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At the vigil for George

Harrison at the British Embassy on Friday night, the crowd was small and polite, mostly aging boomers and their kids. Many brought candles and flowers wrapped in tinfoil (but no poems), depositing them in front of a photo of Harrison—one that made him look more than a bit like the Marlboro Man, with lots of denim and no sitar. Embassy lackeys huddled behind the gates in bemusement, talking about soccer. Those gathered shifted uncomfortably in their old clothes—a satin jacket with “Beatles” on the back, a “Magical Mystery Tour” T-shirt. A moment of silence ensued, and a DJ from Oldies 100 spun “Yesterday” for the second time. (Ironically, it’s a McCartney song that Harrison didn’t even play on.) The vigil over, 25 or so fans started for their cars. A fan named Julio broke the silence and started to talk. He said that he was there for George, not to hear another round of “Yesterday.” Still dressed in an “Office Manager” uniform, Julio said that he loved Harrison and considered him a friend. He looked up at the sky and waved: “Hey there, George. Miss you. Take care.” A woman fan started in tentatively. She said that she had had behind-the-stage seats at a Beatles show in Japan. Harrison was the only moptop who turned around to play to her. Others chimed in with their first Beatles shows. Another fan took a swig from his plastic-bottle flask, closed his eyes for a second, and observed that he’d been born on Nov. 4, 1963—the day the Beatles played their famous concert at the Royal Albert Hall. These weren’t DJs or professional Beatles scholars. They were just sad voices recalling a lead guitarist who was never shy enough not to deliver a great song. All those years ago. —Jason Cherkis