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Fans continued to send George Harrison thank-you letters for “My Sweet Lord” well into the 1980s.

George Harrison brought spirituality to popular music with his 1970 song “My Sweet Lord.”

He began his spiritual journey after his musical guru Ravi Shankar gave him spiritual texts and taught him that God is sane. Suddenly, George would have been happy to throw away his marriage and famous band to learn more from Shankar.

However, George left neither the Beatles nor his wife. Instead, he incorporated religious themes into songs like “Within You Without You” and “Long Long Long.” For the album cover of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandGeorge added images of revered gurus of the Hindu faith as “pointers to the spiritual aspect” of him.

However, George really showed the world his spirituality in My Sweet Lord. He had no idea the fans would accept the song and even thank him for it.

In his 1980 memoir me mineGeorge wrote that the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 18th-century funk and gospel version of the hymn “Oh Happy Day” inspired “My Sweet Lord.”

In the lyrics, George repeats part of a Hindu mantra “Hare Krishna… Krishna, Krishna” and adds it to the Christian “Hallelujah”.

in the Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George HarrisonJoshua M. Greene quotes George as saying, “I wanted to show that ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Hare Krishna’ are pretty much the same thing. I did the voices singing ‘Hallelujah’ and then the switch to ‘Hare Krishna’ so people are chanting the Maha mantra before they know what’s going on.”

George opined that “My Sweet Lord” is “a western pop equivalent of a mantra, repeating the sacred names over and over”.

Greene wrote: “The lyrics explained George’s intention to embark on a spiritual quest. ‘I[…]really
want to see you,” he sang. God was invisible to him but remained ‘sweet’ despite the agony of their separation.”

“My Sweet Lord” talked about George’s newfound purpose in finding God. However, he still feared that its religious content would offend some people.

One critic wrote that the song was “one of the boldest moves in the history of popular music” but had the potential to become “a fatal career move”. Greene continued, “The audacity was the raw emotion of George’s devotion to God. The gamble was whether fans would still accept him after realizing the depth of him
Dedication.”

George chose it because no one else was infusing religion into popular music. “Back then,” George later explained, “nobody in the pop world was committed to that kind of music. I felt there was a real need for this. So instead of sitting around waiting for someone else, I decided to do it myself.

“A lot of times we’re like, ‘Well, I agree with you, but I’m not really going to stand up and be counted either
risky.’ Everyone is always trying to keep a low profile, to stay commercial. So I thought, ‘Just do it.’ No one else is, and I’m sick of all these young people just fooling around and wasting their lives, you know.”

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in the me mine, George wrote that he had put a lot of thought into making My Sweet Lord. He said: “I would commit publicly and I expected a lot of people to go crazy about it. Many people fear the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ – it makes them angry for some strange reason.”

It all boiled down to fear of the unknown. “It’s kind of an instinct in people,” George explained in Martin Scorsese’s documentary. George Harrison: Life in the Material World. However, his instinct to represent something he loved won the battle.

In his memoir, George continued, “The point was, I was craning my neck on the chopping block because I had something to fulfill, but at the same time I was like, ‘Nobody’s saying it; I wish someone else would do it.’

“You know, everyone does ‘Be-Bob-Baby’ – OK, it might be good to dance to, but I was naïve and thought we should express our feelings to each other – not suppress them and keep holding them back. Well it was what I felt and why should I be unfaithful to myself? I’ve come to believe that when you feel something strongly enough, it’s important to say it.”

That message resonated with fans, as did the song’s spiritual message. Greene wrote: “As soon as the record hit the radio, letters addressed to George Harrison began pouring into the London Temple from all parts of the world.

“It seemed like a lot of people were waiting for someone to confirm their own search for God, and since the day the record was released, letters of thanks started coming and never stopped.”

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