Monday, February 25, 2008

"They Say It's Your Birthday"*

Today's date marks the day George Harrison was born. I know this not because of some "this day in history" list but because I have known this since 1964. I have no idea why this particular date has stuck in my mind, but I'm sure I've thought of George on February 25th pretty much every year since then. Sure, I was and still am a Beatle freak. But back when every Beatle-lovin' girl was pressured to declare who her favorite Beatle was, George wouldn't have made my top three. But he was in my top four, and if he hadn't had such blatantly British teeth, he might have edged out Ringo.

Things change, of course, and by the time George (I'm on a first-name basis with all of the Fab Four) released The Concert for Bangladesh, I saw his talent for what it was—a passionate expression of a heart that beat for those who suffer. Over the years, my admiration for him continued to grow.

George died of lung cancer in 2001. The following year, on the very day his last CD was released in the UK, I happened to be in Liverpool. I bought the CD that day at a Beatles shop across from the legendary Cavern (or rather, its replacement) and signed a memorial to him at a different Beatles site down by the Mersey. At times, the songs on Brainwashed still make me cry. If you were a Beatles fan, you understand. You may not be able to articulate why you sometimes start crying when you hear certain Beatles songs, but you understand.

George sought peace for others. He would have been 65 today; may he rest in peace.

*For the unBeatled, a lyric from "Birthday," written by John and Paul. It's on the 1968 album The Beatles, which no one knows by that name. We've just always called it The White Album.

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