Swinging Modern Sounds #83: On George


There really is not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t stop at some moment and think about George Harrison. With the rerelease of Sgt. Pepper, and the commencement of the Sirius/XM Beatles channel, likewise the appearance of the Beatles catalogue on Spotify, we are at another moment when the four lads from Liverpool have again had a refreshing opportunity to make an impact on contemporary music.

Recently, I contributed to an anthology on the subject (In Their Lives, edited by Andrew Blauner, Blue Rider Press), and in the aftermath of publication, I had a chance to appear on The Fab Fourum, a call-in talk show on Sirius/XM about the Beatles, co-hosted by Bill Flanagan, an author, producer, and general Beatles fanatic, and Dennis Elsas, a Tri-State area radio personality of many decades. What an honor to be on the show, and to hear, for example, Petula Clark call in and tell the story of turning up at John and Yoko’s celebrated bed-in. And there was this, too: on the way into the Sirius studios, while waiting at the reception area, I got into a conversation with the receptionist, who was doing her job while the Beatles channel played from the sound system above her. It was all Beatles for weeks, she said, and she further admitted that she had never really heard the band before the launch of their channel, except maybe a song here and there. Now she’d had a real chance to learn about them. Her favorite song, so far, was “Yellow Submarine.”

As no amount of Beatles listening happens in my immediate vicinity without that I go off on a long internal appreciation of the role played in the Beatles by George Harrison, even this strange and poignant admission was just a further occasion of same. There are a lot of things to say about George that have been said in the media—that he was the quiet Beatle, that he was the spiritual Beatle, and so on—but not enough has been said, really, nor can be said, about his distinctive musical gifts, so often on display, even on tracks on which he didn’t write or sing. The little fusillade of guitar solo after the choruses on “Got to Get You into My Life,” for example; the sitar solo on “Norwegian Wood;” the burst of guitar noise at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever;” the twelve-string he deployed so well in the mid-’60s; the slide he deployed so well later on; the synthesizer flourishes on Abbey Road, and so on. He served the song, as a player, and didn’t bother about how much credit he was getting for it, until the very end of the Beatles journey, when his own compositions really took off. The contributions by George from Revolver to Abbey Road are all singular, and at times, monumental. (“Taxman,” “Within You Without You,” “It’s All Too Much,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Blue Jay Way,” “Long Long Long,” “Something,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “I Me Mine.”) He wrote less frequently than Paul and John, but when he wanted to, he could really uncork a masterpiece. And that was the case until his death. Check out “Marwa Blues,” from his posthumous Brainwashed, if you want an example of a masterpiece from the very end of his life. And while you’re at it, there’s an amazing Spotify playlist available of songs by George Harrison chosen by his son Dhani. It’s a sly, idiosyncratic selection that leans heavily into George’s most unusual pieces, and his most spiritual moments, and is a great place to start for those of you who have not yet plundered the Harrison oeuvre.

The fact of his encounter with Indian culture—both musical and spiritual—seems to have catalyzed him in every way. If the purpose of life is to get better at being who we are, George seems to have succeeded at life in every way. He became humbler, more effective, and more powerful as a musician the less hard he tried to be a career musician, and less he dwelt on his legacy as a Beatle. Cloud Nine and Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 came about after he had been largely written off as a commercial force, and each had a real impact. They are funny, melodic, and moving albums. Never pretentious, but always surprising. Harrison was not, after a point, interested in being a possession of the popular culture, but the irony is, for me, that his refusal to participate in the mechanics of the music industry only made him more heroic. He did what he did—favoring Indian music, rock and roll from the fifties, truly original slide guitar playing, ukulele songs—without regard for what others would think, and in the process really became adept at the free and self-determined approach to life. For me, his is a really satisfying career to look at in retrospect, every piece of it, from his demos to his collaborations with Ravi Shankar, to his work with the guys from Liverpool.

I thought it would be fun to talk with Bill Flanagan from the Sirius XM Beatles chat show Fab Fourum about what he knew and remembered about George, and to see if we could settle some of the burning questions that the hardcore Beatles fans still ask about George. Bill’s long and storied career in and around the music business includes time as the editor of Musician magazine (1985–1995) and at MTV Networks (1995–2015) where he created and produced VH1 Storytellers, CMT Crossroads, and many other music series. He was also a producer on the Concert for New York City after 9/11. He has written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Spy, Men’s Journal, GQ, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Slate, and elsewhere. He’s currently host of four radio shows on Sirius XM (Flanagan’s Wake, Northern Songs, Fab Fourum, and Written in My Soul).

We lobbed this exchange back and forth by email in late June.


Bill Flanagan: When did you begin to distinguish between the four Beatles?

The Rumpus: I think I definitely did not think of them as distinguishable for the entirety of the period they were together. I thought of them as a single recording entity. As you know, I was only nine when they broke up, and it was easy, at that young age, to think of them as a recording entity without individual people with their individual perspectives. Even with Abbey Road, which was the first album that I laboriously pored over (not the last, by any means, but the first), I still thought of the whole as though the four people agreed on every detail, that John loved George’s synthesizers, and everyone thought “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was astounding. And the purpose of the whole was achieved through some weird absolute unanimity. It never occurred to me that there would be disagreement, and/or enmity or disaffiliation.

I think maybe I didn’t legitimately distinguish between them until I went away to private school in the mid-’70s, where, on afternoons loafing around listening to LPs, I was in a position bear down on the lyrics, and to compare Beatles lyrics to Beatles solo albums and their compositions. I remember, e.g., buying Walls and Bridges in those days and being really not interested much (except for “#9 Dream,” which I love!), and the same with Extra Texture. And, of course, Wings at the Speed of Sound. By then, it was hard not to think of them as distinguishable, and to see the divergent strategies and themes of the solo Beatles. And by then I had my thing about George, my feeling of consonance with the mission of George. My stepmother had All Things Must Pass on LP, and somewhere in 1973 or 1974 I started listening to the whole of that album, which had hitherto just been a few very good radio singles.

How about you? I know you were ahead of me a few years, so did you feel, for example, the friction of 1969–1970 among the Beatles when you were listening then?

Flanagan: No, I didn’t. Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour were joyful and the White Album was deep and dark and Abbey Road was a sleek and beautiful machine but it was only in retrospect that people started saying they saw the fault lines. I don’t remember anyone saying it when those albums appeared.

I was nine in ’64, the year of Ed Sullivan and Beatlemania, and part of the appeal of the Beatles was that it immediately felt like the human race was divided into two groups—the Beatles and everyone else. We all wanted to get onto the Beatles side of the divide as quickly as possible. My brother and sister and I hung their pictures on the bedroom wall and the teenage daughter of my father’s friend came over and said George was the best looking. I said, “I thought Paul was the best looking?” and she said, “Paul looks like a girl.” That made an impression on me. From then on I thought, “I guess George is the handsome one.”

For the first few six months at least, Ringo was the Beatle everyone knew by name. It was Ringo and his three straight men. That dynamic continued through the Beatles’ movies and the Saturday morning cartoon series. If the Beatles were on TV, adults would always ask which one was Ringo.

When A Hard Day’s Night came out that summer we began to get a sense of the four different personalities. You have to hand it to director Richard Lester and Liverpool screenwriter Alun Owen. They spent a few days with the Beatles on tour in France and came away with a pretty great shorthand version of the four of them. There is a fine book of conversations between Steven Soderbergh and Richard Lester called Getting Away with It in which the two directors talk about what a terrific natural actor George Harrison was. Ringo got the attention but George nailed every line he was given. The scene in which George stumbles into an ad agency and upsets the guy planning the next teenage campaign might be the best in the film.

Rumpus: I had noted the Lester comments recently, as well. I am often interested in the way that salient experiences of youth return later slightly modified, and maybe it’s possible that George had a really agreeable time working on the Lester films, and that helped him along the way to having his own film studio later on.

The reason for this conversation comes from a completely different direction, perhaps, and that is a note on the Wikipedia page about George that seems to indicate that George and Paul got on each other’s nerves. This seemed inexplicable to me somehow, and didn’t (and doesn’t) square with the George that has been created and nurtured in the public over the years. Such that I wanted to talk to an expert about the Beatles to see how, if in any way, George and Paul disliking each other could be inscribed in the music of the Beatles, etc.

My own personal story, in answer to your original question, is that the George of All Things Must Pass and Living in the Material World which I first took note of, as I say, through the singles, somehow created the George that I first was interested in, the passionately engaged spiritual version of George. The same George, e.g., who has a bit of Hare Krishna chanting at the tail end of the last track on his posthumously released Brainwashed. The same George who produced Ravi Shankar’s Chants of India. Is it possible that this George Harrison could have been difficult to deal with?

I have watched what I can of the famous Twickenham film studios argument between Paul and George, which doesn’t really seem to be that much of an argument, more the kind of minor scrape that any band in the studio will occasionally get into.

Was the problem more of a Paul kind of a problem?

Or is the problem that we, the audience, are not calibrated in such a way as to be able to embrace the complexity of these musicians we like, such that even the spiritual and quiet George Harrison is capable of being, you know, passive aggressive, puckish, opinionated, or even irritating on occasion?

Flanagan: I should first say that I can only speak to the personalities of the Beatles as a fan and longtime observer. I don’t claim any special insights. There is no question at all that George was a lifelong spiritual seeker, that he took it very seriously, and that he was genuinely committed to working toward attaining transcendence. This is a man who, when a madman was stabbing him repeatedly, tried to calm himself and prepare for the transition to death. We are grateful that George’s wife Olivia took a different approach and smashed the attacker over the head with a vase.

George was sincerely and profoundly spiritual. He was also a human being who spent his youth playing loud rock n roll in sailor’s bars in tough port cities, who indulged in sex and drugs and alcohol, and who made his living in show business. He was not a monk. He was a smart, assertive, and—when he had to be—tough character.

Like any artist, his work reflected his highest aspirations. Like any artist, he did not stay up there all the time.

I’m sure the Beatles sometimes got on each other’s nerves, like any family, like any small group under great pressure for a sustained period. No doubt the Yellow Submarine sometimes felt like Das Boot. But I am very sure that they loved each other, too.

As you say, the Let It Be argument between Paul and George is pretty low-key. It was no doubt magnified because cameras were shooting it. Like any youngest brother, George was sensitive about being condescended to. I’ll bet what pissed George off was Paul saying in a whisper, “I’m just trying to help you, man.” That kind of Wally-talks-to-Beaver approach could ruin any Thanksgiving dinner.

On the other hand, Paul was trying to make a great Beatles record under awkward circumstances. It was his job to say, “That bit isn’t working.”

Allen Klein, the business manager who took over the affairs of John, George and Ringo at the end of the’60s—and who Paul did not like or trust—once told me a story. In the Beatles’ last days Allen was with John, George, and Ringo when they got word that Paul had made a legal move (it might have been having their collective assets frozen, I don’t remember) that sent the other three Beatles into a rage. Allen made the mistake of trying to join in. He said something like, “That fuckin’ McCartney!” The other three immediately turned on him and Ringo angrily told him, “Don’t you ever say anything against Paul!” That suggests family to me.

Rumpus: The Allen Klein story is great. And moving. Somewhere I read recently that part of rapprochement between George and Paul during George’s final illness involved George counseling Paul to let go of the Yoko problem, and to normalize the relationship with her. I find this terribly moving as well. Similarly, I have read that George’s final stay for treatment on the West Coast was at Paul’s place in LA. I don’t know if it’s true, but this speaks to the potential for growth among these Beatles, over the course of their lifetimes, and as such, to me, it serves as a ratification of the spiritual principles that we commonly ascribe to George.

You mention George’s being younger than Paul. Maybe the issue here is the long history between these men and the fact that at the time that George joined the Beatles he really was younger than the others in a way that was more significant as a portion of life lived. Fourteen, as opposed to fifteen, let’s say.

I was listening to the Live at Hollywood Bowl album not long ago, and I marveled at the George tracks, “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” which are real rock and roll songs, and bespeak the nature of George’s early role in the band, conservator of the rock and roll impulse in the Beatles songbook, as opposed to skiffle, or R&B.

But the truth is that his maturation from that period (1964–65) onward was immense. George, the guy who got to sing a song about how much traffic he was getting from women, went on within one year to writing “Taxman,” “Love You To,” and “I Want to Tell You,” among others. For me, coming into the story in midstream, “Only a Northern Song” and “I Want to Tell You,” not to mention “All Too Much,” had a real impact. Just as much of an impact as “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and “She Said, She Said.”

So he was already playing the sitar, and using dissonance in the popular song, and changing tempos and time signatures (on “Love You To”) in a pop song. And he’d only started writing songs a couple of years before. As if the “dark horse” thing, the young Beatle, the quiet Beatle, was a reputation that he was exceedingly eager to disprove.

Flanagan: I believe it is true that George passed away in a house Paul owned. Evidence of how deep that bond was. I’m not sure it would be fair to suggest that George and Paul had a big falling out and gradually worked toward reconciliation. I think they were bound together from the time they were teenagers and over fifty years they had ups and downs. The Beatles ended as a band in 1970 but they remained business partners. They had annual Apple board meetings, they had to jointly approve of reissues and new compilations and documentaries and licensing Beatles songs to films and a million other requests. Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia still do. As Mick Jagger pointed out when he was asked why the Stones never disbanded, after a certain point you can’t break up; you are bound together forever in a dozen ways. Jagger said, the only thing you can stop doing together is making music and that is the fun part.

One of my favorite Beatles stories is that in the 1990s George fell in love with Cirque du Soleil and decided they should do a Beatles theatrical presentation. Paul and Ringo needed to be convinced, so the three of them went to a Cirque show in disguise. As George expected, Paul and Ringo were knocked out and gave approval for what became The Beatles’ LOVE show. It’s fun to picture some tourist sitting in the audience and looking to his left and thinking, “Gee, those three guys in the funny hats and glasses sure look familiar…”

I am grateful that they finished The Beatles Anthology before George got sick. The footage of Paul, George, and Ringo—all in their fifties—sitting in the garden playing ukuleles is a poignant last public portrait of the Beatles. They were the only members of the most exclusive club in the world.

Rumpus: I really love the ukulele footage from the Anthology, as well. The rumor I have heard is that George wasn’t one hundred percent sold on the Anthology project, but it was at a sort of bad spot after he had lost some money in the movies, etc., and felt like it would relieve some financial pressure, which it assuredly did. What do you think of “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love?” I have read many of the criticisms thereof—for example, Ozzy Osbourne saying that those tracks sounded more like ELO than the Beatles. I believe even George said something like “I hope somebody does this to all my crap demos when I’m dead.” Which remark certainly has the tart, no-bullshit quality that George favored on occasion.

Despite all the armchair quarterbacking about the Anthology tracks, I really like those songs, and especially “Free as a Bird.” I really love the wallop of George’s slide on it, and I like the classic Beatles back and forth between John and Paul, and I like the false ending. I really think the video is lovely. And: it has occurred to me now and again how I often underestimate John’s later lyrics, like from Walls and Bridges onward. There are little nuances of complexity in a lot of those songs, in “Watching the Wheels,” for example, which is more melancholy than empowered, or so it seems to me. And on “Free as a Bird” the line “is the next best thing to be” is so brilliant and counterintuitive. You could make a case for “Free as a Bird” being an allegory about John waking up from the Lost Weekend period, and going home to Yoko, I think. But the title and the refrain feel quaint or affirmational until you bear down on the lyric, as with those little nuances that John inscribed into the backing vocals on Sgt. Pepper, “it’s getting better all the time/can’t get no worse,” or the invocations of Wilson and Heath on “Taxman.”

Self-evidently, “new” Beatles material was never going to compare favorably, not a chance in the world, and I thought they worked hard at the two new songs, and they were good solo era Beatles tracks. And because of my affection for what George always brought to the table I was interested in how up-front he was on “Free as a Bird.”

Unless I miss my guess, you interviewed George around about the time of the Anthology. Or I have seen remarks to that effect? Is that true? Any recollections?

Flanagan: I agree with you, Rick. “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” are solid Lennon solo songs given a great boost by Paul, George, and Ringo. How could anything live up to the legend of the Beatles after twenty-five years? They did another song, you know, for Anthology 3 but in the end decided not to release it. Paul coined a term for the reaction to the first two reunion songs—”Anticipointment.” The expectations were impossible. The Beatles could have released “A Day in the Life” and people would have said it wasn’t good enough.

I have heard that George jokingly said to Paul and Ringo, “Hey, when I die will you two do this for me?” but I think it was just a wisecrack. He might have said “crap demos” but that’s not the way I heard it.

I don’t know anything about George’s financial status at the time of Anthology but the project was underway for decades, from very soon after the Beatles broke up. Apple Corps chief (and Beatles consigliere) Neil Aspinall was always gathering material for the project, which was provisionally titled The Long and Winding Road. In fact, I just learned something from my friend Tom Frangione at the Beatles Channel. In the late 70s the Beatles sued to shut down the Broadway show Beatlemania and Lennon gave a deposition in which he stated that having fake Beatles performing on stage was bad for the real Beatles, because they had a retrospective film documentary under way and their plan was to end it with the four Beatles reuniting and performing together for the first time in years.

It’s unclear if this was more than a vague “Yeah, that’s what we’ll do someday” plan, and we don’t know if they intended to perform for an audience or simply do a couple of songs for the cameras. Maybe it would have been four Beatles playing ukuleles on the lawn. But Anthology was not something that came up quickly—it was a twenty-five-year project.

I interviewed George for Musician magazine in 1992. More significant is that I produced what turned out to be his final public performance, a 1997 VH1 TV special called George Harrison & Ravi Shankar: Yin & Yang. It’s a funny story. I was an executive at VH1 and one morning I got a call from a record label executive who said, “George Harrison has produced Ravi Shankar’s new album and the two of them are sitting here in my office. Would you guys like to do something with them?” I said, “Yes, of course, can the two of them come over to our studio in an hour or so?” There was some chatter on the other end of the line and I was asked what I wanted them to do if they came by. I said, “Let’s just wing it—if we get two minutes of good material we’ll do a news brief. If we get ten minutes we’ll do three news briefs; if we get an hour we’ll do a special. No need to put any pressure on it—let’s see how it goes.” They said, “Okay, but don’t ask George to perform.” I said, “Sure.”

Now I had to scramble to clear out our studio and I had to make sure there was a crew on site and that we had a host. John Fugelsang was a smart VH1 host who knew a lot about the Beatles. We were lucky that John was either in the building or nearby. He was up for improvising.

An hour later we were all waiting by the studio door when George and Ravi showed up. Ravi had a sitar and to our delight, George was followed by a young woman carrying an acoustic guitar case. We nudged each other and whispered, “George brought a guitar!” We set up quickly—I’m not sure we even had a makeup person—and began. The conversation went beautifully. Fugelsang did a terrific job. They covered George’s discovery of Indian music, the Maharishi, the Concert for Bangladesh, and lots more. Ravi played sitar. Finally, I asked if George would pick up the guitar and play a song. He looked surprised but said okay. He took the guitar and played four songs. By this time word had gotten around that there was a Beatle in the building and folks from VH1 were slipping into the room. My memory is that by the time George performed there were about twenty-five people in the room but Fugelsang insists there were fifty or sixty. He might be right. That turned out to be George Harrison’s final public performance.

Here’s the punch line. When we had wrapped, I said to George how glad I was that he decided to bring a guitar with him after all. We did not expect him to perform. George said, “I never saw that guitar before in my life.” It turned out that he didn’t know the young woman who followed him in from the street carrying the guitar. She was stopping by to see a friend who worked at VH1 and decided when she saw what was going on to stick around and watch. I had ambushed George into playing. I am glad I did.

Rumpus: Bill, here’s a link to a Washington Post piece with the “crap demos” citation, so either the Post didn’t fact check that day, or, maybe, it’s a genuine remark.

I listened to “Grow Old with Me,” and the “Real Love” demo today, and they are really tender and powerful, I think. I remember that in the Playboy interview John remarks that he doesn’t think he’s such a great writer of melodies. Then you encounter recordings like this, and it’s clear what an effortless and tremendous writer of melodies he really was. Both songs give off the veneer of simplicity (and especially with the rudimentary strumming on the “Real Love” demo), but then the way the melodies move around the chords is so satisfying. John had some range when he wanted to, as a singer, and I think that makes the melodic journey more interesting somehow.

It’s interesting that the Post article seems to indicate that George had a pivotal role in the early inquiry into the existence of the Lennon demos, and the possibility of the remaining Beatles recording with them. Of course, on the Beatles boards there are many interesting discussions as to whose handwriting was on the cassette labeled “For Paul” when Yoko Ono ultimately turned over the demos to Paul. Some people seem to think it was John’s handwriting, and some people think it was Yoko’s.

And: there’s one resourceful guy who has attempted to engineer from existing samples a version of “Grow Old with Me” that includes input from all four (and includes George Martin’s string arrangement).

I had a good weep over your “All Things Must Pass,” from your interview. I’d watched that footage back when George died, but I hadn’t seen it in a long time. But you really preserved an amazing moment. It’s one of those performances that really lingers in the mind. I’d feel good about my professional life if I had been part of that piece of tape. And there’s one of those spooky penetrating George moments in the last chorus where the import of the lyric really rises up out of the casual, I-just-borrowed-this-guitar treatment. Really moving.

I’m wondering if you guys on the radio show talked about the instrumental version of “Within You Without You,” first take, from the extras disc of the new Sgt. Pepper. I am so moved by that recording. Feels like one of those Brian Wilson conducting-the-strings moments of insight into a recording.

When people talk about the album they sometimes seem suggest that George was detached during Sgt. Pepper, or that the atomization of the later Beatles was already underway, and he just didn’t have room for his vision of things on that album. But I truly think “Within You Without You” is a masterpiece, even the lyrics, which come in for some carping now and again (without merit, in my view). If all he did on Sgt. Pepper was work on that song, he did something genuinely important. The Indian recording is beautiful, especially the solo in the middle, the relationship between the sitar and the string arrangement, so incredible. And I feel like the spooky quality of the whole seeds the field for “A Day in the Life” later on the album. (I feel like “Fixing a Hole” does the same thing, by foreshadowing the “holes” theme in “A Day in the Life.”)

George’s engagement with Indian music wasn’t haphazard, or faddish, something that he went through ephemerally, and your interview with Shankar proves the same. He continued to engage with it through the whole of his adult life. For me, among the most important of his posthumous releases was the box set of collaborations with Shankar. I still listen to that work a lot. In fact, I probably listen to Chants of India as much as anything George recorded after 33 1/3, except for the Wilburys records…

Flanagan: I have to thank you, Rick, for getting me to go back and view the George and Ravi program. Once I have wrapped a show I almost never look at it again. It was very moving to sit and watch this, twenty years later. I was startled to hear my voice from off camera suggesting (I am afraid it sounds like “ordering”) George play “All Things Must Pass.” He does it with such good humor and attention to detail. It is a different song now that George and so many other heroes and friends are gone. We were kids when we heard it for the first time and the greatest tragedy we could imagine was a rock band breaking up. That was what we thought it was about. Now we’re at the other end of life and what is passing really is all things.

We have talked on the Beatles Channel about the instrumental “Within You Without You.” (In fact, I use it as the bed music of my other Beatles radio show, Northern Songs.) It’s a revelation. It is neither Indian or Western; it’s a fresh synthesis. I remember Elvis Costello saying after he attended the memorial Concert for George at the Albert Hall that when you heard a wide selection of George’s music together, performed by different artists, what was striking was the clarity and distinctiveness of his musical vocabulary. Harrison was always fudging the lines between notes and scales, whether in his Indian explorations or his use of slide guitar or his chording or even his approach to blues. He heard more than six notes. Imagine that day in 1965 on the set of Help! when he heard the Indian musicians playing their instruments and was shaken. He recognized a sound that had been in his head his whole life. He found what he was looking for—which in turn set him on a lifelong search.


Let’s give George the closing statement:

It may sound like a lofty thing to say on VH1 but basically, what are we doing on this planet? Through the Beatles experience we grew so many years in a short period of time and experienced so many things and met so many people, but I realized nothing was giving me a buzz anymore. I remember thinking I’d love to meet somebody who’d really impress me. I don’t mean somebody like Burt Lancaster, because he was in a movie. I met Burt Lancaster and he impressed me on that level, but I meant somebody who could really impress me. And that’s when I met Ravi, which was funny because he’s this little fella with an obscure instrument from our point of view and yet it led me into such depths. That’s the most important thing. It still is for me. I get confused when I look around at the world and I see everybody’s running around and as Bob Dylan said, “He not busy being born is busy dying,” yet nobody’s trying to figure out what’s the cause of death and what happens when you die. That to me is the only thing really that’s of any importance. The rest is all secondary.


Feature image of George Harrison via Creative Commons.

Rick Moody is the author of six novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and a volume of essays, On Celestial Music. His most recent publication is Hotels of North America, a novel. With Kid Millions of Oneida, he recently released the album The Unspeakable Practices (Joyful Noise recordings). More from this author →