The “quiet” Beatle…the one who just wanted to play his guitar…the one who was not given too many chances to place his songs on Beatles albums…but the one who later surfaced and during his solo career surpassed the others…George, the mystical one, the one who from the beginning said “Don’t Bother Me”…
George Harrison was born in Liverpool, England on the 25th of February, 1943. He wrote “Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth” between 1971 and 1972. The song was released in 1973 and it reached number one, displacing Paul McCartney’s “My Love”. It was included in the album Living in the Material World.
I always loved this song. I thought of it as a prayer that followed, logically and spiritually, the call to God in “My Sweet Lord“. And although I remember buying the album All Things Must Pass and really getting into it, of course, while still in High School, when Living in the Material World came out I really knew George was the best. All Things Must Pass is highly orchestrated and arranged…produced in part by Phil Spector with his wall of sound…but Living in the Material World is more folkish, less instruments, more slide guitar and that’s more my style. For this album George used musicians Gary Wright, Klaus Voorman, John Barham, Nicky Hopkins and Ringo Starr…as well as others that filled in as needed, namely Leon Russel…as well as Jim Keltner, who had played with Harrison in 1971 in the Concert for Bangladesh.
“Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth“, whose title alone is a wonderful wish, was a prayer by George, to be free of karma and the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He stated that the song is “a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it”.
I like it. It was released in May of ’73…a great year for music. I still listen to that song and it sounds as fresh as the day I first heard it back in High School. The slide guitar solos and the acoustic guitar work…all done by George…give the song an easy flowing feeling that really enhances the strength of the words, the intensity of the prayer.
And looking at this song as a way to mend the present, it seems so far above the random calls for violence, for destruction of history, for the desecration of the the holy, as they did spray paint St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The call, in the early seventies…a time ripe for protests and a time when protests were occurring all over against the Vietnam War…was for Peace on Earth. George was making a plea to God to for Love, for Peace and to remain free from the bonds of karma. It was as much a spiritual quest for him as a plea to become the mantra of the generation of Peace and Love.
I will miss not being able to listen to anything new that George would have written. He passed away on 29 NOV 2001 in Los Angeles, California, USA. However, what he left behind, including his last album, Brainwashed, which was released in 2002, and which I love, will always be a reminder that, although, Lennon and McCartney considered George the “junior” Beatle, he was a force to be reckoned with in music.
Play on my friend…
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