We’ve been expecting you

Apropos of nothing, I’ve been watching George Harrison clips on YouTube and thought I’d share them with you.

In his solo recordings, George became known for his slide guitar work. It’s a great sound and, best I can tell, uniquely his. He’s not mimicking blues or Hawaiian slide players; it’s just George. He doesn’t draw attention to it, but it’s almost always there.

Here’s Crackerbox Palace from his Thirty Three & ⅓ album from 1976. The pre-MTV video was directed by Eric Idle and features Eric’s fellow Rutle (and former Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band1 member and Sir Robin’s chief minstrel) Neil Innes in the opening scene. Later on, the Dummy Princess Margaret, featured in a few of the Python TV shows, makes an appearance.

I am, in fact, old enough to remember seeing this video when it first played on Saturday Night Live thirty-six years ago. Apart from the general whimsy of the song, there’s a very specific joke/reference in the “it’s twue” lyric. That’s Madeline Kahn’s line from Blazing Saddles. I don’t know why George put it in the song, but it’s a reference everyone got.

From the same album, and played on the same SNL show, This Song is a retelling of the My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine plagiarism lawsuit he’d just lost a few months earlier.2

That’s former Face and then-new Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood in drag, saying (with Eric Idle’s voice) that it sounds like Rescue Me. You recognize the nose, don’t you?

Finally, from a few years later, my favorite of George’s solo songs, Blow Away. Great chorus, lovely slide work, and, in the video, some fancy footwork.

There’s a lot of playing around with mirror images in this video, including that section where he looks to be playing guitar left-handed. I don’t understand why, and I don’t care.

  1. The Bonzos have other Beatle connections, of course. Their I’m the Urban Spaceman was produced by Apollo C. Vermouth, a Paul McCartney pseudonym. And Vivian Stanshall appeared as the strip club singer in the Magical Mystery Tour TV show. 

  2. Saying George lost the suit is a simplification, I know, but he certainly didn’t win. And, as an occasional expert witness, the line “my expert tells me it’s OK” cracks me up.