I don’t remember the exact moment I first heard George Harrison’s voice, because I probably didn’t think anything of it. After all, I was too young to remember the first time I heard The Beatles blasting through the speakers in our living room. At that point in my life, I couldn’t possibly have known what an impact George would have on my life and my soul.
My dad always played The Beatles. It’s been a long standing tradition that he plays “Birthday” as loudly as he possibly can over the phone while shouting “HELLO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” at my relatives on their respective birthdays. And I expect the song to wake me up every year on my own birthday. As a matter of fact, some of my earliest memories are set to a soundtrack of Beatles music. I always loved Ringo, probably because he sang “Octopus’ Garden” and it made me laugh a little to think about the lyrics.
But as I grew up, I realized that my heart (and ears) belonged to George. I remember listening to his solo albums a few times and thinking he had the most beautiful voice…he just seemed to love everyone with every word he sang. My sister had some lyrics to “Beware of Darkness” taped to her mirror and I used to read them and not understand just how prophetic the words were, but looking back they still meant something to me.
Anyway, I guess the point is, I love George Harrison with my entire soul. I feel like I know him, and I think he would be alright with me saying that. He had this air about him that makes me believe that he wanted me to understand him, and I think that if I’d ever met him I wouldn’t be disappointed. I don’t mean that like I know his deepest thoughts or feelings, but I think that the basic kindness I believe he possessed would be apparent to any passerby.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I wish he were still alive. I didn’t have enough time to love him and his work while he was around, and though his death doesn’t necessarily hinder my appreciation, it makes something feel different. It feels a little sadder, really, now that I’m so inspired by a man who is no longer on this earth. I guess from what I know of him, his being alive isn’t necessary for me to still be influenced by him.
Someone once asked me who my biggest role model was, stipulating that I had to choose someone I didn’t know personally. “George Harrison.” My answer was immediate, though I wasn’t entirely sure why. But after reading part of “Dark Horse” and receiving the book “George Harrison: Life in the Material World” for Christmas this year (and subsequently reading 2/3 of it in a day), I think I understand. His calm saved me. I had a really difficult time these past few months and one of the only things I had to hold on to was music. I can’t tell you how many times I played the albums All Things Must Pass and Cloud Nine. At one point, the only way I could fall asleep was by listening to “Someplace Else” on repeat for hours. His calm, quiet, beauty saved me. And I realize I want to be like him. I want to be peaceful and loving like him. I want to search for myself the way he did…and I want to be alright with maybe never finding myself.
I love George Harrison for making me want to be a better person. And I love him for changing not only my world, but everyone else’s too.