I Me Mine
Reviewed by Kent H. Benjamin, Fri., Nov. 22, 2002
I Me Mineby George Harrison
Chronicle Books, 400 pp., $24.95 Originally published in 1980 in a very expensive limited edition, George Harrison's autobiography is finally available at an affordable price in the wake of his passing. The book consists of three parts: an "autobiography" as told to Beatles publicist/longtime pal Derek Taylor; a generous series of exclusive photos with hilarious captions; and the book's main part -- reproductions of the original handwritten lyrics to all of Harrison's best songs, along with typed lyrics and brief commentary from the author on their origin/meaning. The autobiographical section is a short read, all of 62 pages. Given that I Me Mine is the most authoritative bio of Harrison we'll ever get, that's a major tragedy. Harrison is one of the greatest figures in rock & roll history, and his life being reduced to a series of superficial anecdotes -- sometimes amusing, to be sure -- provides little information or insight into his mind or life. His hatred of the Beatles' celebrity means that John Lennon, someone the teenage Harrison used to follow around and imitate like an annoying younger brother, is virtually absent from the book, getting fewer mentions than Ravi Shankar. We do find out that, according to Harrison, the Beatles smoked cigarettes, not pot, in the Buckingham Palace bathroom. That's the sum total of the book's "new" information. The photo section is terrific, but not worth the book's price. That leaves readers with I Me Mine's raison d'être, the lyrics. That part is revelatory, because it's quite clear in hindsight that it was Harrison, not Lennon, who wrote some of the most insightful and moving lyrics of all the Beatles/ex-Beatles. And the commentary, while frustratingly brief, is very illuminating.