As part of the Concert for George in 2002, Paul McCartney led an all-star band in a touching rendition of his Beatles bandmate George Harrison’s iconic hit ‘All Things Must Pass’. The song is sung in memory of Harrison a year after his passing and its message still rings true today.
The Concert for George was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 November as a fitting memorial to the mercurial songwriting genius and former Beatle, George Harrison, on the first anniversary of his death. The event was organised by Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and his son, Dhani, and was a global musical event, expertly guided by Eric Clapton. The profits from the event went to the Material World Charitable Foundation, an organisation founded by Harrison.
It welcomed a host of incredible guests for the evening, opened by Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar’s daughter, the stars on show were brighter than ever. It even saw a Monty Python comedy break introduce Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks singing ‘The Lumberjack Song’—but the real party began when ‘George’s Band’ rolled into town.
The concert included surviving members of The Beatles, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, join an all-star list of musicians including Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Billy Preston, Jools Holland and more. It was truly a feast for the ears as the band performed some of Harrison’s most treasured hits.
The group’s singers took turns on some of the notable tunes in Harrison’s catalogue with notable moments coming with Clapton and McCartney’s touching performance of ‘Something’, which Macca opened with a ukelele solo, as well as Ringo Starr joining the pair for a gorgeous ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’—but it was McCartney’s command of ‘All Things Must Pass’ that caught our eye.
Not only is this a wonderful performance that McCartney leads but it’s the song itself that feels particularly poignant in the audience in 2002. While the reason the audience and the artists were in the room together at all was, of course, a sad and painful one but with Harrison’s triumphant ‘All Things Must Pass’, McCartney enacts his former bandmates vision.
McCartney sings the track beautifully, adding his own delicacy to proceedings. As the song’s subject matter deals with the transience of human existence and the need for optimism over fatalism, McCartney and George’s Band package it all up on soothing and soulful music.
It’s a beautiful rendition for all involved and sees the artists on stage and the audience in their seats connect for one cherishable moment. At a time when the weight of negativity around coronavirus feels too heavy, remember some words by The Beatles: