Monday, February 25, 2013

Influences and Inspirations: George Harrison

Feb. 25 - Happy birthday, George Harrison.

George Harrison's career has so many high points, I have two playlists on my iPod for him: Beatles and post-Beatles. Great guitar work abounds at every point. When I was a young guitarist, it was hard rock and intense technique that captured my attention, but as years have gone by, I have developed a much greater appreciation for George's skills, stylistic diversity, his sheer professionalism. I have always admired his ability to express, through music, his honest and humble pursuit of higher meaning and purpose in life. And most of all, I love his dedication to making great songs, and always placing the guitar in service to making every song the best possible piece of music it can be.

Here's a trailer for the fantastic documentary, "Living In The Material World," essential for understanding this deep and complex man:

I always come back to "Something." It is a magnificent song, and the performance and production as heard on the Abbey Road album show the level of absolute mastery the Beatles had achieved at this point, their final album together. The solo epitomizes George's best qualities. Every guitarist who has tried to play it knows that it is tricky, because it is completely devoid of cliches or typical guitar tricks. George's confidence and skill on the guitar allowed him to go past technique to create a gorgeous solo melody of timeless, haunting beauty. A true classic.

His solo catalog is full of songs that are enriched by such great guitar riffs and solos, including some masterful slide work. For example, check out some of my personal favorites: "Here Comes The Moon," Give Me Love," "Blow Away," "My Sweet Lord," and the wonderful "I'd Have You Any Time:"

And that's just from the "post-Beatles" playlist. This is music to return to over and over, because it comes from the heart, and touches the heart.

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