Guitars, and fans, gently weep over Harrison's passing

  • Article by: BILL HAMMOND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2001 - 10:00 PM

George, the quiet Beatle, spoke volumes with his music -- using a powerful but restrained voice that reverberated with breadth and eloquence. Whether offering his take on an American rockabilly classic or delving into the mystical strains of the sitar, Harrison always seemed to find just the right notes, just the right rhythms, just the right sound.

You didn't have to be a musician to embrace the Beatles in the 1960s, but if you were one, your musical future probably changed forever.

In the early '60s, I was borrowing my grandfather's ratty Gibson on weekends, locking myself in my room and struggling to master basic chords from a one-page chart of perplexing diagrams. Calluses were slow in forming on my fingertips; progress was painful.

But once the clear-as-a-bell amplified chorus of "She Loves You" hit my ears for the first time, guitar stopped being a pastime and became a passion. For me and millions of others, no one was more important than the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

George is why we bought electric guitars as soon as we could talk our parents into them. George is why we learned cool chords such as sixths and ninths. George is why we hiked up the strap and played our guitars a little higher than we used to. George is why we lusted after fat-bodied Gretsch guitars.

For players and nonplayers alike, George was a seemingly endless supply of guitar-driven music that reached us, that tapped our youthful energy and somehow validated us.

Unlike most pop-music players, he was never happy with one distinct sound or style. Is it really possible that the same man who played that scratchy lead on "Kansas City" ("Beatles for Sale") would later write the achingly languid lines of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"?

There was weeping aplenty Friday on a favorite online haunt for stringed musicians, the discussion forum of Acoustic Guitar magazine. Dozens of posts paid tribute to Harrison.

From Sydney, Australia:

"Rest in peace, and thank you."

"All things must pass,

All things must pass away,

All things must pass,

None of life's strings can last,

So, I must be on my way

And face another day."

From Phoenix: "I can't believe it. He was only 58. I was just sitting in my car on Wednesday, not wanting to get out while 'Paperback Writer' was still playing. That amazing guitar riff! It brought tears of joy and amazement to my eyes then and almost every time I heard it. The longer I'm around the more I appreciate the beautiful things that George and company gave us. Thank you, George, and goodbye."

"When you've seen beyond yourself

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