So which of these should be the day’s lead story?

  • Linda McCartney gives birth to daughter Mary
  • Apple throws record release party for Hare Krishnas
  • George and Pattie Harrison travel to Isle of Wight

Might as well go chronologically, I guess. Mary McCartney was born at about 1:30 A.M. at the Avenue Clinic in St John’s Wood, London. Not to scandalmonger, but at this point Paul and Linda had been married only five months, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

Later that day, on the other side of town, Apple Records threw a launch party for the new single George had produced, two sides of religious chants credited to the “Radha Krishna Temple.”

Today, we mostly associate Hare Krishnas with being punched in airports by Robert Stack, but at the time they were quite the coming thing. Said George,

I’m interested in this because the Krishna scene is the same as several others, a lot of branches on the same tree, and I’m involved in a lot of them. The thing they have in common is to get back to God, and to get consciousness. With the Krishna consciousness people, there are probably more people I can identify with, because there are younger people, and they’ve been through different scenes like we all have. They’ve been drunkards at one time or another.

I never stop chanting the Krishna mantra.

As a former Berkeley resident, I have a little PTSD where Krishnas are concerned, so I’d prefer to keep this brief. But here’s some background courtesy of Wikipedia:

Harrison had first experienced kirtan, or communal chanting, while in the Indian city of Vrindavan with Ravi Shankar, in 1966. Harrison was inspired by the devotees’ music-making, whereby mantras were sung accompanied by instrumentation such as harmonium and percussion. He and John Lennon had similarly enjoyed Prabhupada’s album of chants, Krishna Consciousness. In addition, Harrison had come to appreciate the positive properties of the Maha or Hare Krishna mantra, after he had chanted it when his plane lost control during a flight back from San Francisco in August 1967.

Via his disciples, Prabhupada had recommended that the Beatles record the Hare Krishna mantra, in order to spread the message of Krishna Consciousness to the group’s wide fan base. Instead, Harrison chose to produce a version by the London-based ISKCON devotees and issue it as a single on Apple Records. As a song, “Hare Krishna Mantra” consists of the sixteen-word Sanskrit Maha Mantra sung over both verse and chorus:

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

Harrison played harmonium during the initial taping, which required three takes to perfect. He then added Leslie-effected electric guitar at the start of the track, and also overdubbed a bass guitar part. Harrison later recalled that he “had someone beat time with a pair of kartals and Indian drums,” and that the other devotees were brought in afterwards to overdub the chorus singing and other contributions.

And a photo of George at the party, looking decidedly Mansonesque:1

And, just because I can’t resist, this:

After the Krishna party George and Pattie headed off to the Isle Of Wight, where they would spend some quality time hanging out with Bob Dylan and friends in advance of the festival starting on the 30th. It’s easy to do these things when you don’t have kids — sorry, McCartneys.

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