My Sweet Lord

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a blog entry by Canadian music broadcaster and historian Alan Cross about a new music video set to a 1970 hit by the former Beatles member, George Harrison (1943-2001).

The video for “My Sweet Lord” celebrates last year’s 50th anniversary of the song and the triple album All Things Must Pass, Harrison’s first solo release after the Beatles’ breakup.

Over the years, the song has been covered by numerous musicians including Nina Simone, Brian Wilson, and Edwin Starr to name just a few, as well as a 2002 tribute performance by Elton John, James Taylor, Ravi Shankar, Sting, Anoushka Shankar, and others.

Along with archive footage of Harrison, the 2021 short film for “My Sweet Lord” features 40 actors, musicians and other celebrities making brief appearances. Actor Mark Hamill dispatches “The Bureau” agents played by American actors and comedians Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer into the field to “see something.”

In some ways, I feel like the film is a commentary on modern society and our collective lack of focus and attention on beauty and other things that truly matter. Understandably, the stresses of a nearly two-year-long and worsening pandemic have exacerbated this distractedness. Yet, beauty is there if we stop to see it; it’s always there.

Harrison initially offered the song to American R&B, soul and funk musician Billy Preston (1946-2006), with whom he and English blues and rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Eric Clapton had been with in Denmark in 1969. In 1970, Harrison also recorded the piece. His version was a massive worldwide hit in 1971 and remains one of his most popular post-Beatles works. “My Sweet Lord” is an homage to the Hindu god Krishna, written while Harrison experimented with writing gospel songs. To me, the alternating use of the Christian and Jewish “hallelujah” with the “Hare Krishna” of the Hare Krishna faith (the latter with which Harrison related) weaves a sense of global unity that adds to the inclusive and positive vibe of the song.

“My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

My sweet Lord
Hm, my Lord
Hm, my Lord

I really want to know you
Really want to go with you
Really want to show you Lord
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to see you
Really want to see you
Really want to see you, Lord
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hallelujah)

I really want to know you (Hallelujah)
Really want to go with you (Hallelujah)
Really want to show you Lord (ahh)
That it won’t take long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hmm (Hallelujah)
My sweet Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet Lord (Krishna, Krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (Hare Hare)

Now, I really want to see you (Hare Rama)
Really want to be with you (Hare Rama)
Really want to see you Lord (ahh)
But it takes so long, my Lord (Hallelujah)

Hm, my Lord (Hallelujah)
My, my, my Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)
Hm, hm (Guru Brahma)
Hm, hm (Guru Vishnu)
Hm, hm (Guru Devo)
Hm, hm (Maheśvaraḥ
My sweet Lord (Guru Sākṣāt)
My sweet Lord (Para Brahma)
My, my, my Lord (Tasmai Srī)
My, my, my, my Lord (Guru Namah)
My sweet Lord (Hare Rama)

[fade]
(Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Hare Krishna)
My sweet Lord (Krishna Krishna)
My Lord (Hare Hare)”

(“My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison.
Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

Today, during our twice-weekly meditation practice with our teacher Padma, she mentioned having listened to the 1968 album The Beatles (aka the White Album) at the recommendation of one of our group members. She highlighted the line, “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright…” from the track “Revolution 1” to emphasize the message of this week’s mantra meditation. I later thought of the serendipity in these two Beatles-related pieces having come together for me in a week that has been heavy with memories of grief along with a very uncertain outlook on the global health situation due to the latest COVID-19 variant. These can be discouraging times, and as I wrote on Wednesday, such feelings can be magnified in the Christmas/holiday season by society’s value on always putting a brave face forward. It’s the same custom that prompts us to habitually say we’re okay when asked how we are, even when we’re not okay.

“My Sweet Lord” and the new video combine to make a lovely diversion from the problems of the day, or that can enhance a day that’s going well. (And, digging into hope, the album title is a good reminder of the adage, “These things too shall pass.”) In whichever way your day has been going, I wish you a gentle Friday.

And I hope you “see” what the agents were sent for…

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the music video from the official George Harrison YouTube/VEVO channel:

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