Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

25Feb/1131

Remembering George Harrison

I spent quite a few random nights last year driving around listening to Live in Japan by George Harrison. The album itself has been in my collection in one form or another for years, but I don't think I ever really appreciated what a good collection of George's music it was until after that initial listen last year. Although it had been quite a while since I'd listened to it, I knew that I'd be listening to it a lot in the days to come. It was a celebratory return to the road for Harrison after a disastrous 1974 run that caused him to avoid touring again for nearly two decades.

After the release of the second Traveling Wilburys album, his longtime friend Eric Clapton would persuade him to tour once again, providing a band, companionship and support for the brief set of Japanese dates that would end up as his last tour. At the time, Live in Japan was a recording of a tour that I hadn't had the chance to see and perhaps if I was lucky, I'd eventually have the opportunity. But in the end, it became a historical treasure for an artist that didn't flood the world with an overload of endless live albums that one might take for granted. With only one official live release prior, Live in Japan is a priceless document of Harrison's later years. It exposes also how understated both Harrison and Clapton can be as players, communicating so effectively and yet very deliberately with only a few notes necessary to create many of the goosebump moments that occur throughout the show.

Whether it's revisiting a musical moment like this or discovering a random contribution such as his guitar solo on "Leave A Light On" by Belinda Carlisle, Harrison's talents continue to make an impact on me as a music fan. I don't think I'm alone in saying that Harrison's love for the ukelele made me want to learn how to play one the first time I heard him play. Watching all of his musical friends pay tribute to his legacy during the Concert for George event left no questions as to how big of an impact he'd made on the world as an artist.

Music fans worldwide can celebrate Harrison's birthday today by watching Concert For George, which is streaming for free for 24 hours today at GeorgeHarrison.com, an event that will be followed by the release of the film on Blu-ray and digital download for the first time ever on March 22nd.  Clapton served as the musical director for the tribute to his old friend while another longtime comrade and bandmate, Jeff Lynne, handled audio production duties for the release.

One of my favorite moments of the night was the version of "Handle with Care" by fellow Wilbury Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which brought things full circle for me, since it was one of the early Harrison-related songs that I loved as a music fan and one of my favorite music videos (remember when they played music videos?). Just in case you arrived after the period of music video's golden age, I'll embed it below for your viewing pleasure. If you've seen Tom do this one live, I think you'll agree that he does justice to all of the departed Wilbury members with his version.

Here's the track listing for the concert - head over to GeorgeHarrison.com to watch it now!

1. Your Eyes - Anoushka Shankar
2. The Inner Light - Jeff Lynne & Anoushka Shankar
3. Arpan - Conducted by Anoushka Shankar
4. Sit On My Face – Monty Python
5. The Lumberjack Song – Monty Python with Tom Hanks
6. I Want To Tell You - Jeff Lynne
7. If I Needed Someone - Eric Clapton
8. Old Brown Shoe - Gary Brooker
9. Give Me Love - Jeff Lynne
10. Beware Of Darkness - Eric Clapton
11. Here Comes The Sun - Joe Brown
12. That’s The Way It Goes - Joe Brown
13. Horse To The Water – Sam Brown
14. Taxman - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
15. I Need You - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
16. Handle With Care - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Jeff Lynne & Dhani Harrison
17. Isn’t It A Pity - Billy Preston
18. Photograph - Ringo Starr
19. Honey Don’t - Ringo Starr
20. For You Blue - Paul McCartney
21. Something - Paul McCartney & Eric Clapton
22. All Things Must Pass - Paul McCartney
23. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Paul McCartney & Eric Clapton
24. My Sweet Lord - Billy Preston
25. Wah Wah - Eric Clapton & Band
26. I’ll See You In My Dreams - Joe Brown

  • http://www.kenshane.com kshane

    There is video from the Japan tour on YouTube. It appears to be pro-shot, which means there must have been an official release. I’d love to get my hands on that.

    Actually now that I look closer, what I’m seeing is a band with George playing live but it doesn’t match the recorded track, and it’s not Clapton on guitar. So now I’m wondering if the Japan tour was filmed.

  • Matt

    Ken, I’m guessing, but I would imagine that they might have filmed something. There are certainly some full show bootlegs circulating on video, audience filmed stuff. I do remember seeing stuff from that on Youtube, so it’s out there.

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  • http://twitter.com/MattSpringer Matt Springer

    Great piece. I listened/half-watched the Concert for George this morning as I worked. Amazing stuff, especially the last half-hour or so as the band really comes together. Billy Preston, RIP, and of course George Harrison as well.

  • Matt

    Billy Preston is next on my list of artists to dig deeper on. I’ve really
    been enjoying the new reissue of his album 16 Year Old Soul….

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.porter.la Ann Porter

    Sorry I didn’t see this the day you posted it (I’ve not been reading my RSS feed.) I pulled out my CD of The Traveling Wilburys (vol. 1) earlier this week for the drive to work while I’m out of town, and it’s been a fun re-listen.

  • Matt

    Vol. 1 is always a great listen :-)

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