#10: George Harrison: All Things Must Pass: 1970
George Harrison was an interesting man. He was dubbed the quiet Beatle because in interviews Lennon and Mc Cartney were the talkative ones. Most of the recognition for the Beatles songwriting went to Lennon and Mc Cartney but, not to be overlooked, George Harrison was a gifted songwriter and an extremely talented lead guitarist both in the Beatles and as a solo artist.
The song we are singing today, All Things Must Pass, released in late November 1970, was part of Harrison’s first solo work after the disbandment of The Beatles in April of that year. The lyrics recognize the fact that all things must indeed pass, even for a band with the status of The Beatles. “It came to pass but not to stay,” was one of my mother’s sayings and it is forever true. Life is a series of circumstances with a whole lot of little deaths as things change, transform, grow and pass. Sometimes things pass and change very quickly and it takes all that we have to keep some kind of balance. But all things must pass, until we come to that final time and place of passing from this material world into the next.
The lyrics of All Things Must Pass is an indication of Harrison’s spiritual quest to find meaning in this life and to prepare for the next. The words are actually Biblical, however, it is recorded that Harrison’s inspiration was a piece of poetry based on the Tao Te Ching; a Chinese Classical text written around 400 BC.
“All things pass, a sunrise does not last all morning. All things pass, a cloudburst does not last all day.”
I surely didn’t fully appreciate Harrison until I viewed Scorsese’s 2011 documentary film, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, the story of Harrison’s life and musical career. George Harrison was, like the rest of us, a flawed human but one with a big, humble, generous heart; a benefactor to many less fortunate and a brilliant musician.
If you wanted to understand a little of the man, perhaps the Concert for George which was held as a memorial to him on the first anniversary of his passing might just give an inkling. A whole heap of Harrison’s musical contemporaries got together to perform his songs before a packed audience at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The profits from the event went to an organization founded by Harrison, The Material World Charitable Foundation.
The embedded YouTube clip is of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Harrison’s son, Dhani and others performing Harrison’s song, All Things Must Pass, at the Concert for George 29/11/2002.