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35 Years Ago: George Harrison Releases Self-Titled Album

Dark Horse

Feb. 20, 1979 was a celebratory day for loyal Beatles fans, nearly a decade beyond the group’s dissolution, because it signaled the release of George Harrison’s first album in more than two years.

What’s more, the self-titled LP coincided with a particularly idyllic period, marked with personal stability and happiness resulting from his second marriage (to Olivia Trinidad Arias Harrison) and the birth of his son, Dhani, the past August. Indeed, so good was life for the former Fab, some may have wondered whether he would ever bother returning to public life, never mind writing and recording new music. He was the quiet one after all.

But not even the press-averse, multi-hobbyist Harrison (then busy forming HandMade Films with the Monty Python team, among other projects) could refuse the call of his muse forever, and so he had eventually set to work at his home studio at Friar Park in early-’78, leisurely assembling what would become ‘George Harrison’ — the album — with the help of celebrity friends like Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton, plus co-producer Russ Titelman and songwriter Gary Wright (of ‘Dream Weaver’ fame). What emerged was a crystallized sonic reflection of Harrison’s blissful (if hard-won) frame of mind, via gentle fare like ‘Love Comes to Everyone,’ ‘Your Love is Forever,’ and beloved lead single, ‘ Blow Away.’

Another interesting quality of ‘George Harrison’ was how its songs bridged past and present with effortless coherence. From the past came ‘Not Guilty’ (a Beatles-era leftover composed during the band’s infamous Indian sojourn) and ‘Here Comes the Moon’ (a lyrical sequel to his own ‘Here Comes the Sun’); from the present, ‘Soft-Hearted Hana’ (which boasted background sounds captured at Harrison’s local pub) and ‘Faster’ (likewise inspired and soundtracked by his obsession with Formula 1 racing). In all, most of these songs may not have generated enough rock and roll swagger and excitement for some critics, but they suited Harrison’s fans just fine, by and large.

So sad, then, that of course it couldn’t last, because new trials, both trivial and significant, lay just around the corner — none more painful or traumatic than John Lennon’s assassination, barely two years in the future. In that respect, ‘George Harrison’ could well be seen as the last exhaled breath of innocence before that tragedy draped a black shroud over Harrison and the Beatles’ technicolor dream, forever more.

Next: Top 10 George Harrison Songs

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