George Harrison’s Living in the Material World and Madonna’s Material Girl have more in common than their titles
George Harrison claimed that Madonna “helped herself” to his song “Living in the Material World” for her tune “Material Girl.” The name of the 1973 rock song no doubt influenced the title of the 1984 pop hit, but that’s not where the tune’s similarities end.
George Harrison said Madonna “helped herself” with his “life in the material world” for Material Girl.
In 1971, Bright Tunes Music, the publishers of The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine,” sued George for copyright infringement. They claimed the former Beatle copied the 1963 song for his 1970 song “My Sweet Lord.”
In 1976, Judge Richard Owen of the United States District Court ruled that George “subconsciously” copied “He’s So Fine.”
The lawsuit made George paranoid. He vented his frustration in his 1976 tune “This Song.” During recording, comedian Eric Idle dubbed two arguing voices saying, “Sounds like ‘Sugar Pie Honey Bunch'” and “Nah! Sounds more like ‘Save me!’”
George often confessed that he used his favorite songs as inspiration. However, that didn’t mean he copied any music. During a 1987 interview with Timothy White in Musician Magazine, George said many artists copied one another.
“Not to mention Madonna substituting ‘Material Girl’ on ‘Living in the Material World.’ I was ahead of my time,” George said.
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George and Madonna’s songs have more in common than their titles
Madonna might have gotten “Material Girl” from George’s “Living in the Material World,” but that’s not all the songs have in common.
Comparing the two tunes, at least superficially, there’s no denying how different they are. George sings about escaping the material world.
He sings, “Can’t tell what I’m doing here/ But I hope to see much more clearly/ After living in the material world…/ I was born into the material world/ I got exhausted in the material world…/ I got caught Up in the material world / Of the spiritual sky / Such sweet memories do I have / To the spiritual sky / How I pray / Yes I pray / That I don’t lose myself / Or stray / As I’m destined for the material world / In the getting frustrated in the material world / never satisfying the senses / just swell like a tide / that might drown me in the material world… / living in the material world / I hope to get out of this place.
At first you might think Madonna is singing about being a gold digger in “Material Girl”. She sings, “Some boys kiss me/ Some boys hug me/ I think they’re fine/ If they don’t give me the proper credit/ I just walk away/ They can beg and they can plead/ But they can’t see the light (that’s right)/ ‘Cause the boy with the cold cash/ always has Mister Right.”
While George wants to leave the material world, Madonna cannot live without her. However, that is not true. Both warn against materialism.
George wanted to leave this world and go to the spiritual realm. Ever since he became spiritual in the mid-1960s, George has wanted to connect with God in every way he can. After all, not everything in George’s life, including material things, impressed him. No matter how much money he had, it never really brought him happiness the way God did.
In 1967, George Melody Maker (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), “The Beatles got all the material wealth we needed, and that was enough to show us that this thing wasn’t material. We are all in the physical world, but what we are striving for is not physical. We’re all so attached to material things like cars, TVs and houses, but what they can give you is only there for a while and then it’s gone.”
Ten years later, George told Crawdaddy: “But people interpret it to mean money, cars and things like that – even though that’s part of the material world. The material world is like the physical world, unlike the spiritual. For me, living in the material world was simply being in this physical body with all the things that come with it.”
Ten years later, George added to Anthony DeCurtis, “What I’ve realized over the years is that it’s not what you own that matters, it’s how attached you are to it. And I think the danger is that you become compulsively attached to each other, even to your own body or to your wealth, your cars, your fame, your fortune. It has to be detached from it, but you can still experience it. It’s all part of the life experience.”
Nothing in George’s life kept him attached to the material world. In Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Life in the Material WorldGeorge explained that while he was stabbed during his family’s 1999 home invasion, he could not find a reason to stay and was preparing for death.
He said: “If I had to leave my body in an hour, what would I be missing? And I think, well, I have a son who needs a father, so I need to stay there for him while I can, but other than that, I can’t think of much reason to be here [laughs].”
Meanwhile, Madonna wasn’t yearning for another realm when she recorded “Material Girl,” but she wasn’t exactly singing about her love of material things. She may appear like a gold digger in “Material Girl,” but it’s more of a satirical song.
The pop star confirmed that she didn’t identify with her famous song. During an interview with Rolling Stone in 2009, Madonna said she liked “Material Girl” because it was “at once ironic and provocative, but also different from me.” She continued, “I’m not a materialistic person…
“I feel lucky to be able to afford a Frida Kahlo [painting] Or live in a nice house, but I know I can live without it. I’m resourceful, and if I ended up in a log cabin in the middle of the woods, that would work too. These things are not mandatory for my happiness. That’s what I meant by ‘I’m not a materialistic person’.”
“Life in the Material World” and “Material World” have similar titles and warnings about possessions. So this means that George and Madonna had similar views on the material world.
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The two were not similar pop stars
Later, in 1986, George and Modonna worked together on Shanghai surprise. George told Creem Magazine it was tough working with the pop star and her then-husband Sean Penn.
George said he likes Penn and his work, but it’s hard to get a performance out of him when he’s angry. Meanwhile, George thought Madonna was nice but had no sense of humor. Nor had she learned from the Beatles’ mistakes.
Madonna might not have been a materialistic person like George, but the couple didn’t share similar views on fame.
Creem said it was ironic that George had to defend the fugitive couple from the press. George had experienced the media with the Beatles for years. It was a hundred times worse than what Penn and Madonna experienced on set Shanghai surprise.
George stated that the Beatles should have been a role model for all pop stars. Whenever someone in the group “started getting snooty or snooty, we just screwed them up,” George said. The Beatles looked out for each other and stayed humble.
However, pop stars like Madonna have not looked at what happened to the group and learned from it. They “suddenly start thinking they’re God’s gift to mankind, when they’re really just dumb pop stars. There’s a lot more to life than just being a famous pop star. Unfortunately, many fall into the trap,” said George.
“They’re surrounded by people saying how awesome they are, all these toady-lickers surrounding them. And unfortunately, she started it all and fell for it. But I think she has the ability to be a really nice person – you have to look at it from the other side, which I also see, which is that when you’re fabulous, the pressure you’re under is enormous.
“Sometimes it drives you insane not being able to write and not being able to do that when everyone is bugging you and cameras are shooting in your face. So I also sympathize from this point of view. But all she needs is 500 milligrams of LSD (laughs).”
George and Madonna were by no means alike, but they did agree in the material world.
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https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/george-harrisons-living-material-world-madonnas-material-girl-have-more-common-than-titles.html/ George Harrison’s Living in the Material World and Madonna’s Material Girl have more in common than their titles