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Beatles Interviews Database: George Harrison Interview: Apple Offices, London 10/08/1969
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George Harrison was interviewed at Apple Offices in London on October 8th 1969 by David Wigg. Their conversation would air later that month in two parts on the BBC Radio-One program ‘Scene and Heard.' At the time of this interview, the Abbey Road LP was number one on the album charts, having been released just 12 days earlier.

Wigg would later remember of his meeting with Harrison: "We met at the Apple offices in London... It was an important time for George as he was emerging as a strong songwriting influence. He explained how 'Here Comes The Sun' had come to him while sitting in Eric Clapton's garden, and that 'Something' was for Patti (George's then-wife). He also described what meditation and Hare Krishna meant to him, the Beatles financial problems, and how he came to terms with being a Beatle."

In addition to being a BBC radio personality, David Wigg was also famous for being a columnist for the Daily Express, as well as the London Evening News. In 1976, Wigg would release a double album featuring his interviews with each of the four Beatles, entitled 'The Beatles Tapes.'

                                          - Jay Spangler,

GEORGE: "All I'm doing, I'm acting out the part of Beatle George and, you know, we're all acting out our own parts. The world is a stage and the people are the players. Shakespeare said that. And he's right."

DAVID WIGG: "Do you expect another part, later?"

GEORGE: (giggles) "Oh, many parts. Yes."

DAVID: "Is that why you've come to terms with it?"

GEORGE: "Yes, because you just do whatever you can do. I mean, even if it's being a Beatle for the rest of my life, it's still only a temporary thing. And, I mean really, all we did was get born and live so many years and this is what happened. I got born seemingly to become Beatle George. But it doesn't really matter who you are or what you are, because that's only a temporary sort of tag for a limited sort of period of years."

DAVID: "Do you enjoy it now?"

GEORGE: "It's the same as any job, you know. It's up and down, you know. Life is up and down all the time. And maybe for us it goes up higher but it comes down lower. Relativity. So, you know, if we have a bad time, it's really bad. (laughs) And if we have a good time, maybe it's really good. But it's only the same, you know. It's relativity. So the same law operates for everybody."

DAVID: "Yes."

GEORGE: "It's the same thing like they see showbiz, that thing, and all they think of is, 'Oh, all that money you've got and you've got a big house and car,' and all that sort of thing. But the problems that come along with that are incredible. And I can tell you, everything material that we have, every 100 pounds we've earned, we've got 100 pounds worth of problems to balance it."

DAVID: "Yes."

GEORGE: "It's very ironical in a way, because we've all got, maybe, a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the MONEY that you've earned is virtually impossible. It's like illegal to earn money. Well, not to earn it, it's illegal to keep the money you earn. 'You never give me your money, you only give me your funny paper.' You know, that's what we get. Bits of paper saying how much is earned and what's this and that. But you never actually get it in... uhh..."

DAVID: "...pounds, shillings and pennies."

GEORGE: "Yes. But I think it's another of life's problems that you never actually solve. Oh, it's very difficult to solve and anyway you've just got to, no matter how much money you've got, you can't be happy anyway. So you have to find your happiness with the problems you have and you have to not worry too much about them. And (smiling) Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare."

DAVID: "George, how did you come to record Hare Krishna?" (Radha Krishna Temple, LP produced by George Harrison)

GEORGE: "Because the people from the Radha Krishna Temple were over here since about a year. And I got to know a couple of them, because they were in and out of Apple office. And I've known about Hare Krishna Mantra anyway for a number of years. Originally, the Spiritual Master made a record in America which didn't really sell well. And apparently the people ran off with the money. But I got to know about it. And also in India, you know, they chant those sort of things all over the place. The thing about the word 'Hare' is the word that calls upon the energy that's around from the Lord. Whichever Lord you like, really. But in this case it happens to be Krishna... which is like the words that Christ said became the Christian Bible. And the words that Krishna said became the sort of Hindu Bible called the Bhagwat Ghita. So it's just by merely the repetition of that. It's the same if you were just to go round chanting Christ, Christ, Christ, Christ. If you say it long enough then you build up this identification. Whatever you identify with, you become one with it. So it's really a method of becoming one with God."

DAVID: "I see."

GEORGE: "It's just another process. It's really the same sort of thing as meditation, but this is the thing-- it has more effect, I think. Or quicker effect, because music is such a powerful force. And it's like God likes me when I work, but loves me when I sing." (chuckles)

DAVID: (laughs)

GEORGE: "But it's really the same end as meditation. The response that comes from it is in the form of bliss. The more you do it, the more you don't wanna stop it, because it feels so nice. Peaceful. I believe in the saying, 'If there's a God, we must see him.' And I don't believe in the idea like, in most churches they say now, you're not gonna see him, he's way above you. Just believe what we tell you and shut up. Well, their whole thing is a different way. It's a process of actually having that realization and direct God perception, which is the thing you can attain through chanting and through meditation. And then you don't have any questions. You don't have to ask the vicar about this, because it all becomes clear with the expanded state of consciousness. But you don't get it in five minutes. It's something that takes a long time. So it's really... It's like to give peace a chance, or all you need is love. The thing is, you can't just stand there and say, love, love, love or peace, peace, peace and get it. You have to have a direct process of attaining that. Like Christ said, 'Put your own house in order.' Maharishi said, 'For a forest to be green, each tree must be green.' So the same for the world to have peace, each individual must have peace. And you don't get it through society's normal channels. And that's why each individual must tend to himself and get his own peace. And that way the whole society will have peace."

DAVID: "George, and what about these rules. Do you support all these things that the Krishna movement support? I mean they don't approve for example of alcohol and drugs."

GEORGE: "I believe in it."

DAVID: "And they recommend a certain kind of food, vegetarian."

GEORGE: "Yeah. Well, there's certain..."

DAVID: "And no sex, unless you're about going to have children, right?"

GEORGE: "Yeah. Illicit. No illicit sex. There are members of this Radha Krishna Temple who are married and now have children. So all that means, you know, not raving around and knocking off everybody. You know, because that's then becomes a bit undisciplined. Because all those emotions like that lust and greed are emotions that have got to be curbed. I believe in being a vegetarian, because meat's one of the worst things anybody can eat."

DAVID: "What about the other ones?"

GEORGE: "Which ones?"

DAVID: "No alcohol or drugs."

GEORGE: "Yeah, well, I don't drink alcohol personally, because... I mean, that's one reason why I smoked pot. When I started smoking pot a few years ago, I hope they won't edit this piece out, because I'm not really..."

DAVID: "I hope they won't. I'm sure they won't, I won't let them."

GEORGE: "Ok, the thing was that, as soon as I smoked pot I gave up alcohol, because I realized the only reason I was drinking alcohol was to get high. So I got high much easier without any sickness after it. But the thing is now that to really have pure state of consciousness and good perception that is above the normal state of consciousness that we're aware of, then you must have a perfectly clear mind. So alcohol and any sort of drugs is out. But I haven't taken anything like that personally for a long time. In fact even before I got busted I never took it. It just happened that, you know, that they seem to bring it with them, that day." (laughs)

DAVID: "I see."

GEORGE: "So, for that's a different story. (jokingly) Edit, edit!"

DAVID: (laughs)

GEORGE: "Anyway, yes I agree with that. Because to REALLY get high you've got to have a pure system. You know, your mind and body has got to be clear."

DAVID: "Two of the most beautiful songs on 'Abbey Road' are from yourself when we've been so used to Lennon/McCartney compositions and of course people have been commenting this week about 'Something' and 'Here Comes The Sun,' which are your own compositions. How did this all happen. It's so unusual for you to contribute so much to an LP."

GEORGE: "Well, not really. I mean, the last album we did had four songs of mine on it. I thought they were alright. So I thought these, 'Something' and 'Here Comes The Sun' was ok... maybe a bit more commercial but as songs not much better than the songs on the last album. But I've been writing for a couple of years now. And there's been lots of songs I've written which I haven't got 'round to recording. So, you know, in my own mind I don't see what the fuss is, because I've heard these songs before and I wrote them, you know quite a while back. And it's really nice that people like the songs, but..."

DAVID: "You don't look upon yourself as a late developer as regards songwriting then? Because it's kind of hit everyone in that way, you know."

GEORGE: "Late, early, you know. What's late and what's early?"

DAVID: (laughs) "But you hadn't really got the reputation as yet as a songwriter, had you?"

GEORGE: "No, no. I wasn't Lennon or I wasn't McCartney. I was me. And the only reason I started to write songs was because I thought, well if they can write them, I can write them. You know, 'cuz really, everybody can write songs if they want to. If they have a desire to and if they have sort of some musical knowledge and background. And then it's by writing them the same as writing books or writing articles or painting-- the more you do it, the better or the more you can undertstand how to do it. And I used to just write songs. I still do. I just write a song and it just comes out however it wants to. And some of them are catchy songs like 'Here Comes The Sun' and some of them aren't, you know. But to me there's just songs and I just write them and some will be considered as good by maybe the masses and some won't. But to me they're just songs, things that are there that have to be got out."

DAVID: "What inspired 'Something' for example?"

GEORGE: "Maybe Patti, probably."

DAVID: "Really?"

GEORGE: "I wrote it at the time when we were making the last double album. And it's just the first line, 'Something in the way she moves' which has been in millions of songs. It's not a special thing. But it just seemed quite apt. I usually get the first few lines of lyrics and melody both at once. And then I finish the melody usually first and then I have to write the words. Like, there's another song I wrote when we were in India about two years, eighteen months ago, and I wrote it straight away. And the first verse I wrote just said everything I wanted to say, like that. And now I need to write a couple of more verses and I find it much more difficult. But John gave me a handy tip once, which is, once you start to write the song, try and finish it straight away while you're in the mood. And I've learned from experience. Because you go to back to it and then you're in a whole different state of mind and it's more difficult. Sometimes it's easier but on the whole it's more difficult to come back to something. So I do it now, try and finish them straight away."

DAVID: "Is it the first time that one of your songs has been released as a Beatles single?"

GEORGE: "As an A-side, yeah."

DAVID: As an A-side."

GEORGE: "They blessed me with a couple of B-sides in the past. But this is the first time I've had an A-side. Big deal, eh?"

DAVID: "Yes, and 'Here Comes The Sun.' That sounds a more obvious one. You must have been inspired by the sun, but where were you?"

GEORGE: "The story behind that was, like Paul sung 'You Never Give Me Your Money.' I think, because whatever you're involved with rubs off and influences you. 'You Never Give Me Your Money' is, I think, during all these business things that we had to go through to sort out the past, so it came out in Paul's song."

DAVID: "Was that written as a sort of dig, or was it written as a sort of...?"

GEORGE: "No, I don't think so. I think it's just written as that's what it is, you know. That's what we are experiencing, you know. Paul in particular. But 'Here Comes The Sun' was the same period. We had meetings and meetings and with all this, you know, banks, bankers and lawyers and all sorts of things. And contracts and shares. And it was really awful, 'cuz it's not the sort of thing we enjoy. And one day I didn't come in to the office. I just sort of, it was like sagging off school.

DAVID: (laughs)

GEORGE: "And I went to a friend's house in the country. And it was just sunny and it was all just the release of that tension that had been building up on me. And it was just really nice sunny day. And I picked up the guitar, which was the first time I'd played the guitar for a couple of weeks because I'd been so busy. And the first thing that came out was that song. It just came. And I finished it later when I was on holiday in Sardinia."

DAVID: "What was your own personal response to the Abbey Road album? How do you feel it comparing with previous albums?"

GEORGE: "I thought it was quite nice. On the whole I think it's a pretty good album."

DAVID: "What are your own personal favorites? Which ones that you really do like?"

GEORGE: "I like... My favorite one is, I think, 'Because.'"

DAVID: "Oh, yes."

GEORGE: "Just because I like three-part harmony. We've never done something like that for years, I think, since a B-side. (sings) 'If you wear red tonight, and what I said tonight.' So I like that. I like lots of them. I like 'You Never Give Me Your Money' and 'Golden Slumbers' and things."

DAVID: "That's beautiful."

GEORGE: "You know, Paul always writes nice melodies. In fact, I don't know where he finds them half the time."

DAVID: (laughs)

GEORGE: "He's amazing for doing that. I like Ringo's song."

DAVID: "Yes."

GEORGE: "Because, I mean, most people say, 'Oh well, it's Ringo,' or you know, 'Ha, ha' or something. But it's great that Ringo SHOULD do it. You know, why shouldn't he do it. And it's just like a country and western tune anyway. And it's a happy tune and it's all that. And I like what he's saying about ' our head on the sea bed.' And all that. 'We could be warm beneath the storm.'"

DAVID: "The little kids are gonna love that."

GEORGE: "Well, yeah. Maybe some big kids like it. I've heard a few people already who are big kids saying that it's their favorite track on the album. So, you know, you can't... One person may dislike certain things, somebody else likes it. Which is makes it difficult doing albums because we're all influenced by different things. And the Beatles has always been a lot of different music. It's never been one sort of 'bag.' (laughs) But the thing is that you can set a high standard and it doesn't necessarily have to be a hit. You know, this is one thing. The market for hits is... you know, I just can't figure it out. I know when the Beatles put out a single it's a hit. But I don't know if... sometimes I feel that if somebody else had put out the same thing but done in their way it mightn't be a hit. I don't know. It's very difficult. I've really decided I haven't got a clue what's commercial and what isn't. And that's the problem, you know, trying to decide what is and what isn't a single. I think the American idea is really good where they just put out an album and the stations over there, you know, they have a lot of independent stations, unlike Britain, you see. That's a problem with Britain, you've got your good old BBC-- full stop. You know, maybe Radio Luxembourg if the weather's fine."

"You know, this is the thing I don't like. It's the Monopolies Commission. Now if anybody, you know, Kodak, or somebody is cleaning up the market with film, the Monopolies Commission, the Government send them in there, and say you know, you're not allowed to monopolize. Yet, when the Government's monopolizing, who's gonna send in, you know, this Commission to sort that one out. Britain in a way, you know, it cuts its own throat. Just from my experience of Britain. It's, you know, it's on every level. You know, from your tax right down into every little speck of business. The British Government's policy seems to be, grab as much as you can now because maybe it's only gonna last another six months. I know personally for me, there's no point in me going out and doing a job, doing a show or doing a TV show or anything, you know. Because in Britain first of all they can't afford to pay you. And whatever they do pay you is taxed so highly that it ends up that YOU owe THEM money."

DAVID: (laughs)

GEORGE: "So, you know, why bother working? But if my tax is cut then I'd do four times as much work, I'd make four times as much money. They'd take less tax but they'd make more from me. But they cut their own throat. They do it all over the show, every place you look in Britain it's the same. I mean, it makes me sick sometimes. It's like, one big Coronation Street. And that's Britain. Now in America, there's more people. And there's more good people, there's more bad people. But just generally there's more of everything. So more things get heard, more things get done and, you know, it really pays."

DAVID: "Yes. Would you like to see the Beatles performing on stage live again?"

GEORGE: "Uhh, I don't know. I wouldn't mind playing, you know. I like playing the guitar with people and singing a few songs and stuff. But I don't know as to going on clubs and things like that."

DAVID: "Yes. You can't split, can you."

GEORGE: "No, well, I think it's mental. It's a mental concept. But to physically or spiritually split is impossible. Well, maybe not physically, I mean, spiritually, it's, you know, you can't split."

DAVID: "No. So that doesn't bother you."

GEORGE: "Because, if you're listening, I'm the Walrus too." (laughs)

Source: Transcribed by from audio copy of the interview

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