I’ve been looking forward to spending quality time with the photo book by Olivia Harrison. The widow of George Harrison has compiled a rather large collection of images into a book that Beatles fans and Harrison fans, in particular, will want to have. I’ve had to wait in line to see and read George Harrison–Living In The Material World because there is only one copy at our library.
My patience was well rewarded. The book is quite large in format and in the number of pages. Each chapter illustrates a period of George Harrison’s life. I remember some of the images but most are revelations about parts of his life that are new to me.
Readers will enjoy the luxurious appearance and feel of the book as they savor each photograph. I could almost feel the love that went into each page. Selecting the photos and images must have been emotionally difficult for the author. It’s only been ten years since George’s death.
This isn’t a book to just flip through and cast aside. I found myself lingering on each image trying to imagine the event or moment the photo was taken. I’d sometimes go back to enjoy a photo again and see it from a new perspective.
Picking up this heavy book and bringing it to the table for comfortable viewing was like preparing a time machine. My mind was taken back to my childhood when I was caught up in Beatlemania. I had a youthful love of John Lennon and George Harrison. I could relate to both men. Later in life, my concepts of spirituality were quite similar to those of Harrison’s.
Around 1967 it seems like both Harrison and I discovered the masterful work of Sri Ravi Shankar. I had been gifted with a Shankar record of ragas for Christmas of 1966. The next year, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released. Of course, George’s “Within You, Without You” became one of my favorite songs from the album.
The book has many photographs of Harrison and Sri Shankar together. The Beatles’ spiritual and musical journey to South Asia is represented in chapter four. The close friendship between the student Harrison and the Master Shankar is evident in the photographs. Having seen Ravi Shankar in concert, I know the incredible charisma and energy that Shankar possesses. I can hardly imagine being around him, closely, on a regular basis. It’s no wonder that Harrison became skilled in playing the sitar.
Even people mildly interested in the Beatles and in Harrison’s solo career will enjoy the images of other famous musicians. Roy Orbison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Carl Perkins are a few names that come to mind. All of them, masters in their own way. George Harrison has a category of his own as one of the world’s greatest guitar players in history.
This book is a wonderful tribute to a complex, kind, compassionate and talented man.
George Harrison Living In The Material World by Olivia Harrison Abrams Books ISBN 978-1-4197-0220-4
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoys the song “Blue Jay Way” from “Magical Mystery Tour” and penned by George Harrison.