Wow, the computer wanted tonight’s entry to be a little depressing.
When George Harrison was dying, he did the only thing he could do: he made some more music. Brainwashed was finished by Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison after George passed, but the bulk was done when he was still alive. Like Warren Zevon’s The Wind, George’s final album is generous, loving, philosophical, and occasionally angry. There is always a sense of a life unfinished in things like this, a sense of injustice that someone so wonderfully talented had to waste away and die. Of course, if we take George’s spiritual beliefs into account, he never really died. He’s still here; just the physical body is gone.
“Stuck Inside a Cloud” is interesting because it is about that time of dying, that weird intersection between this world and the next. Knowing what’s coming, he’s “never slept so little, never smoked so much.” The huge psychic and physical toll of illness hangs over this song. George manages to capture the wrenching contradictions of being caught in the middle. There’s sadness and wonder as his body and mind drift away, “I lost my will to eat. The only thing that matters to me is to touch your lotus feet.” The goodbyes are hardest, “talking to myself, crying as we part, knowing as you leave me, I also lose my heart.” The most surprising thing about this song, though, is the loneliness. I’m sure that he was surrounded by people he loved during this time and that everyone supported each other. But George knows this is his path and his alone: “Talking to myself, crying out loud. Only I can hear me now, stuck inside a cloud.”
That cloud could represent many things, but I choose to think of it as the way he was re-integrating with the universe. A soft mist that slowly dissipates, but never really disappears. It just changes form. Water vapor becomes rain becomes a stream becomes an ocean, only to become water vapor again. An endless cycle.