Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Read - I Me Mine

Okay, this is more of Harrison’s insight on and inspiration surrounding the many songs of his career than a real memoir, but this is the closest we have to any Beatle writing an autobiography. The introduction, written by his widow Olivia, is a tender and personal look at what Harrison (and his music) meant to others. Featuring the personal copies (and the revisions) of over eighty of Harrisons songs, “I Me Mine” also includes archival photos of the great man during different periods of his life (with amusing captions to go along with them), and a brief “biography” of his life. But this book is more about Harrison’s music (and at times, religious beliefs), not him self. I think that this is just one indication of how not conceited George Harrison was – never considering the self as being important, just the things we do in life. Before his death in 1980, John Lennon openly expressed unhappiness that Harrison only mentioned his names a handful of times throughout the book. Lennon considered himself as an influence and aid to his former band mate when Harrison was establishing himself as a songwriter and lacked Lennon’s experience or wordplay skill. But Lennon apparently failed to realize that his name was mentioned more times than Ringo’s name, Paul’s, or George’s first and second wives combined. But that was just George’s nature, I suppose, though it’s a shame that his reserve and discretion over personal details caused his former collaborator to think that he undervalued their partnership. In the bits that George does write, his dry and deprecating sense of humor soaks through. For the song “Blue Jay Way,” inspired by Derek and Joan Taylor’s now-infamous tardiness, he writes: “the mood is also slightly Indian. Derek Taylor is slightly Welsh.” He is quick to dismiss songs like “Don’t Bother Me,” saying he didn’t “think it’s a particularly good song, it mightn’t even be a song at all”; calls “Beware of Darkness” as having a melody that’s “sort of strange”; finds fault that “So Sad,” written while he was splitting up with Pattie, “is depressing, it is so sad.” He even rewrote the bridge to “I Want to Tell You” to suit what he felt the song was truly communicating. Published over two decades before his death, “I Me Mine” still remains a perfect account of Harrison’s life, worthy to read if even just to hear the Quiet Beatle in his own words. And who would not be enticed by his introduction, which states, “I have suffered for this book; now it’s your turn.”

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