Saturday, December 03, 2011

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

In today's  delanceyplace excerpt - the relentless Nazi bombing of Liverpool left it scarred and resource starved. Out of this deprivation, its citizens - including young George Harrison and his friends - developed a sense of humor, a work ethic, and the hope of escape:

"There was an honesty that we had, a very simple, naive honesty, and I think that had a lot to do with where we came from. The people up there have a certain naive honesty and humour. They say you have to have humour to live in a place like that. Everybody who comes out of Liverpool thinks they are comedians, and we were no exception. That kept us going."   GEORGE HARRISON   

"During the war, Liverpool was the second biggest port in the empire, after London, with huge docks. It really did get hammered in the Blitz. You hear the story about Aunt Mimi dodging the bombs, going to the hospital when John [Lennon] was born. That's not an exaggeration. Liverpool got the shit bombed out of it. Post-war, our playgrounds were bombsites, which could be pretty dangerous. You got streets that just went off into nothing. We were very aware of the war. Near where George, Paul and I went to school at the Liverpool Institute, there was a church called St Luke's that had been firebombed. The whole church was just a burned-out shell. It's still there now as a reminder.  There would always be a few kids who didn't have a father. It was never talked about, but you didn't know whether they were children of an American soldier or whether their father had died in the war."   NEIL ASPINALL, Lifelong friend, CEO Apple Corps ... 
"I always remember my Mum saying that they had been on the housing list to have another house for twenty-two years. In 1949 they eventually did get a house, and we moved to Speke in about 1950. Speke was a building site basically; there were no roads or anything. It was like two feet of mud everywhere. But it was a bigger house."   PETER HARRISON, Brother

"There were numerous parks around Liverpool. People always think that Liverpool's a big built-up city, but if you could see it from the air I think you'd realise there are more parks there than in the majority of cities. When you were a little one you played on the bombsites but by and large weekends as a family we always used to go to a park somewhere - take some sandwiches and a bottle of water."  HARRY HARRISON, Brother

"I used to live in a place called Speke, which is on the outskirts of Liverpool. My mother was a midwife, so she would keep getting moved to the outskirts. The roads were kind of unmade when we got there. It was frontier land. And George lived just down the road. It was a bus stop away. It was a road called Central Avenue, which was the main road, and then there was Western Avenue, and then half an hour away was the city, where our school was. And we both went to the same school. I would get on the bus, and then a stop later George would get on. So I'd see this kid with a quiff, but younger than me, so I wouldn't pay much attention, because I was cooler, I was older. But eventually he must have had a seat next to me on the bus, so that's how we met. Obviously going to the same school we had a bond. And then it turned out that we both loved rock 'n' roll, and guitars. He was a cocky little guy. He had a good sense of himself; he wasn't cowed by anything. He had a great haircut.

"Looking back now, it was pre-fame - we were just ordinary kids who couldn't get in places because we weren't famous. Teachers didn't like us. Rock 'n' roll hadn't properly arrived yet. I always think of it as kind of Dickensian. And the school that I went to with George, incidentally, was a very Dickensian old place. In fact, Dickens had talked there. That's how Dickensian it was. You grew up wanting to go somewhere else. It made you hungry, so art was a great golden vision. For us, we wouldn't have called it art, but rock 'n' roll."   PAUL McCARTNEY

Author: Olivia Harrison 
Title: George Harrison 
Publisher: Abrams  
Date: Copyright 2011 by Harrisongs, Ltd. 
Pages: 15-32
George Harrison: Living in the Material World
by Olivia Harrison by Abrams
Hardcover ~ US Release Date: 2011-09-27

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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