Record #192: George Harrison - Living in the Material World (1973)
In the three years after their break up, it became obvious that none of the Beatles were going anywhere. John got over his weirdness and got back to rock music. Paul responded to the backlash of the homespun McCartney with the incredible Ram, then form Wings. Ringo released a country record (?!?). And after the releasing the sprawling deluge of All Things Must Pass and organizing and recording the massive humanitarian Concert for Bangladesh at the Behest of his mentor Ravi Shankar, George Harrison no longer had anything to prove.
And so, released from needlessly rejected Beatles songs, George turns his eyes upward, creating one of the tenderest, most earnest spiritual albums in rock and roll history. Most often, he is lamenting ignorance (The Light that has Lighted the World), indifference (When the World comes ‘Round), and his place in the world (Be Here Now). When his voice enters in after the classic-George slide guitar riff of Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), it is with a desperate, near cracking plea that matches the lyrics more perfectly than any voice has matched its words in the history of popular music. And throughout the record, his near-cracking voice looks heavenward and asks, “why is everyone blind to what I see so plainly?” And Paul-digging aside (Sue Me, Sue You Blues), he prays without preaching (exception: The Lord Loves the One who Loves the Lord). This is an album between himself and his Sweet Lord. It almost seems like an accident that it was recorded at all.