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A Few Words About George

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Rolling Stone magazine's Harrison Tribute
by Olivia Harrison, January 2002

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The silence of George's absence in our lives is deafening. Although he often renounced his role as an entertainer, my life with him was never boring. There were many comedies and a few tragedies, but, most of all, deep love for all living things. He was a warrior who faced life's battles with extraordinary courage. In the words of Bob Dylan, "He had the strength of a hundred men." The power of his convictions was as strong as a hundred men, all right. As Arjuna asked Krishna for guidance on the battlefield, so George faced the many battles before him with spiritual courage and unwavering conviction.

Our son, Dhani, and I, like George's friends, were spoiled by his rich and loving presence: from the morning wake up call, which could have been (depending on our location and mood) a morning raga, a Vedic chant, a Mozart concerto, Cab Calloway's "Bugle Call Rag", or Hoagy's earliest instrumental version of "Stardust", to the day's final tune, maybe whistled on his way to bed and which I would wake up in the morning singing. He loved planting the seed of the song and would sometimes whistle a tune I disliked just to see if he could get it rolling around in my head. After I would complain about it, he'd say, "Okay, here's one to replace it," and whistle another.

All senses were satisfied as incense blew in the morning breeze, mingling with the stream from hot cups of tea. If he stepped out the door for a breath of morning air, he always returned with a flower or leaf that would hae gone unnoticed by everyone else, in the same way many among us would have gone unnoticed were it not for his ability to "see" the true person inside the bodily form. He always went straight to the heart of a person, and that ability extended to any subject or matter or work before him. His ability to penetrate to the core gave him, as he put it, "a different slant, a different patter," than anyone I ever knew.

George said he felt closest to God in nature, and some may assumed his passion as a landscape gardener was founded solely on his immense love and knowledge of plants as well as his extraordinary vision. But the driving force was his desire to know God. "If there is a God, we must see Him; if there is a soul, we must perceive it. Otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite," as he used to remind us! Though he often quoted spiritual greats in this way, George did not, contrary to popular belief, "belong" to any spiritual organization, although many claimed him as their own. George also said, "He who tells all that he knows, tells more than he knows." This usually applied to those who declared they knew the very private George's innermost beliefs. In fact, his spiritual knowledge and experience was many faceted. Still, he managed to dive deep to the heart of each pratice, never content to skim the surface. He embraced the essence of all religions although he had little patience for organized religions or dogma that espoused guilt, sin, or mystery. For George, there was no mystery and he would gladly spend hours discussing God with an interested person- and some not so interested!

He was so deep, and I for one was at times guilty of indolence- probably because I knew that the tide of his devotion was so strong that I could ride those currents with him toward our shared goal of God conscious. Now, without him, we all have more paddling to do.

George left the world his uniquely beautiful melodies, and some of them were barely born, played once, maybe. Every Dictaphone or tape machine in the house was found with a cassette inside bearing the beginning of a new song, some on piano, ukulele, or guitar, some with hysterically funny words, some with fiercely serious lyrics, but all crafted from creativity he knew to be a divine gift.

Besides the company, conversation and wisdom of my beloved friend, I already long for the live background music to our lives. If I began singing a song- any song- he would accompany and encourage me. If I played three chords on the uke (compulsory instrument in our home), he would be my band. George was so generous and "grateful to anyone that is happy or free." A good moment to him was always worth making better.

I love you, George. The joys, sorrows, lessons, and love we shared are more than enough to fill my heart until we meet again.