertime


Summertime, the song.

And Janis Joplin. Yes, in the crazy summer of 2020, it has to be Janis Joplin. It’s an old (1934) Gershwin song, covered over and over, so there are lots of versions out there. I don’t know if it’s technically the blues, but when Janis sings it, I think it’s the blues. She opens her mouth, and she holds nothing back. There’s sorrow and there’s anguish, and there’s no attempt to pretty it up.

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t single out Ella Fitzgerald’s version too. It’s subdued, it’s fluid, it’s definitely jazz. You can feel the heat of a sweltering August night when the windows are open and the air is still. And Ella’s voice is soft and silky and soothing in all the ways Janis’s is ragged and desperate. Despite my opening, I suspect Ella Fitzgerald captures the mood as well as anyone can. It just might make you cry.

Summertime by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyword, and Ira Gershwin. Give it a a try.

life, music, Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?

music and first three verses by Pete Seger [1955]
last three verses added by Joe Hickerson [1960]

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for young men everyone.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time a go?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

life, music, prince

a bit too leasurely

First….

Picture Prince. 

His blue suit with white clouds all over it, the impish grin, his big brown eyes drawing you in….

Okay?
Ready?

One,
Two,
One, two, three, four.

I was working part time in a five-and-dime.
My boss was Mr. McGee.
He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind
‘Cause I was a bit too leisurely.

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before

That’s when I saw her, ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For all the Purple Rain people.

[lyrics from Prince’s Raspberry Beret]