Probably my favourite George Harrison song, its the O level song, the one I revised, or what I jokingly called revising, to in April/May of 1973, those weeks after the Easter break when you hadn’t left school yet but they told you that they’d done with teaching you any more and all you had to do now was stay at home and read through the last five years worth of work in preparation for your O level exams in June, I of course, with that wonderful self destructive gene of “can’t be arsed-ness” spent most of those weeks sitting in the garden for t’was a rare break in the foul weather those few weeks and the sun was almost warm on my face as I sat there in a deck chair all day long while the rest of the world was at work.
My revising extended to reading things on the bus on the way to the exam and then summarising five years worth of work into a few brief notes on the back of my hand, ok so I never got any good grades but I still got a pass mark and then afterwards in the real world no-one ever asked me to prove what O levels I had, they just asked if I had any, “Have you got any O levels then ?” is what Ron Ransom asked when he interviewed me for the job at his electrical contractors, “Oh Yes” I replied, “Good” he said, “Can you start Monday ?”, I wish someone had told me that they’d never ask to see the certificates because I wouldn’t have even bothered with the notes on the back of the hand then.
So “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” was all over the radio that spring/summer and it was my “let your mind go elsewhere” song, even now when I hear it all of the other senses shut down and just the auditory one stays open for business, George Harrison wrote some beautiful songs, was suppressed for so long by the Lennon/McCartney output all of which is covered so well in the Martin Scorsese film “Living In The Material World”, the anthology of George.
There is a part in that film where Ringo describes how, when the Beatles were recording “Here Comes The Sun”, which George had written with Eric Clapton in his garden one day, and the guitar link from the chorus to the verse has a peculiar beat pattern to it, one that everyone was having trouble getting just right, Ringo took George to one side and told him that he just didn’t get it at all and George explained that it wasn’t a rock beat at all but one that he’d been taught by sitar players in India and they both sat there and sang the riff to each other with la-la-la’s until Ringo got it right.
Later in the studio both John and Paul just couldn’t get the tempo of the rift right and Ringo interrupted and offered to explain it all to them, telling them that he’d heard all about this new Indian riff and it was really easy to get if you only sang it in la-la-la’s to yourself over and over again while George sat in the corner laughing his socks off.
The moment is captured here in another video…
George Martin and his son are going over the old tapes from that recording session with Dhani Harrison and right at the end Dhani describes that riff and how his father taught it to him in exactly the way that he taught Ringo and George Martin says “You’ve got it too, you’re like your father”