George Harrison was an oldies but goodies kind of guy. At the end of the 1960s, music changed for George, and he didn’t like it. Gone were the artists who’d inspired him before he’d joined The Beatles in the late 1950s and the artists that inspired him and the group throughout their 10 years together.
George was a fan of the classics and was tough to impress. However, George’s son, Dhani, eventually showed him one band that impressed him somewhat.
George Harrison said newer music didn’t give him a ‘buzz’
In 1992, Guitar World asked George if any contemporary bands struck him “as having a bit of the same spark” as his early heroes. George said no.
“I can’t say I’ve really heard anything that gives me a buzz like some of that stuff we did in the Fifties and Sixties,” George said. “The last band I really enjoyed was Dire Straits on the Brothers in Arms album. To me, that was good music played well, without any of the bulls***.
“Now I’m starting to get influenced by my teenage son, who’s into everything and has the attitude. He loves some of the old stuff, like Hendrix, and he’s got a leather jacket with Cream’s Disraeli Gears album painted on the back. As for recent groups, he played me the Black Crowes, and they really sounded okay.”
At least Dhani was able to show his father one good contemporary band.
George didn’t listen to contemporary artists back in 1979 either
After 1970, George hardly listened to any contemporary music. In 1979, he told Rolling Stone he only listened to his buddies Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and “those sort of people.” He couldn’t stand punk rock; “it never did anything for me at all.”
Asked if he felt “estranged” from what was “happening musically and socially at a grass-roots, youth-culture level, George replied that the punks were over.
“Well, musically the punks have been and gone, haven’t they, and it all seems to be very musical again,” he explained. “Elvis Costello is very good – very good melodies, good chord changes. I’m pleased about his success, but I never liked those monotone kinds of yelling records.”
Rolling Stone pointed out that they said the same thing about artists like Larry Williams and Little Richard. “Yeah, but those guys were inventing something at the time and I don’t think punk was inventing anything except negativity,” George continued. “The old rock & roll singers sang fantastically, they had great drummers, great sax players. As far as musicianship goes, the punk bands were just rubbish – no finesse in the drumming, just a lot of noise and nothing.”
George didn’t write a single song in 1977 and felt he might have ‘lost a feel for the public ear’
Throughout 1977, George didn’t write a single song or record anything, mostly because he was sick of the music industry. When he started writing and recording again, he felt that he might have “lost a feel for the public ear.”
“I had that feeling because they’d told me stories about Randy Newman, about how he can’t write songs and feels as though he’s dried up, then suddenly he’s written an album that’s successful and now he’s writing ten songs a day,” George explained to Rolling Stone. “So it’s just your own problem. When they mentioned that to me, I did think, ‘Hey, maybe I could dry up.’”
George also touched on how The Beatles released great rock ‘n’ roll songs. “Yeah, we used to do all that, but as far as listening to it, I’d rather hear someone like Little Richard or Larry Williams. I never liked all that stuff in the late Sixties after Cream had broken up – all those Les Paul guitars screaming and distorting. I like more subtlety – like Ry Cooder and Eric Clapton.
“Eric is fantastic. He could blow all those people off the stage if he wanted to, but he’s more subtle than that. Sometimes it’s not what you do, it’s what you don’t do that counts. And personally I’d rather hear three notes hit really sweet than to hear a whole lot of notes from some guitar player whose ears are so blown out he can’t hear the difference between a flat and a sharp.”
George had very particular tastes in music. It took a lot to impress him. However, it is nice to hear that he liked the Black Crowes, at least a little. Dhani brought his father into the contemporary world of music-even partially.
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