Friday, November 30, 2001

Musician, film producer and former Beatle George Harrison moved from soft-spoken to absolutely silent yesterday when he passed away from cancer at age 58. Earlier reports that Harrison was "dying of embarrasment" over the hack production of his last few records by ex-ELO guitarist Jeff Lynn are now presumed to be less than totally accurate.

Many Beatle fans ranked Harrison down with Ringo in terms of talent. I probably thought the same, but I was wrong. That started to dawn on me in the late 1970s and 80s when Harrison's Handmade Films produced a string of interesting flicks like The Life of Brian, Time Bandits and Mona Lisa. Anyone who can succeed creativity in multiple fields derserves a second look.

Being bored to tears with the eight Beatle songs played over and over on radio stations everywhere, I went back and listened to their albums with fresh ears. Finally, Harrison's contributions - both songwriting and playing - stood out to me (oddly enough, so did Ringo's playing). Though he was only 19 when the band hit the big time, Harrison knew how to play what was needed when it was needed. He didn't take pompus, indulgent solos. He supported the song rather than overshadow it.

My suggestion? We stop calling him The Quiet Beatle and start remembering him as The Tasteful One.

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