(As I’ve been listening to a lot of music during my blog absence, I thought it might be worthwhile trying to resurrect the Midweek Music Moment series.)
I’m one of those people who loved the Beatles (and still do) but was always equivocal when it came to the “who’s your favorite Beatle?” question. But two things eventually cemented George Harrison in that role, both occurring after the Beatles broke up. One was the stellar All Things Must Pass, his 1970 solo album that displayed not only his musicianship but his moralistic world view. The latter was also displayed with the second item, the following year’s Concert for Bangladesh.
The concert was to raise funds the people of Bangladesh, a country that had been wracked by famine, floods and civil war, leaving some 10 million refugees. Harrison managed to bring in such stars as Bob Dylan (who had been basically incognito since 1966), Eric Clapton (who admitted in his autobiography that his physical and mental state was such he has only a “vague memory” of the event), Ringo Starr and Leon Russell. It was the first charity-driven rock concert.
While the concert — actually two shows, one in the afternoon the other in the evening — was held on August 1, 1971, the single, “Bangladesh,” was released in the U.S. 25 years ago today. Here’s Harrison’s more up-tempo performance of the song as an encore at the concert:
The concert version was released as part of the triple album concert recording in December 1971 and part of the concert film releasedMarch 1972. (I still remember going to that film in high school and being mesmerized by it.) The studio single, however, did not appear on an LP until the release of The Best of George Harrison in 1976.
Although I couldn’t feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I’m asking all of you
To help us save some lives
George Harrison, “Bangladesh”