George Harrison and Henley

Harrison in Henley 197815 March 2016

Clive Radley, a Beatles fan writes:

Reading about the recent death of George Martin, the so-called fifth Beatle, reminded me of the Beatles’ Henley ‘connection’ – George Harrison lived there for many years. The local newspaper, Henley Standard, reported on 6 March that the Mayor of Henley is hoping to get a memorial garden built in the town for Harrison.

The paper writes, ‘Councillor Lorraine Hillier suggested using the green triangle of land in Bell Street, which developer Chesterton Commercial has offered to the town council free of charge if it agrees to maintain it’.

Speaking at a council’s town and community committee meeting, she said, according to the paper, ‘I would like to propose that the triangle is dedicated for a George Harrison memorial garden. We could plant a silver birch tree to tackle the pollution issues there.’

The Henley Standard also wrote: ‘The former Beatles guitarist moved to Friar Park in the Seventies. A memorial was first mooted in 2001 following his death but the idea of a statue did not appeal to his widow, Olivia.’ In a statement published in the Henley Standard, Mrs Harrison wrote, ‘A more appropriate way of honouring his memory in Henley would be to support a community project.’ This then led to the Music on the Meadows festival for young musicians.

Harrison’s last album, Brainwashed, released just after he died contained the song “Pisces Fish”, which includes many references to Henley and rowing. It begins:

Rowers gliding on the river
Canadian geese crap along the bank

And a part of the fourth stanza reads:

There’s a temple on an island
I think of all the Gods and what they feel

The first two lines in the sixth stanza go:

Blades go skimming through the water
I hear the coxon
[sic] shouting his instructions about

Following is the whole song, on YouTube:

One comment

  1. Re: Harrison’s use of “coxon [sic]” – although we in the sport of rowing always use ‘cox’, ‘coxon’ is an acceptable, albeit not much used, version. Both of course are shortened versions of the original ‘coxswain’, reckoned to derive from cock “ship’s boat” (from Old French “coque”) + swain “boy,” from Old Norse sveinn “boy”. The young lad who steered the boat.

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