Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Gratitude to George Harrison and Ravi Shankar (revisited) / A quiet transcendent joy that I can feel to this day

Just days after we graduated from high school in 1967, three of us -- Betts, Doris, and I, drove south from Redwood City to Monterey for the afternoon set of the Sunday portion of the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18.  We knew next to nothing about Ravi Shankar.  Tickets to his concert were the only ones left by the time we tried to buy tickets.  All the other concerts were sold out.  Betts and I and two of her friends had been at the last concert the Beatles gave at Candlestick Park.  The week before we had been to the Magic Mountain Music Festival and Fantasy Fair on Mt. Tamalpais and seen The Doors.  In my mind, I can still hear the drum and guitar opening of "Light My Fire" and remember how it felt to be walking around in the sublime sunshine on Mt. Tamalpais, looking out on the fog bank below.  

But those experiences, as exhilarating as they were, faded in the first moments I heard the sacred music of India in Monterey on that cloudy day when I was filled with a quiet transcendent joy I had never experienced before.  George Harrison attended the Monterey Pop Festival.  He had met Ravi Shankar in 1966 and studied the sitar with him.  They became lifelong friends.  George brought something of India to the Beatles.  Some of George's ashes were scattered in the Ganges River in 2001.


A few mornings ago when I was doing my daily yoga practice, I was moved to find "Chants of India," a CD by Ravi Shankar, produced by George Harrison.  At times I have listened to that CD as the background to my yoga practice but have not done so for some time.  

As I've said before, I'm not a religious person but I've been moved by aspects of all religious and spiritual traditions and the insights of those who remain outside of all traditions.  

There is something about music and chanting in languages that I don't understand that reaches parts of me that are otherwise inaccessible.  


Come to think of it, the first moments of hearing the Beatles on the radio in 1963 brought a certain transcendent joy to a 13-year-old girl who had very little joy in her life up to that point.



Anonymous said...

I love being reminded of Ravi Shankar's music. I got to hear him play on the first night of Woodstock. What a sound, straight to our hearts. Thank you for this.

Linda said...

I felt a little as if I were there. Thank you for sharing that memory and the music. I love it.

Pixie said...

I was born in 1962 and always felt like I had missed something big by being born later but my sisters were born in 1947 and seemed to have been completely unaffected by the sixties. Not sure why? My family? Our isolation in Germany and then northern Ontairo? Who knows.