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If Not For George: How The Quiet Beatle Saved My Life
Early on the morning of November 30th, 2001, I turned on the radio to hear the news that "The 'Quiet Beatle' has died." He had passed away the previous day, November 29th. I was 13 years old and in the eighth grade. I knew who George Harrison was and that he had been sick for quite some time but I was not a fan of him or the Beatles in general. Funny as it is recollecting back on it now, I grew up HATING the Beatles. I was an Elvis girl. For me to show any interest or appreciation of the fab four was betrayal in my eyes. Upon hearing the news, I felt a sincere sadness. I am still unsure what it was that had me feeling emotional about the death of a man I had never shown interest in or really cared about. George had succumbed to cancer, a combination of lung, throat, and brain. During the same time, my grandfather was also fighting through his trials with prostate cancer. Besides this connection, I recall visiting my Grandpa the previous Summer and seeing on the news that George was becoming very ill. Six months after George's passing, my grandpa lost his battle in May 2002. These two great men were now gone, and it would be quite some time before I realized the influence they had on my life.
That evening my dad had MTV on the television as they played a marathon of George's videos. The only video I can recall was "Got My Mind Set On You." It would be almost a year and a half later before George showed himself to me again. His posthumous album, Brainwashed, was set to be released and there was one song that hit me like a ton of bricks. To this day, "Stuck Inside A Cloud" remains to be my favorite Harrison tune.
When I finally purchased the album, I was a freshman in high school. I began battling personal demons and tides of emotion due largely in part to my father being in and out of the hospital. He was slowly losing the function of his kidneys. One very vivid morning, I remember walking to school, watching the ambulance take my dad away, and not knowing until I got home, whether he was alive or not. Over time my dad's health slowly improved and I had become devoted to the words of George Harrison. Due to the depression that crippled my mind, I was considering dropping out of school. I could no longer take the pressure from my peers or my elders and slowly fell into a dark abyss. I would lie on the floor in my bedroom at night with the lights turned off, while listening to All Things Must Pass. George sang about death and how frightened we shouldn't be of it. His music helped me get through those dark times and I credit him heavily for inspiring me through out the years. I never did drop out and ended up graduating by the skin of my teeth in 2006 and my dad continues to bitch and tease to this day :D
It may seem strange to many, but I have never been more influenced by someone other than my own family, than I have been by George. No musician or celebrity has had such an enormous impact on my life than he has. I wonder ten years later how much more music he would have given us, had he chosen to do so. I'm almost certain that had he not passed away when he did, I would not have felt myself change or grow as emotionally and spiritually as I have. As far as being a musician goes, he is one of the most underrated of our time. He was a magnificent song writer and his only self proclaimed purpose in life was to be a servant of God.
There's a line in my favorite song that I'd like to close with. Thank you George for having as much influence on the world as you did.
"Talking to myself, crying as we part. Knowing as I leave you, I also lose my heart..."