THE BEATLESÂ “Lady Madonna”Â b/wÂ “The Inner Light” (Capitol Records #2138,Â March 1968)
As much as I loved John, the one I really miss is George.Â With his quiet inner peacefulness, sly sense of humor andÂ brilliantly innovative guitar licks ranging fromÂ bumble-bee stingingÂ to waterfall fluid,Â NO ONE, before or since, epitomized English cool like George Harrison.Â Every hip Brit act in recent memory, from The Jam to Oasis to ArcticÂ Monkeys, has featured at least one George look/act/sound-alike in their lineup.Â As a high school freshman, I noticed, while paging through my gargantuan tome of World History text, that The Beatles were the only rock group mentioned by name.Â Why?Â Because of George’s influence, bringing Eastern musical styles into popular Western culture.Â Sa-NAP! One-Song-Per-Album-Side, my ass;Â aÂ Quiet One shall lead them, ladies and gentlemen.
A gorgeous two-and-a-quarter-minute blast of Fats Domino-inspired barrelhouse boogie-woogie piano,Â 1930’s-style TinÂ Pan Alley vocal chimesÂ and honking Ronnie Scott sax, Lennon & McCartney’s (well, mostly McCartney’s) “Lady Madonna” was the final Beatles single to be released in the U.S. on the Capitol Records.Â Their remainingÂ six official 45s, beginning with “Hey Jude” in August of ’68,Â would bear the imprint of their newfoundÂ corporation (soon to become a downward-spiraling tornado of bad finances), Apple.Â EnjoyÂ the rideÂ while it lasts, boys.
Recorded by George with a host of Indian musicians (plus John & Paul on backing vocals for good measure), the Tao-inspired “The Inner Light” was the first Harrison composition to be featured on a Beatles single.Â Surprising in retrospect, considering how great “Taxman” and “If I Needed Someone” were.Â But I’llÂ never forget placing the needle on this record for the very first time as a youngster, and suddenly being transported into another world that I knew must’ve existed somewhere.Â Â Now I had the power to access it, without going out of my door.
EasternÂ sounds areÂ common in Western pop music today, from the pulsating deep-dub club grooves of Thievery Corporation to more radio-friendly acts like Shakira and fist-pumping aggro-rock like System Of A Down.Â But the next time you hear a sitar or tablaÂ somewhere in your mix, take a moment to remember our dearly departed brother George.Â Take a page from his solemn book of quiet dignity, and add it to your repertoire.Â After all, the music George Harrison made was meant for you, to be carried with you, to walk along side you, for a lifetime.
NEXT WEEK: A famousÂ recluse makes a comeback.Â Briefly.