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So Who's My Favorite Beatle?

One of the first thing anyone asks after finding out that one is a Beatles fan (immediately following the usual query, "Aren't you too young to love The Beatles?") is, "who's your favorite Beatle?".
So, who is my favorite Beatle (and person)? George.
And why?

The very short answer: Because he was brilliantly talented as a guitarist, songwriter and musician; and a genuine, hilarious, honest, humble, complex and intriguing, not to mention beautiful (inside and out), soul.


The semi-short answer: There are so many reasons, but it all comes down to the fact that he was amazingly talented; an incredible songwriter, composer and guitarist; a genuine, very honest and kind soul; an individual who was far from perfect and never claimed to be so either; someone who once said that his goals in life was “To do as well as I can at whatever I attempt. And someday to die with a peaceful mind.” (Something he undoubtedly succeeded in); and one of the most profound and truly good people to ever grace this earth.


The longer answer: As a Beatlemaniac and a great fan of their solo work, I obviously adore all of The Beatles - but I have always had the biggest soft spot and a great deal of love for George, ever since I first “encountered” him in March 1995.


My eleven-year-old reasoning at the time was that I liked his talent, his personality, his humor, the way he sang “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” in A Hard Day’s Night, the way he looked (as I would come to realize: georgeous ;)), his charisma, his accent and the way he spoke.

Head over heels, my adoration was soon accompanied by respect as I grew older and read increasingly about him, becoming all the more intrigued by George.


People have been asking me why George is my favorite since I became a fan; and a lot of people tend to completely overlook or underrate George… not willing to see that he was an incredible individual.


So, to keep it as brief as possible, here are the top seven reasons as to why George is my favorite Beatle, and my all-time favorite person.


1. His songwriting and composing

It never ceases to amaze me that he wrote lyrics such as “Within You Without You” at the age of twenty-three… and that his solo career (so often underrated and overlooked) is filled with gems that should be classics. What also grips me is the fact that, in all his lyrics, there seems to be a bit of humor lurking around. His songwriting had such depth; even his love songs were never really just straightforward, happy-go-lucky tunes.
Listen to things like the solo in “Something” - the feel and emotion of it is stunning. Or the instrumental “Marwa Blues,” which is so beautiful, it can’t be adequately described. Or his incredible slide guitar playing.
I could go on for ages, but for the sake of space will wrap it up by saying that he was a fantastic, brilliant songwriter and composer who need not shy away from being compared to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting team. George remains just as good (and sometimes better).


2. What an astonishing musician he was

Not just that he reportedly played 26 (!) instruments; I particularly mean the way he was just such a great, understated guitarist! Just listen to all of his playing through the years.


3. That humor

I’ve found myself reading a quote by him that made me really thoughtful, because it was so serious, only to then turn the page to find a quote that nearly made me fall out of my chair with laughter. He had such a wonderfully dry and hilarious sense of humor… it made reading The Beatles Anthology all the more enjoyable, because I was always waiting for another quote to make me laugh. (Okay, admittedly, I did first read all of George’s quotes.) What I also respect is his - and the other three’s - ability to laugh at and about himself. They never took themselves all too seriously… something a lot of people could learn from.


4. His attitude toward people/his compassion

What I mean is - think about who organized the first really major benefit concert? It was George with the Concert for Bangladesh… and he was really looking to help people with so many things he did. I’d venture to guess that he gave far more to charities and other good causes than are publicly known.
Also, he must have been an incredible friend who is sorely missed. Just watch Living in the Material World to hear how much his friendship means to everyone.


5. The music

Not enough to say it is brilliant. From the Beatle years through his solo career, including The Traveling Wilburys, his music is timeless. This reason goes hand in hand with reason one, but just to reiterate again: George’s music is incredible.


6. His complexity and intriguing personality

You read about, and see, how amazing he was; how grumpy he could be; how deep; how hilarious; how humble; his perseverance and his spirituality; his love of gardening, the uke, fast cars and Formula One; and so much more… and it all adds up to make George completely unique, complex and, ultimately, irreplaceable.


When I found this quote by Tony Barrow in The Best of The Beatles Book, I thought it wrapped it up fittingly:

"Not only was George the Beatle who changed the most during the lifespan of the group, he was the one who was seen very differently by different people. To some he was serious, studious and sometimes sulky. Others saw him as a pleasant, chummy and cheerful lad. Others would say he was far too deep for them. In a way, everyone was right, and he was all of these things and more. George wasn’t a simple person to assess, even once you got to know him, but the one characteristic that never changed was his fundamental sincerity. George genuinely believed in what he said and did."


Much the same, Larry Kane sums it up neatly with these two quotes:

"George: ‘…I’ve been the same all along. I talk when I feel like it. I shut up when I don’t feel like talking.’

The last line tells you all you need to know about George Harrison: no pretense, no showboating, a strong sense of self and, for an entertainer in the glare of the spotlight, nary an ounce of superficiality.”


"George [Harrison] was one of the most unaffected people I’ve ever met, in showbusiness or out."


Another succinct quote (cited in While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison by Simon Leng) is by Doris Troy:

"George was beautiful, his soul was beautiful, and his mind was beautiful. His attitude was beautiful, he was just a beautiful guy, he was one of a kind. There’s not many people like George, I’m telling you, and I’ve met a lot of people over the years. The man was one of a kind."


To quote George: “I play a little guitar, write a few tunes, make a few movies, but none of that’s really me. The real me is something else.”


7. How humble, genuine and honest he was

George was so humble; by all accounts, becoming successful and famous left him totally unaffected. And he was modest, telling fans waiting outside the studio in the ’70s: “I don’t understand. Why do you wait for me? I’m nobody.”

Fame wasn’t important to him, and he never thought that he was something special because he happened to be one of the most famous faces on the planet. The mere fact that his entire attitude was that fame was insignificant in the greater scheme of things - that fame, money, stardom were far from what anyone might need - is one of my favorite things about George.


Obviously, the fame that came with being a Beatle was unprecedented, and even after the band’s break-up, it was still (is still) at a high level. For someone who, by all accounts, only ever wanted to play the guitar, and was a private person (who even as a child didn’t care for nosy people), it must have been uncomfortable… Even more so because, aside from being mobbed and not really getting much peace in the ’60s in particular, people reacted differently - even if George only ever saw himself as a regular person.


As George said:

"That is the main problem with fame – that people forget how act normally. They are not in awe of you, but in awe of everything that they think you’ve become. It’s a concept that they have of stardom and notoriety. So they act crazy."


Or comments like this one from the Anthology book:

"Every experience and thought has been recorded on your file within. Meditation is only a means to an end. You do it to release all the clutter out of your system, so that when it’s gone you become that which you are anyway. That’s the joke: we already are whatever it is we would like to be. All we have to do is undo it.
All we wanted was to be in a rock band, but as Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage and the people are only players.”


Along the same line of George not thinking he was above anyone:

"It’s shit. You can be a multi-millionaire and have everything you can think of in life, but it’s shit – you’re still going to die. You can go through life, go through millions of lives, and not even catch on to what the purpose is. You can try to see what the purpose is, and try to relate it back to Lime Street, Liverpool, just being a Scouse kid. That’s what I thought: ‘Well, this step from one to the other isn’t really that difficult; it’s just a change of attitude and a shift in perception.’ I always felt really close to the people, to the public, and to where I grew up, and the people who had become Beatles fans around the world.
That is, I suppose, why I wrote some songs that were trying to say: ‘Hey, you can all experience this, it’s available for everyone.’ But then you realise you can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink. You can be standing right in front of the truth and not necessarily see it, and people only get it when they’re ready to get it. Sometimes people took the songs the wrong way, as if I was trying to preach, but I wasn’t.”


It touches on the fact that, as I’ve heard, some people shrug George off as being preachy - he truly wasn’t, because he was talking to himself with his songs as much as to anyone who was listening.
It’s his spirituality, his outlook on existence that’s another major reason George is so inspiring.


"…His illness did have an impact on his songwriting. But you have to realize that he never sat around moping, ‘Oh, I’m ill.’ Even when he first found out that he was ill, years ago [in 1997], and the doctor gave him - what? - six months to live! He was just like, ‘Bollocks!’ He was never afraid. He was willing to try and get better, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t attached to this world in the way most people would be. He was on to bigger and better things. And he had a real total and utter disinterest in worrying and being stressed. My dad had no fear of dying whatsoever. I can’t stress that enough, really.” - Dhani Harrison, 2003


Then there are people who think George didn’t have much of a sense of humor (clearly, they haven’t really read or listened to much of George). He never lost a sense of humor, did he? (I mean, he even managed to joke about that terrible 1999 attack, saying for instance that whatever it was the intruder wanted, he certainly wasn’t there to audition for the Traveling Wilburys.) And judging from what we can see, hear, read, and know from friends of George’s, he was hysterically funny.


As Derek Taylor wrote in I Me Mine: “I have had to find one word to say that the man is. ‘Brave’ comes near, but it has too close a relationship to suffering and I have therefore concluded that, pirate as he is, [George] deserves the word ‘bold’ for he is, in truth, quite the boldest man I have ever met.”


No matter how much I write, I could still go on and on about why George is my favorite Beatle and my favorite individual to ever grace this planet. He was an astonishingly talented musician and songwriter, humble, hilarious, honest, caring… amazing.


To quote Olivia: “He was a scoundrel yogi. That’s what I loved about him, because he was honest. He was right up front about it. ‘I’m bad? O.K., I’m bad.’”


That is, in a way, the essence of why I love George: he had faults, he wasn’t a saint, and he never claimed to be one. All he ever tried was his best, and through it all, he was (still is) a truly beautiful soul… imperfectly perfect, if you will.


"All you can do in the end is to keep on doing the best you can for yourself. You can’t control anything. You have to guard things the best way you can but there is nothing much you can do, except to try to keep unattached." - George, I Me Mine

* * *

Miscellaneous reasons


- George and Paul's story of hitch-hiking together as teens; read about it in the Anthology book.


- George's grin... because I've found it irresisible since first seeing it.


- The way George looked so deep in concentration when playing the guitar, yet made it look so effortless.


- Sometimes, he was just so wonderfully silly.


- He (and the other three!) never cease to be interesting to me... which is why I never grow tired of reading about them, hearing about them, watching documentaries etc.


- Hey, The Beatles invented MTV. ;p


- The stories of the Hamburg days. Oh, to be able to time-travel...


- Each part of the movie "Help!", with special reference being made to the "fiendish thingy!" scene and all the bits in the Bahamas.


- What Klaus Voormann calls "Georgie-German". See Klaus' book "Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weissen Klavier, John?" for what I mean... it's hilarious!


- Did I forget to mention that he was hysterically funny?


- That slide guitar playing. Hands down, in my opinion, the best ever.


And the list could go on. And on. And... yeah, you get the idea. (Just see the "We Love George!" section for lots and lots of reasons.)
It could also be a lot more eloquent... Because, frankly, George is my favorite person ever. But for now, I'll just wrap things up by saying that George was one of the most talented musicians and songwriters ever; and his musical legacy is eternal.


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