In one of the loveliest quotes from any entertainer in 2021, music icon Paul McCartney says he still speaks to George Harrison – and in the most wonderful of ways.
McCartney, who is the youngest of the surviving Beatles at 78 (Ringo Starr is 80, as would’ve been John Lennon this year), recently spoke with NPR at length about his latest album, McCartney III. Within, host Mary Louise Kelly covers many topics with the living legend. As is often the case, the topic turns to McCartney’s beloved late bandmates that left us too soon.
McCartney often speaks fondly of George Harrison. Indeed, he considers his fellow Beatle “family” – and always will. Harrison left us after his battle with lung cancer came to an end in 2001. He was only 58 at the time. Today, in 2020, he would be 77 years old – the youngest of the most successful music group to ever exist.
Harrison hasn’t left Paul McCartney’s side, however. In fact, he lives on as a beautiful evergreen tree he gifted to McCartney before his death: one that conjures pleasant conversations as well as past memories.
Paul McCartney Speaks to George Harrison Through ‘a big fir tree and it’s by my gate’
The fir tree, which still grows at McCartney’s Peasmarsh home on his East Sussex, England estate, keeps Harrison close by.
“George was very into horticulture, a really good gardener,” McCartney tells NPR‘s All Things Considered. “So he gave me a tree as a present: It’s a big fir tree, and it’s by my gate.”
“As I was leaving my house this morning, I get out of the car, close the gate and look up at the tree and say, “Hi, George.” There he is, growing strongly,” the icon says of his continuing relationship with Harrison. “And you know, that takes me back to the time when I hitchhiked with him! They’re an ever-present presence, if that’s a way to say,” he adds of his late bandmates (Harrison and Lennon).
Host Mary Louise Kelly responds in kind, expressing her love for the “idea that they are like family. As the years go past, the things that annoy you and get on your nerves, it fades, and you’re able to remember the good times and the laughter and the conspiratorial grins,” she continues. “And I love the tree, that’s a great thing — that it greets you when you come in.”
“It’s lovely,” McCartney replies. “He gave it to me, so I just planted it. But then, as the years go by, every time I look at it I go, ‘That’s the tree George gave me.’ George has entered that tree for me. I hope he’s happy with that.”
McCartney Still Going Strong Despite COVID-19
As for Paul McCartney himself, the ongoing pandemic hasn’t slowed him down. If anything, it’s given him time to grow through his music.
“I was very lucky to be able to come to my studio and make some music, which took the edge off the whole quarantine thing,” he continues to NPR. “I would write a song, then I’d come in and record it. Or I’d say, ‘Wait a minute, what about that song I started last year, but never got round to finishing?’ So there was no worry attached [to my creative process]. If you’re making an album, what you might call a proper album, you’re concentrating on making sure it’s right. [But with] this project, I wasn’t concentrating [on that]. I was just [saying to myself], ‘Sounded good? Right. On to the next thing.”
“It’s got a very loose feel to it,” McCartney says of his latest, McCartney III. Listeners are responding to that looseness, too, as the album continues to garner critical praise.