Lindsay McComb

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200 words on 2 years in Oakland

This is a true story of life in the Town

This is a true story of things that really happened. How we left Korea almost three years ago after two years living abroad. It was San Francisco or New York, and I just had a feeling about Oakland.

So we came to Oakland. And things were really difficult at first. At first we couldn’t find jobs that paid enough of the bills and we couldn’t the right people at the right time. Just the wrong ones. But we pushed though the year and persevered.

And things got better and also a little worse. And my brothers came to live with us for awhile. They came West for better lives, but I worry that things also got a little worse for them, too.

We found better people and better opportunities, and we kept writing. I drank lots of coffee in hip little cafes on this side of the Bay and the other. I went back to school.

We went to the beach sometimes, but it was always freezing, and I still haven’t been back to Oregon.

We went to the hospital too many times in two years, but that’s life, I guess. It’s life in Oakland, and it’d be life anywhere.

→ Also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
Bye Felicias

On cutting out the people that don’t make you better

It happened. It was great. It was lovely for awhile. But it’s the past. It’s over and gone. I’ve moved on.

It just feels so pretty okay now to not have to feel stressed, drained, used, or like I’m walking on eggshells when we’re hanging out. It feels great to spend my time with people who make me feel comfortable, happy, valued and accepted.

I used to be much more tolerant of negative and draining people in my life. Maybe it’s because I didn’t take my own feelings into account or listen to my gut instincts. Maybe I was just naive or blind to what red flags actually looked like. Of course, I had to learn this all the hard way.

It took me awhile to understand that there are people out there who are self-imposed victims, always looking for sympathy and always ready with a new sob story; it’s always someone else’s fault. There are people out there who actually seem to believe that life plays out like a movie — a movie they’re staring in, naturally — and become infuriated and frustrated with the “supporting actors” (who obviously don’t have real or complex lives because they’re merely bit players who serve as plot devices for them) when things do not play out like they imagined. There are people out there that cannot actually form deep emotional bonds to other human beings, grasping desperately at nothing and projecting their own self-hated onto others. There are people out there that can get better through help, yet they refuse.

Friendships do come and go. People do grow and change. That’s natural. I had a few breakups and falling outs and interpersonal conflicts that were real doozies. And I felt terrible and guilty and blamed myself for a long time. Some of it was warranted, but most of it wasn’t. I know that I made my share of mistakes.

It’s extremely painful when you try to hold onto a relationship that you once valued, and it winds up being the very thing that’s dragging you down. Fights happen, but when they include outright derision, lying and contempt, that’s a dealbreaker. There’s a huge difference between disagreement and disrespect.

I read once that you’re the average of the five people you spend your time with. So I asked myself: Why spend time with people who make you feel like garbage? Maybe it’s time to take out the trash and focus your energy on people who make you better. They’re out there. Could it be this simple, that if they don’t act like friends, then they aren’t your friends?

Sometimes you just gotta say bye Felicia to the people that don’t make you or your life better.

→ Also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
How to be yourself
"The things that make you weird are also the things that make you great."

I’ve been trying to be more true to myself lately. It’s an ongoing thing I’ve been working on for say — half of my life — but in the past few years I’ve really taken it on seriously. Partly because it feels horrible NOT being true to myself.

Middle school, high school, college — all fucking terrible. And not just because teenagers are cruel bastards to each other (they are), but also because I was a cruel bastard to myself. Everyone was self-conscious, unsure, anxious and worried about fitting in during those years, but I took all that fear and uncertainty and turned it inward where it festered into a monster of self-loathing.

I held back so much of myself and wound up doing too many things that not only weren’t me, but that just plain sucked. Like any teenager/human being, I just wanted to fit in. I already felt like I had the weirdo deck stacked against me, so why make it any harder on myself? I basically steamrolled some of the best parts of my personality, for the better part of a decade, because I was afraid of what being authentic meant. Now I’m undoing all the unnecessary damage I did to myself. It’s hard enough going through puberty as it is. There’s no need to crucify your own self esteem while you’re at it.

Now that I’m 30-years-old and in grad school, I’m finding that the weird little idiosyncrasies that I would have covered up and buried deep down, even just a few years ago, are the things that make me interesting. To no one’s surprise but my own, people think I’m pretty okay and actually invite me to things. These are people that actually know the truth about me: that I really like collecting random trivia facts, that I love sleeping in and need like 12 hours of sleep a day to feel human, that I threw up on an elephant once, that I buy almost all of my clothes from South Korea, and I drink coffee like a fiend.

No one seems to care that I like to spend my evenings reading about Russian criminal tattoos and analyzing rap lyrics while eating Filipino comfort food. No one seems bothered that I don’t drink alcohol because reasons — I still got invited to go on the party bus! I think people actually like me — for me. And you’d better believe that feels better than a hundred invitations to parties where you don’t know anyone, or awkward happy hours, or pity prom dates, or boring conversations with girls who are more popular than you.

Now I haven’t completely mastered this whole “being yourself” thing, but I’ve at least got it down conceptually. Being me is great. Being you is great. Remember that everyone is struggling too — even the most confident people still have to fake it sometimes. But confidence is sexy. Especially when it’s combined with authenticity. And if your authentic self is weird? All the better. Because what’s normal anyway?

Blending in is boring and sad and terrible. It may feel like the path of least resistance for awhile, but eventually, that awesome you that’s all bottled up inside is going to want to break out. So let it out. The sooner the better, because not only are you missing out on being more you, the world is missing out on you too.

Everyone, take note: the things that make you weird are also the things that make you great.

→ Also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
On perseverance and queer gyms: How to unlearn learned helplessness
 Signing the Hundo wall after hitting  100 workouts in 2015

Signing the Hundo wall after hitting 100 workouts in 2015

I don’t know exactly where I went wrong, but somewhere along the way I pieced it together that if I was good at something it was because I was just inherently good at something, and if I was bad at something, I was just bad at it. End of story.

Results get praised and closers get coffee.

The lesson life taught me was that no one cares how much work you put into something unless you get results.

As a child then, I absorbed the praise for a job well done, but somehow missed the whole, “I’m so proud of how hard you worked.” I’m sure it must have been there, but for whatever reason, it never stuck. Especially when it came to sports.

When I was 5 or 6 I was in love with baseball. I dreamed of being the first woman baseball player. I’d play it all the time in our backyard with the neighborhood kids, and didn’t care how good or bad I was. It was just fun.

But after my family moved when I was in third grade, I became shy and self-conscious, especially when it came to sports. Even more so when I got glasses — glasses that became a dodgeball magnet in gym class. I was often picked last in gym — probably more because of how shy I was, not because of how bad I was. But it only served to make me feel worse and worse about my ability. Once, when I was 9, my gym teacher put me in timeout because I couldn’t serve the volleyball correctly and kept hitting it into the other courts. I cried in the corner for 15 minutes. Maybe it wasn’t the final nail in the coffin, but it was pretty traumatic.

I dreaded gym class for years, but managed to slog my way through by feigning indifference and half-assing my way through everything. I was resigned to the fact that I sucked at sports. Even though I secretly loved when we played field hockey or did yoga. But! The popular kids were good at sports and I was just the dorky girl with glasses. The social hierarchies had been formed, and I would forever be bad at sports. The end.

Fast forward 20 years later and I decide that I wanted to join a gym. A gym with weight lifting and burpees and AMRAPs. I’ve been working really hard to overcome some of my old fears and insecurities, and face them head on. As part of learning and relearning more positive patterns of thought, I came to realize that I hadn’t really learned how to persevere. I had learned how to give up when I wasn’t naturally good at something. I had learned helplessness, especially when it came to athleticism, so naturally, that was the best place to begin unlearning my learned helplessness.

Luckily there’s a gym in my neighborhood that’s truly amazing. And having the right environment and people encouraging me has been a huge piece of my growing success. The Perfect Sidekick is an LGBTQ gym (that’s hetero-friendly!), and the focus at TPS is on helping people feel good about themselves and their bodies, regardless of their gender, age, weight, sexual orientation — whatever. It’s designed to be a safe and encouraging space for people to be themselves.

When I initially contacted The Perfect Sidekick, I told them about how much I hated sports as a kid, but I wanted a change. I was sick of the myths that I had told myself and bought into — the belief that I was no good at anything athletic. I wanted to do this for me and no one else. I just wanted to feel strong in myself. It wasn’t about being the best athlete ever, but about being better than I used to be and proving to myself that,“Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” It turns out, I would be in great company.

Lessons on perseverance, brought to you by The Perfect Sidekick

  1. The first step is to show up. The second step is to keep showing up. TPS has a wall where members can write their names after 100 sessions. I’m almost one year in, and currently at 95 sessions. My goal this year wasn’t to lose weight — it was to show up and get my name on that wall. And in the process of showing up, little by little, I’m getting stronger and working it longer and longer each time. If I hadn’t faced my fears and shown up to the boxing class that first time, I’d never have known how much I love punching shit.
  2. Great coaches and great mentors make such a big difference. Having people who know how to support you and encourage you to make progress is so critical. At first, I was embarrassed when I did something wrong. Now, I’m actively asking for help and making sure my form is right. I’m more comfortable making mistakes because I know and trust that the trainers are there to help me get better. It’s not just about the trainers kicking our butts, but about getting the right kind of encouragement to keep trying.
  3. Starting small yields huge results. At first, my goal was just to get my ass to the gym. And once I got there, I’d fall back into the old trap of feeling bad about myself because I couldn’t lift as much weight or do as many push ups as everyone else. But thanks to the great trainers (see #2) who help me tailor the workouts to wherever my current level is, I start small and work my way up incrementally. Before, I’d want to give up when the getting got too hard. Now I want to push through it. And the more I push myself — even just a tiny bit more, the better it feels.Holy shit, that dopamine rush when I make it just “one more time.”

Not only do I feel better about myself physically, I feel like failure is no longer terrifying. I don’t have to hold back for fear of making a mistake or looking bad, or because someone is so much better than me. It’s not important anymore. What’s important is I’m getting better. I want to try, and I want to get better and better, little by little.

This isn’t just for the gym, but really all aspects of life. Perseverance feels just as good, if not better than outright success. When success just happens, it’s fine, but it’s always a bit hollow. But real results, as I’m learning, come from real work. And that shit feels amazing.

→ Also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
Embracing ambiguity, rapid prototyping and lazy Monday mornings
  Rapid prototyping  a huggably soft car seat

Rapid prototyping a huggably soft car seat

This, my friends, is the life of a DMBA student

I woke up this Monday morning at exactly 11 am. Just in time for a video call with my innovation team. I joined the call in my pjs and with serious bedhead. Normally, I’m a big believer in dressing for success and looking the part etc. etc. But after spending the last four days straight and countless other hours together this semester, they’ve begun to feel a bit like family. And as such, they’re allowed to see my messy morning hair.

Grad school: where Monday is the new Saturday.

This fall, I started my first semester in the Design Strategy MBA program at California College of Arts. It was a serendipitous find — as I’d been struggling to find a way to pursue higher level design while also remaining true to my journalistic roots. I wanted to learn how to think differently, tell better stories, and solve bigger problems. And so far I’m on my way.

The DMBA program is all about applying design techniques that include customer-centered research, prototyping, critique, iteration, as well as business strategies and metrics. Classes meet once a month, Thursday-Sunday, from 9–5 pm. There are five residencies each semester. And while it seems like I should have a lot of free time in-between each residency, I really don’t. It’s a full-time grad school program, and I allot a good portion of my daily schedule to team meetings, research, reading, writing papers, making prototypes and iterating the crap out of them.

This past weekend in my fourth residency, I analyzed income statements for Twitter, worked on seating solutions for autonomous vehicles, put on a musical skit about cash flow statements, and drank approximately 120 million cups of coffee.

This semester, I’ve learned the deeper value of asking, “How might we…” and the economic structure and supply chain logistics of fast fashion retailers. I’ve learned half a dozen new ways to prototype, how to map out customer journeys, uncover pain points, and the value of a positive no. I’ve learned how to successfully read a balance sheet, how to ground an assessment, and how to create a signature experience. I’m learning how to fail better and make systems more intuitive and more enjoyable.

Most of all, I’m learning how to embrace ambiguity and to enjoy lazy Monday mornings while I still can.

Also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
You are better for having been broken
 Via  Instagram

You are better for having been broken. You are the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. You, my friend, are wabi sabi, incarnate.

You are stronger for having your heart fractured by someone who didn’t love you. You learned how to fill the gaps in with liquid gold.

You are braver for having walked away, liberated by the experience of painful truth. You learned how to find others who share your quest for authenticity.

You are happier for having said your peace, even when the words came out all wrong. You learned how to set boundaries, without walling yourself off entirely.

Perfection is boring. It’s stagnant and static. Imperfection is infinite because it’s the omnipresent quest. Imperfection is about always and forever getting better. It’s the constant state of improvement, forever and ever Amen.

My prescription for living? Slow burn. Slow burn because that way, you’ll never stop, and you’ll never completely burn out. You’ll always be imperfect, but you’ll always be improving, and always getting closer and closer to perfection.

Once upon a time, the universe was perfect. Perfect only because it was nothingness. A single point, it was empty and boring and limited. Until is exploded. That gorgeous mess of particles multiplied and varied. It split and broke into an ever-growing, ever-changing infinity moving towards entropy and chaos, deterioration into the primordial state, from which it starts all over again. Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Think about it: you are a universe unto yourself. From single cells, you grew until you were ready. Born of blood and pain, you made your imperfect entrance into this life. You cried until you learned how to be understood. You fell until you learned how to walk. You stayed close until you learned how to explore on your own. You mimicked until you learned how to create in your own right. You lived in a constant state of flux, growing and learning, failing and winning. Ebbing and flowing.

You didn’t stay that chubby little baby or that precocious Kindergartner forever. And thankfully, you didn’t remain a moody teenager for more than a couple of years.

All of those stages were impermanent. Remember? Just like this moment. All things must pass away.

Your life is not measured out in photos, or in social media tableaus. You are not that time he stood you up. You are not that time she spat out poisonous words. You are not that grade in Chemistry. Or that party you weren’t invited to. Or that patronizing shade stare. You are not a series of still moments, but an ever-flowing river of past and present and future.

You are not the sum of your failures and weaknesses. You are the sum of your capacity to become better than you are right now.

Never forget that you are better for having been broken, because the cracks are how the light gets in.

→ Read the original piece in Issue No. 1 of Vahid Magazine.

An exercise in scraping perfection for good enough
 
  Flaubert   via This Isn’t Happiness

Flaubert via This Isn’t Happiness

I talked to David today about my quote unquote writer’s block over slices of reheated pizza. With the two of us, we’re just as likely to talk about graphic novel scripts over serious steaming cups of tea, as we would be to argue about whether or not braggadocious is a real word while browsing grocery aisles. Ah, the writer’s life.

Truthfully, I’d been a bit snippy all day. I’ve had a couple of articles on my mind for weeks and nothing has come out even close to useable. I even took an extra-long shower this morning (where I get ALL my good ideas). Nothing. The only epiphany I had was the realization that if I’m lucky, I’ll live at least 50–70 more years. I should have plenty of time to accomplishsomething.

Three cups of coffee produced nothing but a pounding headache.

So David and I are talking, and I tell him about how the past few weeks have been pure writing hell for me. That all I can seem to produce is dreck.

What he was essentially suggesting to me was learning how to accept less-than-perfect in order to find perfection.

“How often do you freewrite?” He asked.

“Not that often. I used to go to a coffee shop during my lunch breaks at work and bring a notebook. I basically filled up two-thirds of it writing and rewriting that George Harrison article a little while back. Since then, I’ve, like, given up.”

The problem, I explained, was that I fell in love with George Harrison’s solo music recently, and I wanted to write the perfect piece to showcase how incredibly talented he was, how much his songwriting affected me, how it inspired me to be more present, and more connected to my spiritual side. But I felt like my writing didn’t show that, that I wasn’t able to properly convey my feelings and thoughts.

I rewrote that piece into the ground. And I think the final result wasTHPPTPHTPHPHHPH (fart sound).

“So I have this sense, this vision of what I want to say. But I have trouble verbalizing it. How do I fix this?” I asked.

“Step A:” he said matter-of-factly, “You are good. Step B: You are talented. Step C: Perfection is impossible. Impossible. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to get to a point where you have to shit or get off the pot…and mix metaphors. If you get to a point where you’re like, ‘Oh no, this isn’t good enough’ stop and take a break. Then say ‘fuck it’ and move on to more writing.”

Sometimes it’s okay to just leave it at “good enough” for the time being. A good writer is never finished anyway. There are always edits to be made, words to tweak, paragraphs to rework. It’s like how in math, space can be be divided infinitely, or how pi goes on forever. You get closer and closer, but never fully arrive. That right there is the whole beauty of writing. The perfection of imperfection.

What he was essentially suggesting to me was learning how to accept less-than-perfect in order to find perfection.

Zen and the art of blogging?

“Anything you write is going to be good enough,” he said. “Anything. Sometime’s it’s just gotta get done. Just get it done. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That comes later.”

 → also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment
Who edits the editor?
                                      Image via   Wizzy Wig

                                    Image via Wizzy Wig

Nobody’s writing is perfect. But when you’re an editor, your writing is supposed to be pretty darn close. And when you’re on a deadline, even more so.

Robert Doran sums up my editing conundrum over at Catherine, Caffeinated: “People often think that if you can write you can edit — and vice versa. But writing and editing are very different skills, and competency in one doesn’t guarantee ability in the other.”

Writing is creation. Editing is problem-solving. They’re two different mental processes. And while they are distinct, they’re not incompatible. They can work together harmoniously. It just takes a little practice.

So while I can’t guarantee that your writing will be 100% error-proof when you self-edit, these five tips will definitely get you a lot closer to perfection.(Protip: Remember that “definitely” is definitely not spelled “definAtely”.)

1. Take a break

This is an obvious, but often overlooked tip.

Sometimes all it takes is a little distance, a little space from that paragraph you’ve been tinkering with. Go for a walk, get a cup of coffee, watch something on Netflix. If you don’t have the luxury of time, even just a quick trip to the bathroom can give you enough mental (and more importantly emotional) distance and a fresh pair of eyes — eyes that are more likely to catch that awkward phrasing or misplaced comma.

2. Read like a reader

Imagine, just for a second, that you are not you. You are the reader, the intended audience. Does what you’re reading make sense? Is it interesting all the way through? Does it drag in some places or sound awkward in others? Does it have the information you want and need? How does it make you feel? Would it leave you with a lasting impression?

When reading as someone in the intended audience, it’s not necessary to focus on grammatical and spelling errors, but rather to key in on content and style. Save the typo hunt for the next read-through.

3. Omit needless words

In The Elements of Style, William Strunk advises writers to get rid of unnecessary words. He said that, “A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”

A great way to check for errors and mistakes is to read through your writing with the intention of trimming out extra details or useless adverbs. You’d be surprised what you notice when you focus on making sure that every word counts. (Protip: If you want to become an amazing writer, read The Elements of Style. Twice.)

4. Read out loud

Repeated words, missing commas or embarrassing homophone errors: I rarely miss these kinds of things when I’m proofing or copy editing for another person. Yet for myself, I tend to skim, rush and make tiny typos that look bad. And also they make me feel bad. (Protip: “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.” For the love of God, please don’t mix it up with the possessive pronoun, and homophone, “its.”)

An easy way to catch those kinds of mistakes is to read your writing aloud. If you’re in an open floor plan office or a coffee shop, you can just whisper. The point is, when you read out loud versus silently, your brain processes the information differently. And that shift in thinking will no doubt help you notice just how terrible that sentence actually sounds.

5. Be ruthless

This is one of the most difficult things to do as a writer. It’s hard to be detached from your work, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul and sweat into it. But if you really want your writing to be the best it can be, you have to be ruthless.

Cut out passive sentences, rewrite that phrase until it works, make sure you’re only using one space after the period and not two. Don’t cut corners, don’t skim, and don’t think it’s good enough. Go back and check it one more time. And then check it one more time after that.

And if you have time, get someone else to look at it too, because seriously, two pairs of eyes are always better than one. No matter how great an editor you are. (Protip: Great writers and editors are allowed to break the rules because they know the rules so well.)

Lindsay McCombComment
Realizing George Harrison

I’ve had my mind set on George Harrison lately.

I recently got back into the Beatles a few months ago, thanks in part to the mashup masterpiece that is LoveLove, for the uninformed, is a remixed compilation of Beatles songs used in the the Cirque de Soleil show that came out in 2006.

I had a copy of it for nearly as long, but hadn’t really given it much more than a cursory listen. One morning during my commute, Love seemed like it would hit the spot. And it hit the spot all week — all the way in and also on the way home.

It was as if I was hearing many of these songs for the first time. Partly because they were all remixes or demo versions, but also because I was finally hearing things with a little more perspective. When I was a kid, I always skipped the “George” songs — the sitar-y overly transcendental ones in favor for the poppy Lennon/McCartney tunes. I just wasn’t ready for ol’ Georgie boy.

So I went back through all my Beatles albums, focusing on the “George” songs, listening closely for his guitar parts and vocal contributions. During this research, I got way into the White Album and Abbey Road — this was when Harrison’s songwriting really began to blossom. Then I started digging through YouTube videos of old Beatles concerts, interviews and jam sessions. Finally, I got my hands on Harrison’s solo stuff.

Finding his music was like running into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I had some catching up to do.

“Let me in here, I know I’ve been here,
Let me into your heart.”
-George Harrison, “I’d Have You Anytime”

Slight genius or dark horse

I read a piece once that described George Harrison as a “lesser genius,” which seems like a pretty shitty thing to say, but really, Harrison was more genius than most of us will ever be. I mean, his first solo album, All Things Must Pass has got to be up there with the best rock albums of all time. A triple-LP worth of genius there.

And while he may have been overshadowed by the songwriting powerhouse of John Lennon and Paul McCartney at one point, his solo stuff is deep and authentic. It gives me the feelsAll Things Must Pass is enough proof of his incredible prowess as a musician, and is by far my favorite solo album by any ex-Beatle.

And while I don’t love all of Harrison’s solo endeavors (especially some of the 80s stuff), I do love the fact that he wrote of his authentic self.

Harrison’s music resonates of his life, his feelings and of his moments in time. It’s honest. He sings about not wanting to be defined only as a Beatle. He sings about his effort to be a better person. He sings about his frustration with interpersonal relationships. He makes fun of himself and his copyright lawsuits. He even takes a little dig at Frank Sinatra (Possibly because Sinatra once said “Something” was one of the best love songs ever written — but attributed it to Lennon/McCartney).

He was always a Skiffle man at heart.

“To write a song is, to me, more a case of being the vehicle
to get over that feeling of that moment, of that time.”
-George Harrison

 

Be here now

I can scarcely believe that All Things Must Pass was made almost 50 years ago. Strip down Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production, and a lot of the songs sound pretty fresh. Songs like “I’d Have You Anytime,” “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp,” or “Beware of Darkness” could have been written by bands like Grizzly Bear or Arcade Fire. I hear Harrison’s guitar style echo in the likes of Wilco, Beck and even Sufjan Stevens.

My current George Harrison must-listen list:

  1. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” | The guitar solo — ‘nuff said. And thechugga chugga bass line that characterized so many later rock songs. I challenge you to listen to his live performance of it at on the Concert for Bangladesh album and not smile every time he croons, “I don’t know why-ayyy.”
  2. “Here Comes the Sun” | This song all but literally melts my heart. Sometimes I secretly listen to it over and over so that I’ll be able to get the words just right for when I sing it to my future children. I like listening to Harrison perform it live because it has a more folksy feel, but the Beatles version is good too. For live versions, listen closely for some excellent acoustic guitar work.
  3. “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” and “My Sweet Lord” | Though religious, these songs show an honest approach to connecting with something greater than ourselves. No matter what you believe in, you can respect that. The calm, yet uplifting melodies serve as a perfect vessel for sharing Harrison’s search for truth. Respect.
  4. “Dark Horse” | It seems like just about everyone hated Harrison’s 1974Dark Horse. His tour was mocked, his album got scathing reviews — I actually really like it. Particularly the title track. I got the 2014 remastered album, which includes an amazing acoustic version. But even the original with Harrison’s rough, gritty voice is good. It’s good because it just exudes the pain and frustration he was going through at that time — dealing with a failed marriage, substance abuse, and living up to the expectations that everyone had for him. What can I say? I dig brutal honesty.
  5. “Any Road” | Harrison’s last album, Brainwashed, is very mellow, very thoughtful. Finished with the help of his son Dhani and producer Jeff Lynne, after his death in 2001, Brainwashed seems to be an album of life lessons. The song, “Any Road” is a folksy tune full of all kinds of lyrical truth bombs. I like it because it gives me hope for a life well-lived and well-traveled. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
  6. “Beware of Darkness” (Acoustic) and “Be Here Now” | Both of these songs have an amazing ability to ground me. Sage advice, wrapped in simple melodies. It became pretty clear that George Harrison’s interest in spirituality was not a fad or passing fancy, and both of these songs beautifully demonstrate Harrison’s quest for truth and a higher meaning in life.

There were so many honorable mentions, that I decided to summarize them in a few words:

  • “Simply Shady” and “Maya Love” | Full of soul and edge.
  • “Let it Down” (Acoustic) and “I’d Have You Anytime” | Music to make out to. Like whoa.
  • “Living in the Material World” | The lyrical cadence is a bit quirky in some parts, but I like it all the same.
  • “Ding Dong Ding Dong” | I like to listen to this while I wash dishes.
  • “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” | Fools illusions everywhere.
  • “Got My Mind Set on You” | Catchy, cute and a childhood favorite (especially the music video).
  • “Crackerbox Palace” | Hated it at first, but the chorus is damn catchy.
  • “All Things Must Pass” | Because the sunrise doesn't last all morning and neither do these lists.

 

Listen and let it roll

In a  video about the making of his last album, Brainwashed, Harrison said that “the problem with talking is, the more you say the more you bury yourself. It is very difficult to express what you feel in your heart. In a song though, because you have music and the value of sound, it touches places that other things don’t touch, it can stir you from a much deeper, subtle level.”

I could go on and on about why George Harrison’s music has had such a profound impact on my life, but I don’t think I’d ever be able to find the right words.

All I can say is: listen to it for yourself.

Listen to it carefully. Listen to the good songs over and over again. And give the not-so-good ones another chance. Seriously. Listen for the jokes and playful jabs. He trolled a lot in his music. Listen for the beautiful and meditative moments. Listen for the hot guitar licks.

But more than anything, listen for the truth.

And then watch this video.

 → also on Medium.com

Lindsay McCombComment