Who knew that George Harrison once called the 1960s hippies in San Francisco “bums” and “spotty youth”?

It’s one of the revelations in George Harrison: Living in the Material World, the Martin Scorsese documentary on the legendary Beatle.

I just got around to watching the film, and one of the misrepresentations about Harrison that it clears up is that “the quiet Beatle” was some kind of out-there hippie mystic. It’s well known that Harrison became interested in meditation and Indian mysticism after he dropped LSD in the mid-1960s. This has been interpreted to mean that George Harrison was some kind of hippie.

But as the quote above about Haight-Ashbury shows, Harrison was much more a clear-eyed seeker that dippy flower child.

As Living in the Material World shows, Harrison got interested in Eastern religions because he wanted to see and feel God. He felt that his postwar Catholic upbringing in Liverpool had been rigidly dogmatic; thus he sought God through meditation, mantras and music. But in watching the film it becomes clear that Harrison was never a hippie or mystic, but a realist. He believed that God is real and that there are certain concrete things you can to to reach him.

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