Music/Popular Culture

I Me Mine: George lets go of the little i…

George looks past desire to find happiness.

“I Me Mine is the ego problem. There are two ‘I’s: the little ‘i’ when people say ‘I am this’; and the big ‘I’ – i.e. duality and ego. There is nothing that isn’t part of the complete whole. When the little ‘i’ merges into the big ‘I’ then you are really smiling!” – George Harrison

George Harrison, seeker (image courtesy Genius.com)

“I Me Mine” has the forlorn honor of being the last song recorded by The Beatles. It also has the slightly eerie honor of anticipating the two “Beatles” songs recorded by the (at that point) surviving Beatles for the Anthology albums of the mid-nineties. The eeriness comes from this factoid: only George, Paul, and Ringo play on “I Me Mine” because John was away (Beatles Bible says he had for all intents left the band by the time they finished the song in January 1970). The next time George, Paul, and Ringo would record together, John had been dead 15 years, and Paul famously noted that they were able to get through the sessions by pretending that John was on holiday – as he had been when “I Me Mine” was recorded. In lives filled with surreal moments, George, Paul, and Ringo might well have noted the irony of those two moments as particularly, painfully so.

“I Me Mine” has had another life as the title of George’s “sort of” autobiography (composed primarily of interviews conducted by long time Beatles press officer and friend Derek Taylor). The book (which I am currently re-reading and will write about in a forthcoming essay) allows George to present in some detail his memories of struggling with Beatlemania, rejecting the hollowness of fame and wealth, and finding true peace in his spiritual studies. He expresses a particular fondness for his song “I Me Mine” as a song he wrote about his revelations (based on an LSD experience) concerning the struggle between self-absorption (the little “i”) and enlightenment (the big “I”):

        I Me Mine

All through the day, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
All through the night, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Now they’re frightened of leaving it
Everyone’s weaving it
Coming on strong all the time
All through the day I me mine
I-I-me-me-mine, I-I-me-me-mine
I-I-me-me-mine, I-I-me-me-mineAll I can hear, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Even those tears, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
No-one’s frightened of playing it
Everyone’s saying it
Flowing more freely than wine
All through the day I me mineI-I-me-me mine, I-I-me-me mine
I-I-me-me mine, I-I-me-me mineAll I can hear, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Even those tears, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
No-one’s frightened of playing it
Everyone’s saying it
Flowing more freely than wine
All through your life I me mine

The music, an interesting blues in waltz time,  serves George’s lyrics well, and the song is an effective example of what musicologist Wilfrid Mellers describes as a George style religious effusion on the need to look past our own desires to find happiness. Phil Spector added brass and strings to his remix of the song as well as extending the song’s length by repeating parts of the song. Spector’s sonic enhancements give the song a richness that George probably liked given that he repeats in his classic “What is Life?” from All Things Must Pass.

You can hear a remastered version of “I Me Mine” here:

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