George Harrison Documentary is must see Television…

George Harrison

Martin Scorsese has struck again.  First he made the documentary “The Last Waltz”:  a film about the final concert of The Band.  Then he makes a documentary about the early career of Bob Dylan called “No Direction Home”.  Now he gives us this amazing documentary called:  “George Harrison – Living in the Material World”.

The documentary aired last week on HBO.   The documentary is in two parts and is a total of about 4 hours long.  Scorsese was given exclusive access to George Harrison’s private archives by his widow Olivia Harrison.  Much of the material has never been seen before.  

Part one starts with his childhood and ends with the making of “The White Album”.  Some of the highlights of part one were the discussion with Paul McCartney about how George auditioned for John Lennon in the dead of night on the top deck of a Liverpool double-decker bus.  There are a lot of very interesting storys, pictures, and video about their early years in Germany provided by their long time friend Klaus Voorman.  The best moment of part 1 is right at the end when they interview Eric Clapton about playing on the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  Eric tells how George insisted that he play on the cut.  Eric says that the song is about the slow disintegration of the Beatles from George’s perspective: “I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping; while my guitar gently weeps.”  That was a wow moment for me.  I  had never heard that before.  Now it seems so obvious.

Part 2 covers the break up of the Beatles and continues the story of George’s exploration of eastern religious thought.  Highlights include interviews with Phil Spector, Ringo Starr and his last wife Olivia Harrison, as well as his son Dhani.  There is a riveting conversation with Olivia about the night a nut broke into the Harrison home and attacked and stabbed George.  Also, her description of  the moment of his death.

This documentary is well worth the time invested to watch it.  You can catch the reruns on HBO or it is available on demand at HBO GO.com.

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About John

I taught myself how to play the piano and read music when I was 9 years old. I've been been consumed by music ever since. I majored in Piano performance in College and I still play, although not as well as when I had time to practice 4 -6 hours per day. This blog is about music. Music is the sound track of our lives. All it take is one song, one composition; and we are transported across time and space. I think it was Beethoven that said: "Music is the landscape of the soul."
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12 Responses to George Harrison Documentary is must see Television…

  1. Pam Norman says:

    I didn’t realize what an incredibly spiritual guy George Harrison was, and also learned that he was the consummate English gardener.

  2. tex norman says:

    I watched the Harrison documentary and it was really wonderful. I was 14 years old when I heard my first Beatle song and through the formative years of my life they were the group. Hearing a song from the group, or any one of them moves me profoundly. I sort of hate that. Billions of people love these guys so I am just one of the masses. But they’re so good, they mean so much to me that, hey, who the hell cares. When I picked out songs to play at my memorial (whenever that it) they were almost all Beatle songs.

    • John says:

      I too am one of the masses. I remember listening to the Beatles, The Stones, and Simon and Garfunkel through your door when I was really young. The Beatles are woven into the fabric of our souls. They are the soundtrack of our lives. I get very emotional too when I hear their songs. I thought it was very emotional when they played Long, Long, Long from The White Album as the credits rolled. I also like how they used George’s great song All Thing Must Pass several times with great effect. May I ask what Beatle songs you picked?

      Thanks for the great comment!

  3. Ken West says:

    Somewhere, buried in a old camphor chest, is a photo of me at age 7 posing next to my phonograph with my very first record, a orange and yellow Capitol swirl label 45 of I Want to Hold Your Hand, with I Saw Her Standing There on the B side. 45 years later, Standing is still my favorite rock and roll song-I’ve listened to it literally hundreds of times and I can’t sit still when it’s playing, it thrills me to my marrow each and every time.

    • John says:

      When you hear “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or “I Saw Her Standing There” It takes you back in time. Who needs a time machine when you have music? I have been fortunate to see Paul McCartney live three times. I have heard him do those two songs live. It was like getting struck by lightning! As a matter of fact, the first time I saw him he played several Beatle songs that had never been played live by the Beatles. Strangers were holding hands and swaying to the music. People were crying. There is no other band I know that provokes such a deep emotional response from fans. It is beautiful and terrible all at the same time. I think we are all still in mourning for our collective loss…
      Our loss is on several levels too. Our youth, our innocence, our heroes. I know you know what I mean.

  4. Ken West says:

    Well said, John-I’m remembering a column in the Absolute Sound where someone expressed shock and dismay at the price of a high end turntable, the reply was “well, it’s cheap for a time machine!” Sir Paul has been number one on my concert bucket list for many years, I’ve got to make it happen. I’ve been able to see a couple of Ringo’s All Starr Band shows, and the wave of emotion I felt standing 40 or so feet away from him while he was singing With a Little Help From My Friends is something that it almost indescribable, but you did it beautifully!

    I’ve been listening to a lot of George’s solo stuff in the last few years-it really connects with me emotionally and spiritually. The posthumously released Brainwashed really knocked me out and still does, a rich and rewarding listen that I return to often.

  5. Ken West says:

    I watched the Harrison documentary last night and really enjoyed it. A few quibbles-I thought some of the transitions were a bit abrupt, and I couldn’t help but notice Yoko using the occasion to get in yet another dig at Paul, elevating John in the process, of course. Loved the reminisces of Voorman, Clapton, Jim Keltner (is there a better session drummer?), Ringo, Derek Taylor’s wife and Olivia, and it was a wonderful touch having Dhani read his father’s letters. Have you read the Bob Spitz Beatles biography? Great stuff, almost half the book concentrates on their childhood and high school years in Liverpool. Another highly recommended read is engineer Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Beatles, a fascinating (particularly for us audiophiles) fly on the wall account of how they created those timeless recordings in the studio.

    • John says:

      Dead on with your comments on Yoko. What’s her problem?? I haven’t read the Bob Spitz bio but I will now based on your recommendation. I haven’t read the Geoff Emerick book either. I guess I have some homework to do. Be sure to check out the comments of my Brother Tim and listen to his links he embedded for “Sound Check” that delve into this great band we all know as “The Beatles”!

  6. Tim says:

    I didn’t get to see the George Harrison documentary. Don’t know what happened, but I missed it. Maybe I can catch it again sometime in the future. I did hear a couple of SoundCheck episodes where they talked about the doc and I thought I would post links to them hear if anyone would like to listen to them. It is interesting to note on Soundcheck that there is the feeling that all of the Beatles played an important role and though some may have taken a bigger portion of the share in some ways they all were great contributors to making the Beatles one of the best bands in Rock-n-Roll history. Checkout these episodes and see if it doesn’t add a little more to your resolve of just how great a band they were.

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2011/sep/29/
    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2011/sep/29/beatles-2k11-all-about-george/

  7. GG Allin says:

    Forgive me, but I find George Harrison an incredibly overrated musician. Yes, he has some glorious tunes in his catalog, but he also has a spectacular number of duds. Perhaps it was for these reasons that I fell asleep during this doc. It takes a lot for a musician bio/doc to interest me. The last ones I can remember loving were the Harry Nillson bio (available on Netflix as of 2/2012) and Lou Reed’s “Rock & Roll Heart” doc, which was part of the PBS American Masters series.

    • John says:

      GG Allin: you can’t be wrong about how you feel, but as you might guess I couldn’t disagree with you more! George may have had a few “duds” but he was still a great musician. Certainly some of the greatest guitar players of rock-n-roll admired his playing (Cheif amoung these would be his close friend Eric Clapton. Check out his comments about George in his autobiography). I haven’t seen the American Masters program on Harry Nillson or Lou Reed, but I bet they were worth watching. Thanks for the comments and keep ’em coming. It’s actually nice to get a comment from someone who disagrees with my opinion.

      • GG Allin says:

        The Nillson doc wasn’t part of the AM series, but Lou’s was. Both are well worth watching even for the casual fan. I just discovered your blog – thanks for responding!

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