Christmas Issue 2011
While countless fans gently weep: George Harrison I
t does feel like years since he’s been here; this 29th November marks the tenth anniversary of the death of the youngest and quiet Beatle, who lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 58. George Harrison was the finger-picking genius of the fourpiece, performing the finger style sections in the instrumental breaks of the band’s most memorable hits. Honey Don’t is an early Beatles cover of a Carl Perkins song, in which Ringo Starr -unusually the singer on the trackwarmly instructs “Rock on, George, one time for me”. You can then hear Harrison vocalising through the notes of his solo, conversing with Starr through the frets on his painted Gretsch guitar. Similarly, the iconic track And I Love Her, a Beatles piece they famously performed live at the BBC, contains from its outset a distinctive and muchloved finger style riff that was Harrison’s creation; he composed it spontaneously while Paul McCartney strummed the already-established chord sequence. Living in the Material World, a documentary commissioned by the BBC, explores the life of the quiet Beatle. Within the first ten minutes, McCartney delivers the story of how George Harrison made it into the band. The son of a bus driver was, coincidentally, auditioned by McCartney and John Lennon on the upper level of a doubledecker bus; he delivered a note-perfect recital of a piece called Raunchy and, despite his young age, was admitted to the band that would become The Beatles. This anecdote is a staple of any Beatlemaniac who occasionally talks in their local instead of spending all their time and money at the jukebox, queuing up Beatles tracks and debating whether Abbey Road or Sgt Peppers is the better album (most will opt for the most experiemental Beatles album, Sgt. Peppers). In the initial stages of The Beatles’ career and amid the first screams of Beatlemania, Harrison was often side-stepped and marginalised, despite being, in name at least, their lead guitarist. It was the symmetry of the Lennon-McCartney guitars that dominated atop a stage and any attention that could possibly be diverted from them went to the metronome that was Ringo’s mop head on the raised background platform. Like Harrison’s own lead guitar solos, the man himself was not obvious from the very first moment the music started, but as it continued and entered its different phases, he gained a more blatant and mesmerising presence, coming into his own and developing as both a songwriter and performer. Harrison, The Beatles agreed, would sing one track on each album. The first one of these was Do You Want to Know a Secret?, a Lennon-McCartney penned song on the The Beatles’ debut album,
Please Please Me. On the album Beatles for Sale, (on which the aforementioned track Honey Don’t appears), Harrison memorably performed vocals on Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, another track from the pen of his hero, Carl Perkins. The idea of George
condition known as Beatlemania. Eventually, Harrison was singing his own numbers on Beatles albums which may only be northern songs but which did -and still do- shine and stand out on their own merit. On Rubber Soul, Harrison sings his self-written track If I Needed Someone. The first Beatle to marry wrote this song about his first wife, Patty Boyd. She also appeared as the quintessential Beatlemaniac –young and coy- in the film A Hard Day’s Night, in a memorable scene depicting the Fab Four singing Should Have Known Better over a game of cards. Abbey Road, the band’s last recorded and penultimately released album, features two of Harrison’s trademark songs; Something and Here Comes the Sun. Frank Sinatra- the antithesis of The Beatles as a performer- considered the former “the best love song ever recorded”. He respected it so much he covered it himself, and well. The latter Harrison number was inspired by the emergence of the silver (or possibly golden?) lining and The Beatles’ raised morale in the aftermath of Brian Epstein’s (The Beatles’ manager) death. Harrison wrote this as their mourning and grieving period, their “long, cold, lonely winter”, ended. A respectable and likeable cover has too been made of this track, and also by an American artist; former music teacher Sheryl Crow, whose version featured in the film Bee Movie. On the sombre news of his demise, some of the biggest names in musical history publicly paid their respects to the Beatle. McCartney and Starr called him “my baby brother” and “a best friend of mine” respectively. Bob Dylan, Harrison’s co-performer in super group The Travelling Wilburys, made mention of his “wit and humour”. Indeed, Harrison possessed an upbeat wit and sense of humour that led him to answer the question from a Times journalist “What do you call that haircut you’re wearing?” with “Arthur” and to continue deliberately avoiding taxation throughout his cancer battle, even when his illness looked terminal, his witty and humorous mind was responsible for some of the most catchy, endearing and addictive riffs in the history of popular culture. My mind’s still set on you, George.
Harrison’s performing vocals little and -if not often then- certainly regularly, gathered momentum, while innumerable girls un-gently screamed; the commonest symptom of a recognised and incurable
Hail Ceasar! I
f you happened to be passing JP Hall on the 24th, 25th or 27th of November, and saw Roman soldiers, noble ladies and gentlemen with daggers running around, fear not! Following their enormously ambitious - and successful - 48 hour play project, the first full production by the Bangor English Drama Society (BEDS, to those in the know) of the new academic year took place. And what better way to kick off a new semester of theatre than with one of Shakespeare’s Roman histories, Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar is all about politics; it portrays the conspiracy against the Roman ruler Caesar which eventually leads to his assassination, and explores how both his traitors and allies deal with the aftermath. Despite being the title character, Caesar is not the play’s central character. Instead, this history deals with Brutus, the chief conspirator, and explores his struggles with honour, duty and friendship. This production had three directors leading the way: Joshua Pink, Jodie Williams and Christopher Davies. The directors’ choices for the staging was very effective, especially with the enactment of the first scene: this took place in the reception of JP Hall while the audience waited to enter the theatre, the actors playing the citizens intertwined throughout the audience members during Mark Anthony’s solemn speech. This technique was very effective in allowing the audience to feel more involved with the scene, and therefore allowed the audience to gain a deeper connection to the plot. The cast of this play was very strong, and the directors decision to cast numerous actors of the opposite gender to their characters did not hinder the play in any way. Furthermore, it was extremely encourag-
ing to see so many first years taking some of the main roles, showing that BEDS definitely will not be running out of talent any time soon! Leila Gwynne gave a brilliant performance of the conflicted Brutus, and Callum Lewis played the cunning and persuasive Cassius very convincingly; these two actors had great chemistry in their scenes together. Imogen Rowe also portrayed Mark Anthony with great subtlety and emotion, and performed the famous ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ speech fantastically. Lauren CourtDobson gave a compelling performance as Caesar and the rest of the ensemble were equally as enjoyable to watch. The atmosphere was palpable, and the intensity and tension of the play was tremendously powerful, especially in scenes such as Caesar’s assassination, which features the famous line “Et tu, Brute?” Overall, the BEDS performance of Julius Caesar was a great production. The superb acting of the cast really brought the play to life, and the excellent staging and direction
developed the audience’s physical and emotional involvement in the production. For those of you who enjoy a bit of theatre, I cannot think of a better night out, and for only £5 entry, you really have no excuse! The next BEDS project will be the original production Our Father in January, and following that will be an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes 221b Baker Street in February. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening watching Julius Caesar, and I look forward with great anticipation to their next production!
Published on Dec 2, 2011
This is the December 2011/12 issue of Seren, Bangor Univeristy's English Language Newspaper. Produced by students for students.