Eric and George

Hard to believe, but among the one hundred and six blog posts I’ve written to date, there’s nary a one devoted solely to either of two of my favorite musicians.  So it’s time.  Here’s one that touches on both of them; there will be more to come, both about them individually and about work they’ve done together.

Friends who know me well know the role that George Harrison has played in my musical–and inner–life, dating back to age 6 or 7 (I wrote about my introduction to the quiet Beatle here).  My discovery of Clapton came a bit later; fandom blossomed when I was in my late 20’s and then approached groupie-level devotion in my mid-30’s, when I attended a stretch of concerts over a number of years at Madison Square Garden.


Theirs was quite a friendship; what’s always impressed me is the fact that it lasted despite everything that happened with Pattie Boyd.  They continued to support each other artistically, performing together on concert tours, at one-off events like the Concert For Bangladesh (photo at very top of post), and in the studio.  There’s a lovely moment at the very beginning of Martin Scorcese’s excellent documentary on Harrison, “Living In The Material World”: Clapton is asked what he would say to his friend (who died in November of 2001) if he were to enter the room at that moment.  His response?  “Fancy a cup of tea?”  I just love that.

Cloud Nine.png
The guitar is a 1957 Gretsch 6128 that Harrison bought in Liverpool in 1961.

So while there are many collaborations to choose from–including an iconic cut from ‘The Beatles’ (aka ‘The White Album’)–what I’ve chosen to highlight here is a song from ‘Cloud Nine.’  Released in November of 1987, and co-produced with Jeff Lynne, the album was a return to top form for Harrison.  The response from critics was uniformly positive, with many calling it his best solo work since ‘All Things Must Pass.’  In addition to Clapton and Lynne, Elton John, Ringo Starr and percussionist Ray Cooper lent their talents to what would be Harrison’s last studio album before he died.

The album’s big hit was the peppy ‘Got My Mind Set On You’, which is probably my least favorite song.  I was immediately drawn to the second cut, ‘If That’s What It Takes’.  At this point I’ll digress briefly to say that I remain eternally fascinated by the way a particular piece of music, no matter the form, can just….lasso you in…and make you want to hear it over and over.  It’s a kind of surrender.  A welcome kind.  I realize that it’s probably, ultimately, impossible to convey what it is I feel to others.  I can share a piece, direct one’s attention to that particular point in time at which the alchemy happens for me, but know that more often than not, I’ll fail at getting others to hear exactly what it is I hear.  Everyone’s experience of music, of all art, is so personal.  But I’ll keep trying.

What do I love about this song?  The shimmer, twang and strum that open it, George’s vocal, his guitar line from 1:30 to 1:47 (I love that it’s so recognizably him).  But it’s Clapton’s outro (and so recognizably him), beginning at 2:50, that’s the strongest tug on the lasso.

The word clone applies: Harrison’s legacy includes more than his music: Dhani Harrison is a dead ringer for his father.

Dhani Harrison


  • The statement ‘Harrison’s last studio album’ had me rushing to check. 1987? Surely not? But of course, quite correct, naturally 😉 .
    There was the Travelling Wilburys project and a live album/tour with EC ‘(Live in Japan’, 1992) but ‘Brainwashed’ was posthumous. I’m sending you all my fact checking from now on.

    Beaut homage. Love that you picked a track with G and E together but slightly apart.

    Look forward to the Pattie Boyd post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! It seemed unlikely, right? 1987 to 2001 and nothing from the studio?! (Brainwashed has some wonderful bits; it’s too bad he didn’t live to experience its warm reception). Another number from ‘Cloud Nine’ I might have chosen to highlight here is the title track, in which the two kind of duel, trading licks back and forth…fun to hear, but it doesn’t generate the kind of crucial emotional response that led me start this blog in the first place…

      P.S. My fact checking rates are quite reasonable. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome! I became a Clapton fan during my college years, primarily as a result of his incredible talent with the guitar. However, I had no idea (until reading your blog today) as to the strength of the relationship between him and George Harrison, nor that they had such a strong friendship that continued past their respective relationships with Patti Boyd. Thank you for that bit of education in classic rock history!



  • I must confess that I really didn’t fully understand their relationship until Layla hit the charts. Thanks for bringing all these great songs back to my consciousness

    Liked by 1 person

  • Happy I came across your blog! George was an incredible songwriter… one of my favorite Beatles songs is While My Guitar Gently Weeps.


    • That’s actually my favorite Beatles song…!

      Very happy you stumbled across Augenblick; thanks for checking it out, and for commenting. Very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

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