“Awaiting on You All” by George Harrison

64. Song Nos. 642 and 643: “Awaiting on You All,” George Harrison
All Things Must Pass, 1970; Early Takes Volume 1, 2012

George is, hands down, my favorite Beatle. And he was the first time I grieved a musician’s death with a sincerity and profound sense of loss I didn’t know I could feel for someone who’s essentially a stranger.

His solo career yielded some of my favorite songs, from the charmingly poppy “Got My Eyes Set on You” to the more chill zen garden of “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll),” from the absolutely gorgeous meditations of “All Things Must Pass” to the raucous party of “What Is Life” that always merits a few repeats and is exactly what an infectiously animated celebration should sound like. I mean, of course I like The Beatles but I truly love George’s output.

I am not at all religious but it seems shitty to disparage something that other people build their whole world around, so I just don’t talk about it. (I totally get home-decor crosses as protective amulets, though, as does practically anyone living in a house with history.) My aversion to songs that invoke Jesus and The Lord and mentions of God not immediately followed by a blue streak is, I think, a thing I have a hard time keeping secret because it makes me so physically uncomfortable: I am fairly certain that I can’t hide what religious references in non-church music make my face do.

So it takes a lot of listening to override that knee-jerk reaction. Or it takes a much more spiritual interpretation of typically Christian terminology because I can totally get behind spirituality. Or, you know, it just takes a good fucking song.

And this is one good fucking song.

I mean, I understand why people find comfort and meaning in faith. At its very core, drilled down to the teachings of God’s only son, I love that earthier, more communal, everything-is-connected perspective The Man Jesus preaches that appeals to a societal unit rather than the individual. Even my heathen ass can appreciate the objective beauty of the gospel at its source, and I’d be more receptive to religion if more folks regarded it as that big-hearted moral compass than a punitive system.

And I think spiritual songs tend to express that better. “Awaiting on You All” strips away the doctrine, the procedures, the barriers that religion uses to inhibit the individual’s relationship with a divine entity that is everywhere because it’s breathed into all things. It’s immersive and unifying and simple, free of the trappings that make religion all too easily a weapon of manipulation rather than a path to peace.

All too often, we’re looking for what we think is the right way to approach a relationship with the divine when truly there is no prescribed well-trodden path: It’s a personal one that needs to be guided from within so it remains actively tended and appreciated and novel rather than passively trudged along with the rote memory of a sleepwalker and an authoritarian hyper-focus on rigidity that sucks all the magic right from the notion of eternal life and unconditional forgiveness.

Pair this song with watching “The Last Temptation of Christ” after a few Easter cocktails and you’ve got the closest I come to a spiritual epiphany. And it’s because that, I think, bringing the magical to the mundane is an underappreciated appeal to divine beauty that we could really use a return to. A sense of wonder is where humility is born, and I think we could all benefit from getting back in touch with being reminded that we’re all just celestial grains of sand destined for an infinite journey.

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