Living in the George Harrison Material World: A Visit To The Grammy Museum
There has been quite the resurgence of interest in George Harrison of late. All of which is understandable (it’s the 10th anniversary of his death) and deserved (he was always seemed overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney). Harrison has been on the cover of several rock magazines, including Rolling Stone. HBO recently premiered the big Martin Scorsese-directed documentary, Living In The Material World and his widow Olivia Harrison has put together a coffee table book under the same name.
Tied into both the documentary and the book, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has assembled an exhibit, also entitled Living In The Material World. Taking up most of the museum’s second floor, it is filled with some terrific Harrison material, with Harrison songs filling the air and plenty of video footage to watch (although some of it you might have seen in the HBO documentary).
There are plenty of things that you won’t have seen in the documentary. On one wall are framed Harrison handwritten song lyrics, like “Something,” “My Sweet Lord,” and “Living In A Material World,” which was written on an old letter. Another wall holds a Harrison timeline, covering the length of his life – from his childhood to his death. Well, actually past his death. It includes mentions his posthumous release Brainwashed and the Concert for George. In fact, there’s also a nice collection of photos from that benefit concert.
One of the best parts of the exhibit are the several segmented areas that spotlight Harrison’s life as a Beatle, his solo career and his time as a Traveling Wilbury. There are cases stocked with his vintage guitars, colorful clothing and other archival material. Among the really memorably objects are tour buttons, personal journals and, in particular, his childhood autograph book. The book is open to the pages with autographs by Les Paul, Little Richard and skiffle star Lonnie Donegan. You don’t really think that a rock icon used just a young rock fan.
Another fun exhibit feature is the chance to play engineer with the Harrison tune, “Give Me Love,” and adjust the various sound levels to hear how the track was put together.
While the exhibit doesn’t cover all the ground that the nearly 4-hour documentary does, it does house a treasure trove of Harrison memorabilia and conjuring nostalgic memories of a time gone by. It all made me wonder where my All Things Must Pass double 8-track box is now.
– Michael Berick
George Harrison: Living In The Material World, Oct. 11-Feb. 12, Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A. Monday – Friday 11:30am – 7:30pm, Saturday – Sunday 10:00am – 7:30pm. Admission: $12.95, Students (18 and older) and Seniors: $11.95, Youths (6-17) $10.95. www.grammymuseum.org.