The Day Everyone Is Nice to Your

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George Harrison died today. To quote Paul McCartney on hearing of John Lennon’s murder “What a drag!” The good thing about a cool musician dying is that you get to hear their music on the radio all day. Unless you’re Charles Manson everyone will say nice things about you when you die. It’s like the first day that they can do it because they wouldn’t dare say anything nice about you while you were still alive. Sure sometimes people can see how soon you are going to pop off and they throw a tribute to you like they did right before Sammy Davis Jr. died. I think they threw Bob Hope his sometime in the late 80’s but he inconveniently just kept going on. They’d throw one for Ronald Reagan, but he’d probably be hard pressed to differentiate his all star salute from a rerun of the Teletubbies Christmas Special. Of course, if radio stations had really cared they would have started playing all of George’s music when they first heard that he was ill. Corporations love it when Rock Stars die because it means that they can finally start to move their back catalog.

The song I most enjoyed hearing on the radio today was Wah Wah off All Things Must Pass. I was in Pittsburgh visiting when Elvis died. I remember being in a hotel in Cincinnati when John Belushi died. I was sleeping in a friend’s bed when his girlfriend woke me up and left him a message on his machine about Kurt Cobain. Right after my girlfriend desecrated my life I was renting a closet size room in San Francisco near the Haight. I would stay up all night flipping back and forth between MTV and the Playboy Channel until my friend went to his trading job at like in the morning and then I would nod off in his bed. He had great pillows and blankets. I loved that bed. There aren’t many people in the world that will let you use their bed on a regular basis. Apparently, if I’m in a temporary bed it’s not a good time to be a celebrity that I dig.

 

 I don’t remember where I was when John Lennon died which is odd because I’ve often written that I am more obsessed with John Lennon than Mark David Chapman was.

 

Someone just asked me the other day if I had ever sung a song to a girl before, and today I wrote back that the one time that I actually did that was when I sang I’m Happy Just to Dance With You on my first date with the aforementioned girl after we watched a video of A Hard Day’s Night. George Harrison was the one who sang that song in the film. I can sort of play it on guitar, but I never could get the rhythm part quite right.

 

sorry George my local station just moved on to the Stones your day in the sun is over.

 

You hate to see someone cool die while there are so many other more respectable choices I’d rather see dead. I always loved hearing Bill Hicks asking Chapman why he killed Lennon. “Hey I’ll drive you to Barry Manilow’s house!” he’d say.

 

I think that George’s death will be more convenient as a lesson to kids. See what happens when you take lots of LSD and smoke cigarettes nearly every single minute of your waking day? John Lennon’s death was more difficult. See what happens when you become a defiant symbol of Peace and Love?

 

The most interesting thing I found about that official Beatles book that came out last year was George complaining about how Paul always seemed to be a couple of years older than him and how even after forty or so years had passed it seemed to still be true. Paul was probably right about how he was sort of like a big brother to him. Lennon was like his idol pretty much until the day he died I think. I love Harrison’s Lennon tribute All Those Years Ago.

 

If you ever want to see the ultimate brotherly fight check out George telling Paul in Let It Be that he’ll play anything he wants or not at all, and that on the whole he’d much rather be hanging with Eric Clapton. It’s sad but funny.

 

I don’t know if this is true but I once heard a story about a nude guitar duel that Eric Clapton had with George Harrison over Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd, who Clapton wrote Layla for and eventually married and divorced. Supposedly George lost, but me personally I’ll take him over Clapton any day. Nothing he played on guitar was particularly amazing, but I don’t think there is another guitarist that has ever lived that played such memorable and sing able solos. I know the solos to All My Loving, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Let It Be better than I know their lyrics. Ok maybe I made up the nude part, but that’s how I seem to have remembered it.

 

The one thing I learned today that I thought was pretty funny was that Frank Sinatra used to always introduce Harrison’s Something as a Lennon/McCartney number. I’ve always thought it was funny how Frank Sinatra hated the Beatles when they first came out but eventually picked Something as the most beautiful love song of the last twenty or so years. I’ve always wondered if he ever changed his mind about the early stuff or not. I doubt it. I don’t even think Elvis really understood the Beatles much. He recorded Hey Jude, but he didn’t even manage to learn more than one verse of it. I have friends who are really into the whole rat pack thing. Personally, I don’t get it. I suppose those guys were living like rock stars, but they certainly weren’t anywhere near their peak in either talent or output and they didn’t really seem to be about anything. I don’t care how much LSD George Harrison took (I once read that he took it until it’s only effect was that it started to  make his back hurt) I’d rather teach kids about the Beatles than Sinatra any old day.

 

I saw someone interview a kid in England and he said it was like one of his leaders died, which I thought was cool because I’d follow Pete Townshend, or Ray Davies into battle long before I’d listen to anyone who has run a country over the past thirty years. As far as I can see “All You Need Is Love” is the coolest thing anyone has written, said or sung in at least the past 100 years.

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