Today Beatle George, who had been in L.A. working on the Jackie Lomax album, appeared on CBS’s The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour — which, says ye olde Wikipedia,

started out as only a slightly “hip” version of the typical comedy-variety show of its era, but rapidly evolved into a show that extended the boundaries of what was considered permissible in television satire at that time…. Three specific targets of satire – racism, the President of the United States, and the Vietnam War – wound up defining the show’s content for the remainder of its run, eventually leading to its demise.

So although the Smothers Brothers —  whose writing staff included Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, and Albert Brooks — would not actually be shitcanned by the network until April 1969, George was making a Statement by appearing on their show. The key exchange goes like this:

Tommy Smothers: You have something important [to say]?

George Harrison: Something very important to say on American television.

Tommy: You know, a lot of times we don’t have the opportunity to say anything important, because it’s American television. Every time you try to say something important they, uh…

Dick Smothers: [makes throat-cutting gesture]

George: Well, whether you can say it or not, keep trying to say it!

George’s bit is right at the beginning, but the whole thing is worth watching, if only as a time capsule. Donovan is the special guest, and gets quite a bit of screen time; Dion also appears to sing his then-current single “Abraham, Martin, and John.” In fact, despite being nominally a comedy hour, the show is mostly music. I can think of far worse ways to spend 47 minutes.

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