Rare footage of George Harrison watching The Beatles perform ‘This Boy’
Dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault, we’re revisiting the moment former Beatle George Harrison spent some time reminiscing about the old days and his time as part of the Fab Four.
The footage, which came to light as part of the Living in the Material World documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, sees Harrison rewatching footage of The Beatles performing ‘This Boy’ in 1963. There’s something incredibly joyful about watching Harrison relive his youth.
“I gave that guitar away,” Harrison recalls when the clip begins to play. “Good song though,” he adds while looking into the camera with a beaming smile on his face, clearly enamoured with the vintage clip. The documentary, which follows Harrison’s story from his early life in Liverpool, through the Beatlemania phenomenon and on to his travels to India, was made shortly after his death in 2001.
“That subject matter has never left me,” Scorsese said about the film. “The more you’re in the material world, the more there is a tendency for a search for serenity and a need to not be distracted by physical elements that are around you. His music is very important to me, so I was interested in the journey that he took as an artist. The film is an exploration. We don’t know. We’re just feeling our way through.”
Famously named after Harrison’s fourth studio album, the clip in this article is said to have been filmed around 1975-76 as he reflects on the early formative years of the Beatles. “John was as blind as a bat but he’d never wear his glasses so he couldn’t see a thing,” he says while laughing and singing along to the song.
The track is a classic reminder of the band’s early beginnings. John Lennon recalls the song to David Sheff in 1980: “Just my attempt at writing one of those three-part harmony Smokey Robinson songs. Nothing in the lyrics; just a sound and harmony.”
There was a period when I thought I didn’t write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock ‘n’ roll. But of course, when I think of some of my own songs – ‘In My Life’, or some of the early stuff, ‘This Boy’ – I was writing melody with the best of them.”
McCartney too spoke of the song, claiming it to be archetypal Beatles fodder: “‘This Boy’ was another hotel-bedroom song, twin beds, one afternoon somewhere; we had arrived around one o’clock. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we thought, Well, let’s write one. Rather like the hotel where we wrote ‘She Loves You’. It’s funny, I remember the room and the position of the beds: John and I sitting on twin beds, the G-Plan furniture, the British hotel with olive green and orange everywhere, that marvellous combination, the colours of vomit.”
For a band that have been in the limelight for nearly six full decades it is hard to remember that underneath it all, they were just four lads from Liverpool whose lives changed forever. It’s only when you see moments like these, of true and honest reflection, that you’re reminded about this boy underneath it all.