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Living In The Material World
September 28, 2011 3:41 PM   Subscribe

After the success of No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese has turned his documentary eye toward another 60s musician. On October 5 and 6, George Harrison: Living In The Material World will run on HBO in two parts. The film has already played some film festivals and gotten great reviews.

The companion book is already available at Amazon.
posted by hippybear (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this man.
posted by punkfloyd at 3:57 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really looking forward to this.
posted by octothorpe at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2011


Yeah, i'm pretty keen on seeing this, too. I'm hoping it might shed some light on Harrison's personality, which is still something of a mystery.

It occurs to me that he exhibited a bit of a split personality, which manifested itself in his songwriting by swinging back and forth between his India-inspired spiritual philosophizing (in songs like Within You/Without You, My Sweet Lord, and Give Me Love) and the bitingly sarcastic, acerbic work like Piggies, Taxman, Only a Northern Song and Think For Yourself.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:47 PM on September 28, 2011


When I was a kid, I decided George was my favorite Beatle based solely on the fact that we shared a birthday. Then I heard about his story, the type of things he was drawn to, the arc of his life with the Beatles, the quirky humor he had -- shit, even the Monty Python geek tendancies -- and realized that in some respects, we share more than a birthday: we have a spiritual outlook that is all about the search rather than what you find, a fondness for the kind of humor where you don't really crack jokes every five minutes, but prefer to hang back until you think of something REALLY good, and the need to sometimes tend to the simple things in this material world (he went out to the garden to tend his roses, I take to the kitchen and can fruit).

I am SO looking forward to this. I've just learned it's part of the New York Film Festival and I'm getting a ticket.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Harrison#Lederman_affair
...it was alleged that while under the care of Staten Island University Hospital, Dr Gilbert Lederman, a radiation oncologist, repeatedly revealed Harrison's confidential medical information during television interviews and forced him to autograph a guitar. ...Lederman and his family came to visit Harrison and began singing, and that, in laboured breaths, Harrison said, "Please stop talking." Later, Lederman allegedly had his son play the guitar for Harrison...after the performance, Lederman asked Harrison for an autograph on the guitar, and Harrison responded, "I do not even know if I know how to sign my name any more." Lederman then allegedly took Harrison's hand and guided his hand along to spell his name while encouraging him by saying, "Come on, George. You can do this. G-E-O..."
I really wish this hadn't happened to George Harrison at the end of his life.
posted by anazgnos at 5:00 PM on September 28, 2011


Back in the day there was a baby boomer shorthand personality test: who is your favorite Beatle?

John meant that you were politically aware and a relentless seeker of truth, Paul showed that you aspired to shallow virtuosity and a powerful ego, Ringo indicated a fun-loving hedonist who didn't mind being along for the ride, and if George was your favorite, you were spiritual and more interested in the universe beyond the daily illusion.

With the passage of time and a new generation coming of age this test is no longer as accurate as it once was.
posted by squalor at 5:36 PM on September 28, 2011


With the passage of time and a new generation coming of age this test is no longer as accurate as it once was.

Huh? I grew up with this. I was John. I was always John. My dad was John. I'm self-centered, spiteful, too emotional for my own good and occasional capable of great goodwill (I view 'Imagine' as an unfortunate blip).

George is better than Paul though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:45 PM on September 28, 2011


Anybody else see the title "Living in the Material World" and get excited about a Scorsese-directed Madonna documentary?

No? Just me? Okay, then. I'll just, uh, let myself out.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:46 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anybody else see the title "Living in the Material World"

Such a world of difference between "a" and "the", isn't there?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:49 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows that the Scorsese documentary on Madonna will be called "Touched For The Very First Time".
posted by hippybear at 5:49 PM on September 28, 2011


I didn't like 'No Direction Home'. It was bland compared to Don't Look Back and didn't capture Dylan's protean spirit as well as I'm Not There.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:09 PM on September 28, 2011


Can't wait to see this.
posted by chococat at 6:41 PM on September 28, 2011


Back in 1987 there was a documentary on the 20th anniversary of Sgt Pepper's and the "Summer of Love". Many of the key players were asked if it was true that "All you need is love" - only George stood by it. By contrast, Paul McC said you needed money.

A man of integrity, I tell you.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 6:43 PM on September 28, 2011


A man of integrity, I tell you.

But apparently not totally devoid of the occasional proud boast and one-upmanship, as his son Dhani recalled once in an interview....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on September 28, 2011


See in my test, saying that saying John "meant that you were politically aware and a relentless seeker of truth" meant that you were actually politically shallow and eager to overlook some truly monstrous narcissism and grotesque personal habits in lieu of facile celebrity, and saying that saying Paul "showed that you aspired to shallow virtuosity and a powerful ego" meant that you were completely unwilling to look past easy media narratives and appreciate the person who was actually the most gifted and musically adventurous member of the band.
posted by anazgnos at 8:31 PM on September 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


See in my test, saying that saying John "meant that you were politically aware and a relentless seeker of truth" meant that you were actually politically shallow and eager to overlook some truly monstrous narcissism and grotesque personal habits in lieu of facile celebrity


Or you admire monstrous narcissism because you prefer music that's more real and personal than some silly love songs.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:01 PM on September 28, 2011


Or you admire monstrous narcissism because you prefer music that's more real and personal than some silly love songs.

There's also that part of music that doesn't have lyrics. Paul would get a lot more respect if he were fragile and obviously crazy like Brian Wilson (who tends to writes equally silly words when he does it himself; see "Solar System," for example), rather than goofy and egotistical but basically stable.

Spirit of George Harrison, I apologize for using your thread to argue about the merits of Paul McCartney, who was so little fun to play with sometimes.
posted by Adventurer at 9:42 PM on September 28, 2011


There's also that part of music that doesn't have lyrics. Paul would get a lot more respect if he were fragile and obviously crazy like Brian Wilson

The Beatles tried to top Pet Sounds with Sgt Peppers, but I'm not sure they succeeded. Brian wasn't as consistently good, but songs like 'God Only Knows' and 'Heroes & Villains' are up there with the best of the Beatles because they combine that emotional vulnerability with a bit of pop.

If you like George Harrison's solo stuff, try tracking down the Aussie group Sleepy Jackson (which become Empire of the Sun, which is much more dance-pop).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:46 PM on September 28, 2011


Wait, are we still having this discussion about Lennon and McCartney? In 2011? Both were undeniably tremendously gifted songwriters, but c'mon. Paul's craft is simply other level. History will view him as being on a par with Gershwin or Porter or Berlin.

Without getting too soppy about it, I'll only say that as an artist, McCartney speaks to discovering the exuberance and joy to be found in even the smallest and most common moments of life, and he does so with an unembarrassed, unashamed nature that still remains sadly uncommon. Our world is a kinder and happier one for him being one of the biggest pop musicians of the last 50 years. I'm nicer to strangers and quicker to tell my friends that I love them because of his music. I hope none of us are still so adolescent as to assume that just because a work of art is positive, it's also trifling; for some of us, happiness takes just as much introspection and soul-searching as sorrow and anger.

THAT SAID, I am very, very excited to watch this. George was a fantastically bizarre and brilliant, both as a musician and as a human being.
posted by incomple at 9:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


After the success of No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese has turned his documentary eye toward ...George Harrison

Will this be a 3.5 hour movie that covers Harrison's career through 1966?
posted by neuron at 10:03 PM on September 28, 2011


I saw a screening of this film this summer. It is fantastic. If you are a Beatles fan, it will bring you to tears: both of sadness and of joy.
posted by Blogwardo at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2011


if only all of the criticisms of Paul could be encapsulated in one catchy, angry song
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:13 PM on September 28, 2011


I can’t say this looks interesting, but then again I only watched No Direction Home on accident and turned from a Dylan naysayer into a fan. 40 years of not getting it and one film changed my mind. I know others who said the same thing.
posted by bongo_x at 10:14 PM on September 28, 2011


the greatest guitar solo ever
posted by philip-random at 10:23 PM on September 28, 2011


Damn, philip-random, I can't wait for Scorsese's Prince documentary.
posted by incomple at 10:29 PM on September 28, 2011


The Beatles tried to top Pet Sounds with Sgt Peppers, but I'm not sure they succeeded. Brian wasn't as consistently good, but songs like 'God Only Knows' and 'Heroes & Villains' are up there with the best of the Beatles because they combine that emotional vulnerability with a bit of pop.

A lot of people think Sgt. Pepper is one of their weaker albums. I'm not inclined to rank them, but there's some filler. I'm not sure what your argument is, though: maybe the Beatles didn't get as many great songs onto one album as Brian did with Pet Sounds, but Brian didn't write the words to "God Only Knows" or "Heroes and Villains" (which is not on Pet Sounds or, arguably, terrifically emotionally vulnerable), or many of their early songs at all, and your problem with Paul is his lyrics, right? My point is that nobody takes Brian Wilson less seriously because he wrote "Johnny Carson" (which I love), but "Let 'Em In" is just as cracked, and that's presented as evidence that Paul's not serious enough to take seriously. Despite the "For No Ones" and "Hey Judes" in his back catalog.
posted by Adventurer at 10:37 PM on September 28, 2011


Sour Milk Sea should have been on the White Album in place of Honey Pie or Piggies or something. That song is too rad to have been left off. I mean, come on!
Ringo indicated a fun-loving hedonist who didn't mind being along for the ride.
Fuckin' A. (Also, admitting to people that Ringo is my favorite Beatles always seems like a mistake, because I always get a bunch of shit for it).
posted by Redfield at 10:42 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Hey Jude' is just fantastically boring.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:43 PM on September 28, 2011


He isn't always my favorite, but for a long time I've found George the most comforting Beatle, maybe because he was in many respects, despite his appetites, the sanest. Not only funny, possibly the funniest guy in a band full of natural comedians, but also inclined to totally reasonable extravagant gestures. A couple of George moments I find oddly reassuring: "Cheer Down"; these detailed instructions to a fan in Liverpool in re: how to wash his car and where to dispose of the water.
posted by Adventurer at 10:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Hey Jude' is just fantastically boring.

You're bored by "Hey Jude," I'm bored by the Gaslight Anthem. What are you gonna do?
posted by Adventurer at 10:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didn't George fund a few Terry Gilliam films?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:01 PM on September 28, 2011


We're all George.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:30 PM on September 28, 2011


Paul's craft is simply other level. History will view him as being on a par with Gershwin or Porter or Berlin.

Yeah, We All Stand Together is right up there with Porgy and Bess.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:33 PM on September 28, 2011


Didn't George fund a few Terry Gilliam films?

Yep - Eric Idle alludes to it in the trailer linked above. It started when George-- who was a MASSIVE Monty Python fan -- learned that the producers had backed out of funding LIFE OF BRIAN at the very last minute, and that the project was in jeopardy; and he called his accountant and mortgaged his house THAT DAY to make himself an executive producer for the film, because that's how badly he wanted to see a Monty Python movie.

That was how the company "Handmade Films" was started -- they went on to produce Time Bandits, a couple other Python-related films, and even Withnail and I. (It also funded Madonna's Shanghai Surprise, but we can't win at everything.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:55 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Handmade Films also produced How To Get Ahead In Advertising, one of the most astute cultural dissections and hilarious movies of all time.

(And I've always felt harkened back to George's solo scene from A Hard Day's Night quite nicely.)
posted by hippybear at 4:09 AM on September 29, 2011


Poor George. In death as in life, on the internet as in Real Life, a conversation about him invariably takes a sharp turn into Lennon/McCartneyland.

Guess it was his fate, though, seeing as how he was in a band with two of the 20th century's greatest songwriters. Dude contributed a total of 22 songs to the Beatles' catalog, but that undoubtedly would've been a much higher number had he really been given the space and encouragement to contribute as a songwriter.

Otherwise, let me just say that arguments about who was the more talented songwriter, Lennon or McCartney, are basically FUCKING STUPID.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Also, admitting to people that Ringo is my favorite Beatles always seems like a mistake, because I always get a bunch of shit for it).

Child, be at peace with your Inner Ringo. Cause he was a fuckin badass rock drummer.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:22 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Child, be at peace with your Inner Ringo. Cause he was a fuckin badass rock drummer.

I think you mean he IS a fuckin' badass rock drummer. He was all over Europe the middle of this year, and he'll be spending November touring South America. Not to mention his new album Y Not.
posted by hippybear at 4:29 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the update, hippybear.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 AM on September 29, 2011


Dude contributed a total of 22 songs to the Beatles' catalog, but that undoubtedly would've been a much higher number had he really been given the space and encouragement to contribute as a songwriter.

That's actually the reason why his All Things Must Pass came out so quickly and was so huge (it was a TRIPLE ALBUM); because those were all songs he wrote for the Beatles that they ultimately voted down in deference to the Lennon/McCartney songs. So when the Beatles ultimately broke up, that was his little dig about, "alright, you fuckers, your loss."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:09 AM on September 29, 2011


So which Wilbury will Scorsese profile next?
posted by wheelieman at 7:06 AM on September 29, 2011


Back in 1987 there was a documentary on the 20th anniversary of Sgt Pepper's and the "Summer of Love". Many of the key players were asked if it was true that "All you need is love" - only George stood by it. By contrast, Paul McC said you needed money.

He changed his mind.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:17 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So which Wilbury will Scorsese profile next?

Well, Tom Petty already has his 4 hour career retrospective documentary, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
posted by hippybear at 4:22 PM on September 29, 2011


One thing I learned late about George was that he was a ukelele fan, and often liked jamming with friends. But he kept running into them when they didn't have one handy. So he started traveling with TWO ukeleles on him so if a friend didn't have one, he'd loan them one.

This is a man who kept himself prepared at all times for the possibility of spontaneous ukelele duets.

At the "Concert For George" tribute Eric Clapton arranged for a year after his death, Paul McCartney had a lovely tribute both to him and his ukelele fanhood.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 PM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


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