Ignored Obscured Restored
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. The timing of the release ensured that the 3 disc, boxed set would be found under the Christmas tree of Beatles fans all over the world.
ATMP may be the best Beatles’ solo album. OK, John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band (1970) and Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run (1973) may give it a run for that claim. ATMP was the result of compiling a backlog of great songs after many years of being “subtly sat on” by Lennon, McCartney, and George Martin, as Harrison described his situation to Dick Cavett in a 1971 interview that can be seen on YouTube. In a June 1970 interview with Al Aronowitz, of Rolling Stone, Harrison said “I thought after I moved into my new house, I’d take a year off and do nothing, but here I am getting ready to make my own album in two weeks. The point is that we’re all of us writing too much now to put it all onto one Beatle record anyway.”
The album used a who’s who of session musicians including Klaus Voorman, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Dave Mason, Bobby Keys, Pete Drake, Gary Brooker, Badfinger, Ringo Starr, Derek (Eric Clapton) and his future Dominoes – Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock – coming off tour with Delaney and Bonnie.
Phil Spector co-produced the album with Harrison, so it is predictably drenched in reverb. Cal Poly’s Professor James Cushing said “The album’s blend of an epic Phil Spector orchestral sweep and the intimacy of Harrison’s voice is the key to the album’s paradox, and why the music holds up (mostly) after a half century, because it’s as big as the Beatles ever wanted to be, bigger than Shea Stadium, while it’s also George taking you aside and speaking to you privately about important matters.”
That brings me to today’s SotW – the album’s title song, “All Things Must Pass.”
A Let It Be reject, “All Things Must Pass” contains some very nice guitar work. Harrison said, “I wrote it after [The Band’s 1968] Music From Big Pink album; when I heard that song in my head I always heard Levon Helm singing it!”
It also has some of Harrison’s wisest lyrics.
All things must pass
None of life’s strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day
While often interpreted as a statement about the Beatles’ break-up, I think it is much deeper than that. It reflects Harrison’s spirituality and being mindful and present in the “now” because everything is impermanent – even life.
It’s a song that is very meaningful to me today.
Enjoy… until next week.
Note: Several of the quotes above are from an article by Harvey Kubernik that was published in Music Connection.