don't go around from day to day thinking, "I am George Harrison from the Beatles." I try to balance my life with peace and quiet because the other side of it is really rowdy. I'm a Pisces. I am an extreme person. One half is always going down where the other half has just been. I was always extremely up or extremely down, extremely spiritual or extremely drugged. Now there is a bit of maturity. I have brought the two closer to the middle. I don't get too far up or too far down, and that feels good.
I started out at fourteen, fifteen. I met Paul and John, and we played in little events until 1960, when we started to do better and sought to do it professionally. Then we had the mania, and I had a solo career. Actually, I had little careers going on on the side, like my involvement with Indian music and Ravi Shankar. I have lots of hobbies. I love gardens. The Beatles was such a big part, but I didn't want it to be the end of my life. "In 1964, we came to America. We went out in 1969, and that is the end of the story." Actually, it is a continuing story. "Here today, gone to Maui."
There is a lot of renewed interest in the Beatles because of the CD releases, and this "Twenty Years Ago for Sgt. Pepper," but there will always be periods when the Beatles sell again. In the Seventies, there was a period, and now another one in the Eighties. I think it happens with each generation. I saw it happen with my own boy. I didn't tell him anything about the Beatles, and then one day he suddenly said, "Hey, Dad, can you show me the piano riff to 'Bulldog'?"
I thought, "How the hell did he even hear such an obscure tune?" And then I realized that when all kids get to be five and six, they watch Yellow Submarine. As they get older, they somehow discover the Beatles. It has an everlasting quality.
There was a magic chemistry that happened between us and somehow it got into the grooves on those records. Not every song we ever did was brilliant, but a lot of them are timeless, great songs that happen to have a chemistry in the grooves which appeals to each generation as it grows up.
It was sad when we broke up because we had been so close for so long. Mick Jagger said at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame dinner that the Beatles were a four-headed monster. We never went anywhere without each other. We shared all the miseries, and the isolation of limos, hotels, planes, and concert halls, which is all we ever saw for years.
Like Jagger said at the Hall of Fame dinner, "I would like to think we are still friends because those were some of the best times of my life." And that is true.
The saddest thing was actually getting fed up with one another. It's like growing up in a family. When you get to a certain age, you want to go off and get your own girl and your own house, split up a bit. At the same time, for me it gave me the perfect chance to do my own records. I didn't have many tunes on Beatles records, so doing an album like All Things Must Pass was like going to the bathroom and letting it out.
Some of my solo records didn't do so well, which was OK. Paul feels more like he has to be a success all the time, but for me I had such ego satisfaction through the Beatles period. We had more fame than anybody could imagine, so when some of my solo records didn't sell, it didn't really matter to me. As an example, Ringo once said to me, "I have to have a Number 1."
I said, "You don't have to have a Number 1. You want to be number one. The record is second." I say, if you set yourself up looking for success, when you have a failure, you fall much deeper. I say, bring the two together. As Bob Dylan said, "When you find out you are at the top, you are at the bottom."
The Concert For Bangladesh happened because of my relationship with Ravi. He is such a humble person. He said, "I am going to do this show. Maybe, if you or Peter Sellers or both of you can come on and do something or announce something, maybe we can make $25,000 and do something about this terrible war."
I said, "If you want me to be involved, I think I'd better be really involved," so I started recruiting all these people. It was difficult at first, but once it got closer to the show I had commitments from so many people that some had to be turned down. Everybody wanted to be in it.
Mainly the concert was to attract attention to the situation that was happening at one time. The money we raised was secondary, and although we had some problems because Allen Klein had not been handling it right, they still got plenty of money, even though it was a drop in the ocean. The main thing was, we spread the word and helped get the war ended. Little Bengali waiters in Indian restaurants still come up to me and say, "When we were fighting in the jungle, it was so great to know there was someone out there supporting us."
The Concert for Bangladesh was just a moral stance. These kinds of things have grown over the years, but what we did showed the musicians and people are more humane than politicians. Today people accept the commitment rock 'n' roll musicians have when they perform for a charity. When I did it, they said things like, "He's only doing this to be nice."
Writing with Jeff Lynne is really the first time I've ever written with anyone. I wrote one tune with Dylan back in '69. I wrote one with Eric Clapton. I've helped Ringo finish songs. But I'm not the type of songwriter that says, "Let's sit down and write." Every Beatles album that had a song of mine on it I wrote alone. John and Paul had been writing so much together. Once in a while I got a line from John when I was stuck. But at the same time I gave them lyrics. I helped out on "Eleanor Rigby." I wrote some of the lyric to "Come Together."
Of my songs, "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something" are probably the biggest. Frank Sinatra, who sings it with his "Stick around, Jack," says "Something" is the greatest love song of all time. He used to say it was the greatest love song of the year. Then the decade. So what he's saying now is very nice. At last count, which was years ago, there were 140 covers of "Something." Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles. My personal favorite is the version by James Brown. It was one of his B sides. I have it on my jukebox at home. It's absolutely brilliant. "Taxman" was done not too long ago by Berry Gordy's son, so I've done all right.
You can take the Beatles separately and analyze all their energy, but when you put them together astrologically and chemically, something stronger takes place that even the Beatles never understood. As Dylan said, "To understand you know too soon there is no sense in trying." Dylan is so brilliant. To me, he makes William Shakespeare look like Billy Joel.
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