All Things Must Pass – 50 Years On

George Harrison Released his immortal first solo album, All Things Must Pass, 50 Years Ago Today

One of the most popular albums ever, All Things Must Pass remains a time capsule and at its best, timeless

All_Things_Must_Pass_onemanz George Harrison

All Things Must Pass is the first solo album released recorded and released by English musician George Harrison. It consists primarily of songs he had written during his years as a member of the Beatles, as well as brand new songs that reflected his advancing interest in Eastern spirituality.

Technically, it was Harrison’s third album, as he had released a film soundtrack and a record of Moog synthesizer compositions previously. But he always considered All Things Must Pass to be his first solo album as the artist he considered himself to really be.

The initial demo of the title track was record at Abbey Road Studios on Harrison’s 26th birthday, February 25, 1969. It and other compositions were rejected by Lennon and McCartney for inclusion in the next Beatles album. In fact, tracks on All Things Must Pass date to as early as 1966.

I can’t help but wonder what some of those pieces would sound like recorded in the ’60s by the Beatles and produced by George Martin. Quite different to be sure! But as they are, mainly through the lush lens of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production techniques, they are part of a unique artistic endeavor on such a scale that it showed up in record stores in a large box, like were only used for operas or collections of classical music at that time.

Actually it consisted of a double album and a third disc of improvisations that was given the separate title Apple Jams. “For the jams, I didn’t want to just throw [them] in the cupboard, and yet at the same time it wasn’t part of the record; that’s why I put it on a separate label to go in the package as a kind of bonus.” Harrison later told Billboard Magazine shortly before his death.

The Legends Live On

I will not venture to share my opinion which tracks on the original double album withstand the test of half a century, to my ear. I mean, who am I to debate with the powers that placed All Things Must Pass into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and placed it on so many lofty “best albums of all time” lists?

But I will say that I absolutely love the third disc that was included in the original release. I wish there was much more of that music made available. Apparently there is a great deal of unreleased material from the multiple recording sessions.

It remains a mystery just exactly who played on what track. A recent book attempted to list the musicians by track. But it is guess work based on various interviews conducted many years after the fact. It has been dismissed as a misguided attempt with good intentions, with more errors than accuracy.

Part of the problem lies in the fact many songs were re-recorded and most had many overdub sessions as well, which included new players from those on the original takes. A commentary on a deep-dive music fan forum put it this way:

Different studios, Trident and Apple, using basically two different “core” groups with lots of help from his friends. The original sessions that started in late May/early June 1970, utilized Clapton and his soon-to-be bandmates… Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Gordon. The other “group” mainly consisted of Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and Klaus Voorman. Sometimes Ringo would drum on tracks with Clapton, Radle and Whitlock. Sometimes Alan White would be the drummer of choice.

Later sessions that ended in October 1970 quite often featured Gary Wright, Ringo, Alan White, Pete Ham, Tommy Evans and Mike Gibbins from Badfinger, Pete Drake, Gary Brooker, Dave Mason (on occasion), Peter Frampton and others. LOTS of overdubbing at this point.

George re-recorded MOST of his lead and backing vocals at this stage. Whitlock and Clapton did a fair amount of backing vocals, along with George and probably popped in and out of the sessions as they progressed through the autumn. It’s quite likely that session folks played on specific tracks that were later wiped as the volumous overdubs progressed. Someone like a Phil Collins may well have played a conga drum on Art Of Dying, but there’s little audio evidence that his contribution made the final mix. It’s certainly possible that Peter Frampton contributed to many songs on acoustic guitar that may or may not have made it to record. There’s NO way to tell, since George, Ham, Evans did so much acoustic tracking.

Other possible participants like Rick Wright from Pink Floyd remain unsubstantiated rumor.

I highly recommend dusting this one off, if you haven’t heard it in a while. And especially I would recommend it to people who have never heard all of the material on this true work of art, even if it is not your normal cup of tea. Here is a link to a site where you hear all three discs in order, for free.

Stream All Things Must Pass

It has been a very enjoyable two hours or more, as I listened to the entire album straight through for the first time since the 1970s. And I will add some of the tracks into my rotation, which I had forgotten how much I liked way back when.

Color George Harrison All Things Must Pass onemanz

Related Reading

Remembering George  1943 – 2001


Happy 75th Birthday Neil Young!

Neil Young Never Rusts

Ever prolific, the Canadian-born troubadour has reached a venerable milestone as he turns 75 years of age.

Neil Young has performed in pop culture’s spotlight of fame since his singular, contra tenor vocals rose out of the folk-rock scene of the psychedelic ‘60s. A maverick among recording and concert artists, he has just as often performed outside of that proverbial spotlight, since he cares nothing forto the whims of public popularity or the critics who’ve blow hot and cold across his career, even as his legions of fans, both casual and hardcore, remain receptive and appreciative.

Whatever has inspired or driven this reclusive man to make public music, he has done so on his own terms, year after year, moving like a chameleon through the decades, at times absorbing current musical trends and letting them influence his artistic explorations, while returning again and again to the bedrock style of folkie acoustic music and turgid electric rock n roll that remains truly unlike any other artist. The possible exceptions are those who have emulated the rough edges and raw emotional effect of Young’s writing, playing, and singing, but are never able to come near his inimitable panache.

As far as I am concerned, no single composition encapsulates what it is to be Neil Young as Natural Beauty. A social ballad, more than political, it pleads for the preservation what little of pristine nature remains in the world, mixed with the artist’s feelings about the short-sighted results of modern consumerism. Natural Beauty is Neil Young at his most pure and unadorned, an artist who creates art in the spontaneity of the moment and who would likely be unleashing the same art into the world whether anyone showed up to listen or no. And here below is a very good performance of that song.

A melancholy mood is set from first notes, with music that is as languid and haunting as can be heard from an acoustic guitar, wafting and echoing, at times immense, as the tentative peal of his harmonica rises up, like the lonely call of some wild bird. So very Neil – unhurried, simple in construction yet as pregnant and poignant as the swollen, ancient river he will soon be singing about .

Then come the lyrics. Gruff and at times as cryptic as a Pinter play, his imperfect poetry glows with the power of the emotional depths surging below the surface, conveying much more than the words do when read at face value, as they float along the meandering current of his guitar, with the verses set out like musical bridges between the soul-wrenching laments wailing from his mouth harp, which seem to express what words cannot.

There was another performance of this song from around the same time period, recorded in Ireland, and put on the internet by someone who disabled the ability to embed it elsewhere. And now it seems to have been removed and is no longer available. A pity. But this one above, recorded for some television program or other, is still a good one. For me, this song gets me right in the heart strings every time I hear it, no matter the specific performance. Far from being a hit, or even well-known, I put it on the very short list at the top of his many worthy and worthwhile compositions.

Like Dylan’s original version of Visions of Johanna, I can only imagine what it must have been like to have been present in the room and heard Neil Young performing a previously unknown song and have Natural Beauty unfold in all its ragged glory.

Far from slowing down, the septuagenarian singer-songwriter has released three albums in less than a year, including his 40th LP album of original material, Homegrown, (June 2020, but recorded in 1974-75), and most recently, September’s solo EP entitled, The Times, featuring performances streamed from his home during the COVID-19 isolation, and November’s Return to Greendale, a live album recorded in 2003. And in June of 2019, he released his 39th LP of new original material, Colorado, recorded that summer with his time rock band, Crazy Horse, that now includes longtime sideman Nils Lofgren standing guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, who retired in 2014.

And speaking of Sampedro and Crazy Horse, here I begin a slew of Neil Young Videos that remain close to my heart.

Powderfinger, when it was brand new:

Powderfinger from Live Rust

Unfortunately the version from Live Rust is only available on Facebook.

Here is a more obscure tune, but awesome Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Ramada Inn:

Lookout for My Love, from MTV Unplugged:

Featuring Nils Lofgren: guitar,  Ben Keith: Dobro,  Spooner Oldham: keyboards, Tim Drummond: bass, Oscar Butterworth: drums,  Astrid Young & Nicolette Larson: backing vocals

Transformer Man:

That he certainly is.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – 1970

Various Excerpts from the film Time Fades Away


The Loner -1970

Appropriately enough, solo

Walk Like a Giant – 2012

Speaking of IMMENSE!

More videos in the article about Neil’s acoustic guitars at One Man’s Guitar (coming soon.)



A New Day, a New President

A guitarist pen pal in Germany wrote to offer congratulations to me and America

And he asked how I was doing. My reply finally put into words how I felt.

For four years, I and those like me have been sickened to our soul that the America we always wanted to believe existed could have elected that odious villainous criminal. And it looked as if it were to happen AGAIN.

But in the end, American citizens came out in record numbers to reject Trumpism as a political movement in the USA.

Now, not everyone who voted for Trump is an awful human being. Many would vote Republican no matter who was on the ticket. Even here in my progressive area there were many who voted for Trump, because they are wealthy and care for little more than their tax bill.

That is not the same thing as Trumpism.

Then again, maybe it is. Donald Trump doesn’t “love America” and he isn’t a born again Christian. Like all great con men, he tells people what they want to hear.

Actually, Donald Trump only loves Donald Trump, and cares only about himself.

His charisma and message is all about selfishness. And he legitimized the selfishness of not just the rich who vote for anyone who will cut their taxes, but the selfishness of the smallest, meanest bigots and anyone longing to have their selfishness validated by no one less than the President of the frickin’ United States.

But we were shown there were far more people who wanted Trump’s America than we ever allowed ourselves to believe. And that heartbreak was reinforced when 60 million voted for him this time too.

And yet, as a result of Trump’s ascendancy, so many of the worst of us have been exposed for what they are, so that white supremacists are being ejected from the military and the police, etc. for the first time ever. There are silver linings in this.

Genuine fascism was smoldering at his rallies and was reflected in the cold eyes of his primary advisors. His reckless disregard for the reality of the Virus and his disregard for common decency and the strong man rhetoric inciting his followers to armed violence were endangering the very fabric of our society.

And America – enough of America – came forth to say Trump did not deserve and would not be tolerated in a second term in office. It is our turn to be emboldened, and we are now aware of the serious threats to our democracy residing withing our democracy.

Many who typically vote Republican joined us to vote for Biden. That says a great deal.

As for today, I was not prepared for the outpouring of emotion. From me or from anyone else. There were more people filling the large park near me than had ever been in my 32 years in Brooklyn – not even half that number had gathered there.

And I was told Central Park was “like Woodstock.” And then told it is happening across America. And then I realized it was happening the world over. Church bells were being rung across Europe and elsewhere at the news.

Faith has been restored in me about the better angels of America’s nature. Time will tell if it will be enough.

Trumpism is defeated in an official sense. Its horrid realities are still roaming at large. I remain grateful that I live on an island off the coast of America.