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If Not For You

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If Not For You - George Harrison

George Harrison looked up from his guitar as Bob walked over to him in thoughtful silence.

"Hey, play it back to me, George," he whispered in his characteristically gravelly voice.

"You want me to sing it too?"

"Yeah," Bob mumbled. "You do that."

As Bob leaned over him to lay the sheet of lyrics down, George felt the ghost of a touch near the top of his left thigh. He shivered at the contact. Glancing up again, he saw Bob smile mysteriously as he turned away.

 

It's Now or Never - Elvis Presley

George could hardly believe what was happening here. Even through the haze of pot, he sensed that this was something out of the ordinary. Lightyears away from the ordinary, in fact.

After spending months listening to Bob Dylan's record on constant repeat, George had been highly excited when  he'd heard the man himself was coming up to see them. When Bob had brought the first joint out, George had been wary at first but, after seeing John jump eagerly at the idea and the attention Dylan seemed to be giving him because of it, he joined in without another thought.

But Bob's silent nod of invitation for George to acompany him to one of the empty bedrooms was something he didn't even need to think twice about. After all, when was he going to get a chance like this again?

I'm Only Sleeping

The radio was on as I woke up, sore and hungover. Make that extremely hungover. As I rolled over and sat up, I saw Bob sitting cross legged on the end of the bed. He was already dressed and smoking a joint, humming along to the song that was currently playing.

"Morning," I said croakily, gazing at him through bleary eyes.

"Afternoon, George," Bob corrected with a wry chuckle.

I defended myself by pointing out it had been a pretty wild night.

"That's why I didn't want t' disturb you. Did you really play your part backwards on this?"

I looked at him in confusion, until John Lennon's voice bled through into my sluggish brain. It really must have been some night if I hadn't recognised one of our songs. I told him that I could barely remember my own name, let alone what I did on a record two years ago.

Bob chuckled again. "You go back to sleep, George."

Don't Call on Me - The Monkees

"Look, George, I don't know if I can make it."

"Please, Bob."

His silence in reply to my pleas spoke volumes, as did the evasive attitude when he did respond verbally.

"It'll do you good to get out on stage again. Really."

"Is that the only reason you're calling me. The Bangladesh show?"

"No. I mean, it'd be great to see you again anyway, even if you just drop by. But, ye see, this concert's really important to Ravi. And to me."

There was another long silence. Then Bob muttered that he might actually be able to make it. Might. That was the best I could get out of him. He might turn up. No promises.

You Know that I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse

I met George down in the bar as we'd planned. He was staring worriedly into his half empty glass. Maybe he was worried I wasn't going to show. He nodded as I approached. He looked worn to the bone. Fragile. Older than 31, that was for sure. I sat down asked carefully if there was something on his mind.

He raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Apart from the missis leaving me for Eric Clapton?"

"That's got to be a downer," I admitted distantly. I was reluctant to bring up my own problems.

"Tour's going shit too. Voice nearly gone." George shook his head and bit his lip hard before draining his glass. I didn't bother getting a drink for myself then. I merely stood up and told him to come along upstairs.

I couldn't do much to comfort my old friend until the hotel room door was shut behind us.

Chains - The Beatles.

I was trapped. Trapped in the group and squashed under Paul's ever inflating ego. He thought he could still boss me about like I was fifteen and he was sixteen. Like he was still the almost adult and I was the snotty nosed kid who still owed him a favour for getting him into the band,

As much as I hate to admit it, Paul's musical bullying still worked sometimes. Like today, I told him I'd play anything anything he wanted me to play. Out of desperation I even went as far as saying I wouldn't play at all, a long as it made him happy. But nothing makes him happy these days. I'm starting to wonder if anything I've done has ever made him happy.

God, what I wouldn't give to be back with Bob. I want to be away from the group and this place, physically, mentally and emotionally. America and Bob and the feeling of being in the presence of someone who respects me and my musical ability is about as far away as I can picture from this little slice of hell.

I tried calling him this afternoon. There was no answer.

Wasted Time - Eagles

The last time I saw him, George was wasting away before my eyes. He was now a frail, fatally ill man. And God did he look old. Years of friendship and memories, and this is the image he left with me when he went.

That last time I saw him was the first time I really regretted not following up that impulse that led to our first encounter more seriously. If only what we'd had could've been more than a friendship with a few casual fucks thrown in for good measure.

We might all have been a bit older, but he wasn't old, He was fifty eight for fucks sake! And dying.

It's All Over Now Baby Blue - Bob Dylan

"Get out, George."

"But-"

"Please, just go. Just for a bit."

"Did I do something wrong? I thought-"

"No! I mean, no. Look, I need to think about this."

"Right." Suddenly calm and resigned, George gathered his clothes from the guest room floor. He was still zipping up his jeans as he left quietly.

Bob sat on his guest's bed, head resting in his hands. He wondered just how wise it had been to invite George after all.

Congratulations - Traveling Wilburys

George had been happy almost the whole time they'd been doing this project. And there was no reason he shouldn't be. The Traveling Wilburys had been his idea, and there was no question it was coming together well.

But one thing he didn't like to be reminded of was the nearing date of Bob's departure. That was guaranteed to bring a flicker of a shadow across his face. It usually wouldn't take long before he brightened up and wandered off back into the epicentre of creativity, whether that be writing a song or recording it a few hours later.

You had to be on your toes around George, because he'd always be picking your brain for fresh lyrics. It was Bob's turn now. They'd all had a bit much to drink and Bob had been more or less left to his own devices for a couple of hours as he scribbled down some ideas he planned to show George in the morning.

But George approached him, stumbling across the room with a beer bottle in one hand and a ukulele in the other. Man, he looked happy.

"What you got there, Bobby?" George half-hiccuped as he joined him.

Bob pushed the paper across and George glanced over it. "I guess I must've loved you more than I ever knew," he read out. "Nice. I like that."

"How 'bout this? 'If I had just one more chance to win your heart again, I would do things differently, but what's the use to pretend'?"

George was part-way through an approving nod, when realisation hit. His eyes connected with Bob's and understanding shot between them.

Where Do We Go From Here - the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

George Harrison returned from the bathroom sheepishly. He was cleaned up and fully dressed, but still stoned as hell.

"That your first time?"

Harrison shook his head but didn't elaborate. "Yours?"

Dylan didn't answer. What he did do was bring Harrison's face close to his for another tender, but still experimental, kiss before suggesting they rejoin the party.

"Aye..." the young guitarist said slowly, his Liverpool roots betrayed by just one word.

Without any further communication, they left the room by separate doors. The group was much as they'd left them, though considerably more stoned.

If Not For You - Bob Dylan/George Harrison

You do understand who this song is for? I wanted to ask him. You do, don't you, George? I'd be lost if not for you. It should be obvious but I wanted some sign that he'd got the message. Why couldn't I bring myself to voice the question?

He had to understand, though. He couldn't just be sat there, cradling his guitar and listening to the words I was singing without comprehending that they were directed at him. And, if he didn't already know, there had to be a way that I could make sure he did.