Book review: GEORGE HARRISON – I Me Mine (The Extended Edition)

GEORGE HARRISON - I Me Mine (The Extended Edition)

Genesis Publications [Publication date 21.02.17]

It’s probably not a book you would want to take on holiday, fearing that Ryan Air would charge excess baggage.  Similarly it may break your coffee table.  But ‘I Me Mine  – The Extended Edition’ – Genesis Publications’ 100th book – will surely keep the George Harrison/Beatle fan fully occupied nevertheless.

Originally published in 1980 ‘I Me Mine’ is a collection of Harrison’s song lyrics, annotated by the composer,  rather than a true autobiography.  It has now been expanded with archive photos to substantiate the ‘quiet one’ and his interests including India, gardening and racing cars.

Some might argue that there is very little here of biographical value written by Harrison himself  unless you can extrapolate that from his song lyrics.  In fact Beatle press officer the late Derek Taylor supplies the ‘biography’ in his essay, based upon his conversations with the man.  Unfortunately this isn’t that illuminating and offers no great insights.

The story of The Beatles, after the quiet one met Macca on the school bus, is dealt with in a fairly fleeting way with no great revelations about their inter-relationships.  It is clear that Harrison eschewed the trappings of fame and found some solace in spiritualism and his love for India.  He carefully studied the sitar for several years at the height of Beatlemania and this must have counterbalanced the whirlwind Fab Four lifestyle.  It also helped his guitar playing.

Harrison was also friendly with the comedians Monty Python, and in particular Eric Idle who was to rib his band in The Rutles tribute some years later (which, it has to be said, Harrison fully supported).  He also financed HandMade Films (who made Python’s ‘Life Of Brian’) but there is nothing here about that aspect or his interest in films and film making in general.

The narrative takes us up to 1980.  Harrison died in 2001.  The bulk of the book consists of facsimilie lyrics (in Harrison’s own hand although some re-written for the book) and photos.  This edition has been expanded to include more than 50 additional lyrics.

It could be argued that the songs’ dissection will only be of interest to Harrison die-hards although we are reminded that he co-wrote Cream’s ‘Badge’ with Clapton (who mis-read Harrison’s note about the bridge section to come up with that title) and of course ‘Something’ remains his most successful – and most covered – song.  He particularly liked James Brown’s version.

Fans and the curious will certainly find the memorabilia and reminiscing aspect of interest.  But even given this sumptuous – and definitive – tome there is still a place for a definitive Harrison biography.    Olivia Harrison, his widow, contributed to ‘I Me Mine’ but her own book ‘Living In The Material World’ (2011) and – moreover – the books by Graeme Thomson (2013) and Simon Leng (2006) are worth seeking out to help fill in the gaps.  ****

Review by David Randall

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