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George Harrison’s Wife and Giles Martin Discuss ‘Early Takes, Vol. 1′

George Harrison
Ian Showell, Getty Images

Today (May 1) saw the release of the DVD of ‘Living in the Material World,’ the Martin Scorcese-directed documentary about George Harrison that debuted on HBO last October. A companion CD, ‘Early Takes, Vol. 1,’ which compiles ten Harrison demos that were used in the film, also came out. In a new interview, Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin, and Harrison’s wife Olivia discussed the previously unreleased material.

“We would sit in Friar Park [Harrison's estate] and go through tapes and run-throughs,” Martin told Spinner. “We would filter things based on whether they showed George off, finding the right sort of sound for various things. Then we would send them forward to Martin, and he would listen.”

George Harrison’s archives were, in Olivia’s words, a “massive mess.” Acoustic demos would offer revealing looks at well-known tracks, while tapes that had some of George’s famous friends would have little more than studio chatter.

Harrison denied the oft-made charge that John Lennon and Paul McCartney “stifled” George’s creativity by limiting him to two or three songs per album. She prefers to say that he “developed later as a songwriter.” Olivia also offered some insight into the songwriting process of the “Quiet Beatle.”

“It would just come from somewhere, and something would trigger it.” she said. “It could be a bird singing outside. It could be some sound from nature, but you could just see: ‘Here it comes.’ I don’t think he had quite so much control over it, but he knew how to tap into it.”

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