Here Comes The Sun
A George Harrison-inspired tip to combat the "long, cold, lonely winter"
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Coming full circle
☕️ Read time: 4 mins (best with tea or coffee)
I was browsing the book section of my favourite local shop when George Harrison caught my eye—his piercing gaze cast from a newly-minted biography propped up on display. Written by “premiere Beatles biographer” Philip Norman and fashioned with a black and white aesthetic that whispered rather than screamed, the book was a welcome contrast from its colourful competitors.
I instinctively picked it up as I pondered the only thing I knew about Harrison that distinguished him from his bandmates—something I’d read in British model and fashion designer Alexa Chung’s 2013 book It.
Best Dressed Beatle
Chung has been a muse for Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld and in her book detailing her fascinating world of fashion, she pays homage to George Harrison as follows:
“It’s pointless trying to choose a favourite Beatle because I love them all equally. But, there is something about the way George Harrison wore his clothes that I adore. Often I will turn to men for style ideas and I find Harrison particularly inspiring. His transition from teddy boy to rocker to mod to hippy to perm is fascinating to research. I enjoy the ‘pioneer years’, which consisted of floppy hats, military jackets and neckerchiefs.
Even relaxing on the beach he chose to wear a worn-out baggy t-shirt with a red woolly hat. No trousers, but definitely a hat? It’s confusing but fantastic. I must applaud how, later in life, he managed to make a moustache sexy. That is a really difficult thing to do.
Some people are natural-born clothes-horses—George Harrison was one of them.”
When I read Chung’s words on Harrison back in 2013, I was intrigued. I remember thinking “I’ll have to look into him and learn more.” But I was engrossed in her book in which he was but one of many influences ranging from “the sultry beauty of Jane Birkin to the rocker chic of Mick Jagger”—so I never got around to it.
Fast forward nine years to December 1st, 2022, and that failed call-to-action came racing back to me when my brother and his fiancée gifted me with a TASCHEN book for my birthday. This particular book, London: Portrait of a City, captures London’s “remarkable history, architecture, landmarks, streets, style, cool, swagger, and stalwart residents” in hundreds of rare photographs—many of which were previously unpublished.
As a book lover and former London resident (from 2014-2016) who will forever consider it home, this gift was a home run. I could barely contain myself from flipping through the pages until after the festivities, and when I did, I was enthralled by this stunning photo Robert Whitaker took of Harrison and fans in Chiswick Park in 1966 “during a break from filming promotional shorts for The Beatles’ singles Rain and Paperback Writer”:
Again, I thought “I have to look into this guy and learn more.” But again, I was engrossed in my new book in which he was but one of many icons that studded the pages chronicling the city’s urban development “from Victorian London to the Swinging ’60s; from the Battle of Britain to Punk; from the Festival of Britain to the 2012 Olympics; from the foggy cobbled streets to the architectural masterpieces of the millennium; from rough pubs to private drinking clubs; from royal weddings to raves, from the charm of the East End to the wonders of Westminster; from Chelsea girls to Hoxton hipsters; [and] from the power to glory.” Alas, Harrison fell by the wayside again.
But on Saturday, slightly over a year since our last meeting, there he was again—propped up on a book cover in one of my favourite stores. No longer a mere page in a broader book but rocking the cover and the content inside.
I thumbed through the book in contemplation of whether to finally go down the Harrison rabbit hole and was intrigued to learn that despite being “hailed as one of the best guitarists of his era,” Harrison was “mysterious and misunderstood” compared to Lennon and McCartney who largely overshadowed him. His understated nature was likely the product of him being the youngest Beatle and his “working-class Liverpool upbringing” which often made him “the butt of jokes from his bandmates.” According to the book, he wrote dozens of songs but “typically, was allowed to contribute only one or two” per album.
My favourite Beatles song, Here Comes The Sun, was one of them (which only piqued my interest in him further). But before committing to reading his entire biography, I decided to look him up online. My research proved fascinating—and entertaining as hell.
First things first, whether he was suited up, rocking a leather jacket or glasses as “fun as the era,” Harrison was an effortless trendsetter. He always looked cool.
Good Nature, Signature Style
Beyond affirming Alexa Chung’s claims that Harrison was a “natural-born clothes-horse,” I learned his inherent good nature was his signature style across the board. A brilliant example of this was his response to his first wife, model Pattie Boyd, dating (and later marrying) his close friend and fellow musician Eric Clapton. In a 2022 article by People Magazine, Boyd—who remained close to Harrison until his untimely passing in 2001—recalls his reaction to the news as follows:
“He said, “Well, I'm glad you're going off with Eric instead of some idiot.””
I had to laugh at the uncommon level of maturity and British nonchalance in wishing the best to his ex-spouse in striking up a relationship with one of his closest friends mere weeks after their divorce. But I was mostly impressed.
I was equally more amused—and impressed—when I read this:
“George would jokingly refer to himself ever after as “the husband-in-law” in their presence. The threesome even celebrated Christmas together that same year. When she tied the knot with Clapton in 1979, Harrison was on hand at the reception, serenading the newlyweds with an impromptu jam alongside his old bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.”
Pretty wild turnaround considering Clapton had been pursuing Boyd for quite some time before she got divorced—he even admitted to writing his megahit Layla for her. In any case, Boyd eventually split with Harrison when the two amicably agreed they had grown apart and thus Harrison had no qualms with her moving on with his friend.
But Harrison’s reaction has been described as “shockingly good-natured.” And based on an array of articles I’ve read over the past few days, many people attribute his spirituality (he was known as “the spiritual Beatle”) to being part of what made him so good-natured.
Another brilliant example of Harrison’s unwavering good humour was his banter in the aftermath of the 1999 stabbing that almost killed him. Harrison nearly suffered a similar fate to John Lennon at the hands of a deranged fan—only in his case the attempted murderer managed to evade security and get into his home. Harrison was stabbed forty times after he courageously charged at the intruder but failed to disarm him.
Harrison’s wife, Olivia, struck the intruder with a lamp to get him off her husband, at which point the intruder started chasing her. But she recalls fondly how Harrison’s “humour and wit” overshadowed the grave incident with him joking in the aftermath:
“Just when he got off of me, I was thinking, “Oh good, now I have to go fight him.””
And when questioned by police about the nature of the crime, Harrison allegedly said:
“It wasn’t a burglar, and he certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”
(FYI the Traveling Wilburys “were a British-American supergroup active from 1988 to 1991 consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.”)
It takes a hell of a good nature to make light of such a horrific attack, let alone make a comedy bit of it. And speaking of good nature, I can’t help but associate Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun with the ultimate morning wake-up ritual. Enter, “sunrise alarm clocks.”
Sunrise Alarm Clocks
“Rise and shine” has taken on a new meaning since I started using a sunrise alarm clock. Back in January 2022, I booked a few coaching sessions with Allegra Stein—who brings Harrison-level cool to the coaching industry—and the most unexpected benefit I reaped was rooted in her advice to ditch my iPhone as a morning alarm.
At the time, I was struggling with the typical winter funk most Canadians face at some point during what can be a “long, cold, lonely winter.” When the days are short and the darkness is vast, it can be challenging to keep your energy up. Sure, things start out on a joyful note in the lead-up to the holidays but come January, once the hype is behind us, some days can be a bit of a slog.
Back in 2022, I was finding it particularly slog-ish to summon my energy in the morning. And I couldn’t figure out how to combat the effect of “waking up in dark.” That’s when Allegra piqued my interest with her suggestion to get a sunrise alarm clock.
If you haven’t heard of a sunrise alarm clock, it’s ultimately an alarm clock that simulates sunrise—in your bedroom. It makes waking up feel natural and you can add sounds like birds chirping to enhance your sensory experience. You can dig into the research on the benefits these alarm clocks have on our circadian rhythms, but I will say anecdotally, their calming effect cannot be overstated.
“Unlike traditional alarms that typically jolt people awake with a burst of loud, disorienting noise, dawn simulators can “enhance the wake-up experience,” said David Neubauer, a sleep expert and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University.”
The model I have is super basic—I ordered it on Amazon for around $50. It’s actually meant for kids but I love it, especially since it can’t be connected to my phone. There are plenty of models that could be but I swear adding a phone to the mix would strip away the essence of “waking up naturally.”
However, if you’re happy to spend a bit extra, I would consider getting a non-plastic version. Ideally, something made of sustainable materials that looks and feels more earthy. In hindsight, I wish I’d done this and would like to upgrade in the future. But I’m happy with my basic version in the meantime.
All that said, if you’re looking for a zen way to welcome the day, I invite you to try this George Harrison-style “here comes the sun” approach. The way the “sunshine” gradually bathes your bedroom is as harmonious as the song itself. (Speaking of which, I want to learn how to play it on the piano.)
On the topic of suns and coming full circle, here’s a photo of Harrison and first-wife Pattie Boyd taken a few months before his passing in November 2001. Boyd says he popped in with gifts and they “played music and had some tea”—Harrison presumably knowing it would be the last time. Sweet, right?
I myself have come full circle in my “third times the charm” quest to go down the Harrison rabbit hole. And as a proud new owner of his latest biography, I dare say it’s bound to be a success.
Thanks for reading and have a wonder-full week,
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☕️ Let me know if you visit Montreal & we can grab coffee or tea.