Seeking George Harrison For the End of the World

Posted: October 3, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
Tags: ,

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1987. A library or parlor with a fireplace and burgundy leather furniture. A man sits in a chair, facing us and strumming a Fender guitar. Then a bunch of fucking taxidermied (?) animals start singing along. This is how I am introduced to George Harrison of the Beatles and, eventually, my favorite Beatle.

All Things Must Pass isn’t George’s first solo album, just the first one that wasn’t a turd. Three discs and six sides that really should have been reduced to two and four, respectively. All the weird jams that fill out the rest of the opus are out-of-place and self-indulgent. Without those mucking up the works, this album would be perfect. This is the record (s) that I look to when life just feels like too much. It’s hardly a pick-me-up. The happy music is played somberly. The sad songs played merrily. The album begins with the George-Bob Dylan collaboration, “I’d Have You Anytime”. The singer implores another to let him in after he lies naked (likely just emotionally, anything other than that and the connotations get quite a bit stranger). A bit of whenever you’re ready, I’ll be here waiting. It’s actually kind of pathetic. I relate perfectly.

“My Sweet Lord” for all its multi-religious themes, is actually a very pretty song that I don’t relate to at all, not a fig. “Isn’t It a Pity”, a reflection on how people hurt each other in relationships. Check. “What is life without your love?” Christ, George. Do you want me to yank my heart from my chest all Temple of Doom style? Then comes another Dylan song basically saying that if not for this love of his life, he’d barely have the motivation or wherewithal to lie in bed and eat a Swanson frozen dinner. Skipping ahead, George warns us to “Beware of Darkness”. Well, too late for that, sir. You’ve been leading me up and down on this roller coaster of emotion and I’ve strapped in, gritting my teeth, waiting to go through the inevitable yet nonsensical dark tunnel. This is just a beautiful feat in rock music.

As for how I came to own four sides of amazeballs and two sides of steaming broccoli farts, I needed only to look to local used book, movie, and music store Frugal Muse. I have made some phenomenal vinyl finds at this place. It’s the only part of the store that the pricing is appreciably better than other stores of its ilk. This may be my very best day of discovery ever. For under ten dollars, I managed to find all three discs of All Things Must Pass in excellent condition. The outer case was a little beat but the records themselves looked like they had never been played. But that was just $7 of my total. I also managed to acquire Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for less than $3.

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This is convenient in other ways as it is also a go-to album for when you just don’t care anymore. Infamously recorded when the two couples in the band were disintegrated, the tension resulting in one of the most complete albums of all time. It’s also one big fat depress-fest. Flat out dripping with hits, Rumours doesn’t have a single hiccup. There are just songs I don’t love as much. All three of Lindsey Buckingham’s songs are amazing. Stevie Nicks offers the haunting “Gold Dust Woman” and throws her former beau Buckingham a figurative bone in the duet “I Don’t Want To Know”. The only two songs I don’t feel the need to listen to are Nicks’s every time it rains “Dreams” and Christine McVie’s “Oh Daddy”. McVie may own the most dreary moment on the album with “Songbird”. She wants her husband (likely, anyway) to know that she still loves him but he clearly doesn’t give a shit anymore. I don’t know what she’s talking about. John McVie is as close to Eeyore as anyone has ever been in rock and roll.

If nuclear holocaust was inevitable and I could only bring two albums into the bomb shelter, these are the two I’d choose. It’s not because they’re my favorite albums, though they are among the list. If they are not #’s 1 and 2, then why on Earth would I turn to these soundtracks of sad sackism? It’s not because it would be funny to imagine the human race burned to ash while “Don’t Stop” plays. Though, it kind of is. And it isn’t reserved to just threat of the atomization of the world as I know it.

It’s about being without hope. Sometimes, that feeling is fleeting. Sometimes, it isn’t. Sometimes, it’s earned, others not. No matter the circumstances or causes, sometimes you just don’t want to feel better. There are bruises that mom just can’t kiss. There’s no magic elixir that can cure pure and unadulterated despair. Sometimes, you just want to chase the sorrow all the way down to see how far it goes. You’re not looking to defeat it. You want to crawl inside yourself and not come out. You know that “All Things Must Pass” but you’re just not ready to watch them go. You know that albums like these aren’t going to ease your pain, but it’s nice to have them with you because you know that these musicians have felt it too. It might be cold comfort but it’s comfort nonetheless.

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