Saturday, January 2, 2010

George Harrison--"What is Life?"

From the 1970 album, "All Things Must Pass". This is my favorite of George Harrison's hit singles. It peak at Number Ten on the Billboard Top 100 list in Feburary of 1971.

This most spiritual of The Beatles proves here he can do a catchy little pop tune with the best of them I think .

I think the videoographer did a good job here with the images--although a few more from the post-Beatles period of a more mature Harrison would have been nice.


  1. Thanks for this choice of George Harrison track Doug. All Things Must Pass is an album I remember quite well, but not one I have ever owned myself.
    The break-up of the Beatles left a bit of a bad taste and amongst some people a taking of sides I think.
    I guess the winner of this post-split competition was John Lennon, with Paul McCartney and Wings as the runners up, but George was somehow immune from the backbiting.
    My Sweet Lord topped the UK charts (and Billboard Hot 100 I think) in October 1970 and Harrison established himself as an ex-Beatle pretty much without blame. This single followed the year after but was never going to be the hit that My Sweet Lord had been. Releasing a track from a popular album may have been a mistake, it felt a bit like a single for a single's sake I think.
    George Harrison seems to have done best when he was singing the Hare Krsna mantra and was clearly identifiable as the transcendental Beatle.
    The chemistry of the Beatles was never really realised in any of their solo offerings, not even 'Imagine' in my opinion and although this is a perfectly inoffensive pop song by the time of its release the magic was already evaporating. or so it seems to me.

    Thanks for reminding me of this song Doug, which in turn reminds me of Bob Dylan's 'If Not For You' era and a watershed in music that made the hipsters of the 1960s into the middle of the road performers of the later 1970s, already relegated by David Bowie and Lou Reed, who displaced them in the new decade as the icons of cool.

  2. You have a good memory for hit singles, AA--this was indeed the song that followed the seminal "My Sweet Lord" ,where "Hare Krishna" morphs in the chorus from Hallaluah. Harrioson was indeed ' a Beatle without blame', which broke along the lines of those who favored the daring Mr. Lennon versus the more driven to please Mr. McCartney. Doubtful had John lived he would have accepted a knighthood I think.

    I have a non-musical fondness for Harrison as a co-producer of the first two indepenant Monty Python films "The Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian" The latter film seemed to upset many fundmentalist Christians in America and the old school "C of E" types like Malcom Muggeridge over in England. At the time, being agnostic, I had no dog in the fight but found both films wickedly funny (one of my favorite bits is currently on my home page) , with perhaps more laughs in the Round Table effort and more to think about in "Brian".

    No one I agree really could bring the Beatles sound with them when they went--it was an amazing pairing of two extrordinary composers and four performers who broke through in America just when they were needed most. By the parade was past by this point, as the title of the Harrison album alludes to. I just wonder if he realized how much really has passed at that moment, not just with his old band but with the zeitgeist as a whole.