George Harrison: Living in the Material World

12 thoughts on “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”

    1. Thanks for the link, Kevin. Good review by your mate. When I saw the film at FACT it was full, too, and also a lot of love and laughter in the audience. For some strange reason FACT at first only put the film on for one screening (in Liverpool!), but after yours sold out put one one more. But then I’m less enamoured of FACT than your mate. They’re unadventurous in their programming, ignore certain films or only screen them once at some weird time, usually in The Box (The Box!!). I half-expected this was going to be in the bloody Box as I made my there.

  1. Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade. But one annoying detail. George was born on Feb 25, 1943. So his ‘soul’ would have entered his mother’s womb, as he puts it, sometime in late May 1942. No bombing raids had hit Liverpool since January 1942. In fact, that was the final occasion, albeit people at the time couldn’t have known that. Nevertheless he over-eggs it a bit.

    On the ‘absences’ in the Scorsese narrative: I wonder if that’s to politically detach George from his specific environment, and offer him up as an apolitical, deracinated, ‘spiritual’ entity

  2. I suspect Scorcese just isn’t especially political. In his defence, he does give time to the Bangladesh concert (how could he not?) but I would have liked to know how much money it actually raised, and how it was distributed. As for deracinated, I think the film shows that, though he aspired to a spiritual plane, he was very much of the ‘material world’ his time – the questing, but also the drugs, money, sex and rock n’roll (and an obsession with not letting the taxman get his dough – almost the first words we hear in the film are of Terry Gilliam recalling how he shifted the finances of Handmade Films to Switzerland to avoid the British public getting any benefit). I offered George’s musing outside Arnold Grove just to illustrate how he had a sense of the strange mysteriousness of his life’s trajectory. I suppose we all get confused about dates.

  3. What can I say? THANK YOU for sharing what must have been a spiritual experience in such a moving manner. I still have a strange sensation inside and the remnant of goose bumps outside. Netfilx (our online rental) does not have the film yet but I saved one entitled “George Harrison: The Quiet One” and the Dylan doc. George was underrated as a poet-composer. Indeed, many presume his songs to be Lennon-McCartney creations. I am part guilty in that respect and was awed by The Concert for George (oh to have been there!) and the diversity of his writing. While my Guitar Gently Weeps is one of my favourite all-time songs and I have several versions. I believe the number and quality of covers defines the artist and piece of music. Look at Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jackson C. Frank, Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” (in particular).

    Gerry, I admire how you live life to the full and your generosity of spirit in preserving those experiences for our edification and for posterity.

  4. Great review Gerry, full of relevant depth that I cant bring to my review of the film.
    My blog is about the Beatles “group genius”, so it is good to see a film on George which necessarily starts with how they developed as a group with George being given heft. As you say RIngo has most of the best observations. Both necessarily and by choice much is left out, creating a particular narrative. I dont think Americans get the context of the Beatles, or much of the UK post-war experience, but they sure know how to do the music. In the end this is a music documentary and the first part is a reasonable fresh edit of that story.
    Thanks for your deeper reflections on that :-)

  5. Can I just add two things: it’s a privilege to know such ace people as Fred and Gerry who never cease in their energy, commitment and helpful analysis. Chapeaux! Both your blogs bring enormous pleasure and satisfaction.
    The second is… although a contemporary of the Beatles (Page Moss chapter) I never saw/met/slept with any of them. But, in the context of this film, what I want to know is what happened to the girl who went to Bellerive who used to collect George Harrison’s sweet wrappers discarded from various local stages, later became a nun but then allegedly jumped over the wall.

  6. PS Agree with Dave – George, like all tax dodgers, was not apolitical. The opposite; waging class war by any other name albeit innocently. Personally I can’t be doing with content-free spiritual insights, especially when associated with drug habits, but I enjoyed the film. I suffer from that local congenital problem of interconnected bladder and tear ducts so Ringo’s ending to the film had the required impact. Not a dry seat in the house.

  7. Thanks Kevin. I’ve been doing my Beatles stuff for a number of reasons. Firstly I was part of a group that built a Facebook for learning for the govt bak in 2002, which was rejected. We were furious and formed first lastfridaymob then the Learner-Generated Contexts Group who produced the Open Context Model of Learning for the OU. John Seeley Brown called it the ‘most exciting thing happening in England’ whereupon the OU rejected it from the conference proceedings (stay with me here). In 2009 it was accepted for publication in Aussie and I said, you know I’m gonna write the novelisation as more than 20 people will read it that way. So I wrote 63/68 A Visceral History about how music guided me away from school. Freely available both on Kindle (in Dropbox) and here.

    Secondly, in order to publicise that I set up a blog, 9 after 909, to highlight the Beatles stories and hook up to the 9/9/9 remasters. That took off as a Beatles blog, then a friend asked me to apply the Open Context Model of Learning, which is about everyday creativity, to the Beatles career. So I did a series of Blog Posts on A Beatles YouTube Album about their creativity explicitly structuring their career Outliers/Singles/Albums/Psychedelia/Atelier/
    Thirdly the thing that struck me (welcome back) is that American writers have taken our UK source material (I mean we invented the Beatles after all) and have produced better “scholarship” about them, like Kenneth Womack, but with contextual errors.

    So challenged first by Russell, and then by Kevin, I thought I could produce better British scholarship about these scouse chappies than prissy US academics (where I have previous). Currently my plan is to do a TV series called Sixties Six (in 7 episodes) about working class creativity in the sixties using Levitin’s ‘The World in Six Songs’ as a framing device. I’ve even lined up Wayne Rooney’s cousin to help (she’s Kevin’s smarter sister)…

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