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Music — Who Can See it, by George Harrison

George Harrison

I’ve been listening to “Living in the Material World” by George Harrison all week in the car. It’s not the first time listening to it, but it is the first time I’m hearing and absorbing it and appreciating how wonderful and spiritual it is. It’s more like church music than rock and roll. I would love to hear this album on a good sound system in an old heavy wooden church! Wouldn’t it be a blast to have a Church of Rock and Roll and have music services on Sundays in an acoustically resonant church?  Maybe an old-time renovated theater?

From wikipedia:
Living in the Material World is the fourth studio album by English musician George Harrison, released in 1973 on Apple Records. As the follow-up to 1970’s critically acclaimed All Things Must Pass and his pioneering charity project, the Concert for Bangladesh, it was among the most highly anticipated releases of that year. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America two days after release, on its way to becoming Harrison’s second number 1 album in the United States, and produced the international hit “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”. It also topped albums charts in Canada and Australia, and reached number 2 in Britain.

Living in the Material World is notable for the uncompromising lyrical content of its songs, reflecting Harrison’s struggle for spiritual enlightenment against his status as a superstar, as well as for what many commentators consider to be the finest guitar and vocal performances of his career. In contrast with All Things Must Pass, Harrison scaled down the production for Material World, using a core group of musicians comprising Nicky Hopkins, Gary Wright, Klaus Voormann and Jim Keltner. Ringo Starr, John Barham and Indian classical musician Zakir Hussain were among the album’s other contributors.

[Around the time of making and afterwards of The Concert for Bangladesh and other busy-ness] George’s devotion to Hindu spirituality … reached new heights. As [he] admitted, his adherence to his spiritual path was not necessarily consistent. His wife, Pattie Boyd, and their friend Chris O’Dell would joke that it was hard to tell whether he was dipping into his ever-present Japa Yoga prayer bag or “the coke bag“. This duality has been noted by Harrison biographers Simon Leng and Alan Clayson: on one hand, George earned himself the nickname “His Lectureship” during his prolonged periods of fervid devotion; on the other, he participated in bawdy London sessions for the likes of Bobby Keys’ eponymous solo album and what Leng terms Harry Nilsson’s “thoroughly nasty” “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”, both recorded in the first half of 1972. Similarly, George’s passion for high-performance cars saw him lose his driving license for the second time in a year after crashing his Mercedes into a roundabout at 90 miles an hour, on February 28, with Boyd in the passenger seat.

In August 1972, with the Concert for Bangladesh documentary film having finally been released worldwide, Harrison set off alone for a driving holiday in Europe, during which he chanted the Hare Krishna mantra nonstop for a whole day, he later claimed. Religious academic Joshua Greene, a Hare Krishna devotee, has described this trip as Harrison’s “preparation” for recording the Living in the Material World album.

Who Can See It? has me captivated. Wikipedia says it’s about his time after The Beatles. As I listened to it this week without any preconceived notions, I hear it as prayer to God, a plea.

Wiki says:
A dramatic ballad in the Roy Orbison vein, the composition features unusual changes in time signature and a melody that incorporates musical tension. Harrison self-produced the recording, which includes heavy orchestration and a choir, both arranged by John Barham. Several commentators consider Harrison’s vocal performance on “Who Can See It” to be among the finest of his career, while his production style has been likened to that of Beatles producer George Martin. The other musicians on the track are Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner and Gary Wright.

Among reviews of the song, “Who Can See It” has been described as an “aching, yearning masterpiece.”




I’ve been held up,
I’ve been run down
I can see quite clearly now
Through those past years,
When I played towing the line.
I only ask, that what I feel,
Should not be denied me now,
As it’s been earned, and
I have seen my life belongs to me
My love belongs to who can see it

I’ve lived in fear,
I’ve been out there,
I’ve been ’round and
Seen my share
Of this sad world
And all the hate,
That it’s stirred
I only ask,
That what I know,
Should not be denied me now
As it’s been learned,
And I have seen my life belongs to me
My love belongs to who can see it

I only ask, that what I feel,
Should not be denied me now
As it’s been earned, and
I have seen my life belongs to me

My love belongs to who can see it.

My love belongs to who
Songwriters: George Harrison

18 thoughts on “Music — Who Can See it, by George Harrison

    1. The more I learn about George the more I see him as a person of polar extremes. He was extremely spiritual but at the same time extremely hedonistic. He was a brilliant songwriter, singer, and musician but at the same time lacked confidence. He was extremely gregarious but at the same time extremely introverted. He was able to produce excellence in the production studio when he didn’t have interference but as the Beatles Team, he was hesitant and dominated. Public performances had him shy and awkward, but his “home movie” videos he was relaxed and happy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He really was and the era he lived in didn’t help the hedonistic ways. British rock stars and their wives were a different breed then. That is no excuse though because McCartney from all accounts was totally faithful to Linda.
        His Beatle days…when he started to be more assertive he excelled as in Something and Here Comes The Sun…How tough would it be to be in a band with possibly two of the best songwriters in the 20th century? I do think they did influence him…how could that not rub off? I would think he was intimidated by them…you would have to be.
        As a guitar player his playing was much better in his solo days to me. When he learned the slide…he found his voice musically. He never was a guitar player who ad-libbed like Clapton…that just wasn’t him. His playing was well thought out.
        You are right…he was always awkward playing live. The 1974 tour was a disaster because of him losing his voice. If that tour would have went well…I have to wonder if he would have toured more.
        I gained a whole new respect for him personally reading Pattie’s book. He seemed to be a sweet, kind, and generous man. There were bumps but everyone has them.

        Sorry for the novel I wrote lol

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Some very nice thoughts on the album, M. I don’t play LitMW as much as I do the others. In fact, it may get fewer listens then any of the others, though I still love it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. All Things Must Pass is a given. Not only is it arguably George’s best work, but I have always described it to friends who have never heard it, but are Beatles fans, as like discovering there is one Beatles album they had not yet heard. My personal favorite is Thirty-Three and a Third, but there is much to discover on every Harrison album. I just tend to make my own mixes based on my mood at the time. Songs like Maya Love, Dream Away, Unknown Delight, Loves Comes to Everyone, Flying Hour, Blow Away, The Rising Sun. Truly, I could go on and on if you let me. If you go deeper into his catalog, I would love to know what you discover. Great blog, by the way! Keep writing! — Geo.

        Liked by 1 person

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