Why George Harrison Named His Memoir ‘I Me Mine’: ‘A Slightly Cynical Trinity of Pronouns’

George Harrison knew how to be witty, cynical, and spiritual-simultaneously. He was just that when he named his 1980 memoir I Me Mine. His wife, Olivia, explained what was going through George’s head, deciding on a name, in her introduction to the book’s 2017 reissue.

George Harrison wearing a multi-colored jacket in Cannes, France, 1976.
George Harrison in France | Michael Putland/Getty Images

There was no ‘I Me Mine’ in George Harrison and Olivia’s marriage

In her 2017 introduction, Olivia wrote that she knew the lyrics to George’s Beatle tune “I Me Mine” long before “the October evening in 1974 when I met the man who wrote them.”

From that night on, throughout the Harrisons’ 30 years together, “the issues of possession, attachment and identification with the ego were in the forefront of our awareness and George was always quick to point out that in reality there is no I, Me or Mine.”

“George was relentless at keeping our spiritual aim true,” Olivia continued. “We were only humans walking a long road towards our shared goal of enlightenment and I, for one, welcomed any reminders.”

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George named his memoir ‘I Me Mine’ after ‘a slightly cynical trinity of pronouns’

Olivia explained that George struggled with the “I Me Mine’s” of the world. No one recognized George’s struggle living in the material world, where no one else embarked on a life-long search for answers, more than Olivia.

“In the course of a day I might have said, ‘Oh, your bit of the garden looks great,’ to which he would reply, ‘It’s not my garden, Liv.’ It was his way of reminding himself and me that we are pure Spirit, and that the Spirit is in ‘every grain of sand,’ belonging everyone and no one; that nothing is ‘mine’ and that the ‘I’ we all refer to must be recognised as the little ‘i’ in the larger scheme of the Universe. George was tired of the I Me Mines of this world, including his own, and had been from a very early age.

“When searching for a title to this book, he was well aware that the lyrics to these songs would always be tied to his name and considered his songs, even though he knew the creativity bestowed upon him was a divine gift. So rather than conjuring a book title that might try to explain away the gift of songwriting with, ‘Well, I wrote them but they don’t really belong to me,’ he took the opposite approach and the risk of claiming this book in a slightly cynical trinity of pronouns.”

So, I Me Mine was just another tongue-in-cheek way of George snubbing the “I Me Mines” of the world. He didn’t want to say his songs were his. So, he named his memoir after the most materialistic, selfish phrase.

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A European waltz on TV inspired George to write The Beatles’ ‘I Me Mine’

George’s Beatles’ song, “I Me Mine,” is just as much tongue-in-cheek as the book. We learned what inspired George to write the song in Peter Jackson’s new documentary, The Beatles: Get Back.

In Part 1, George told Ringo and director Michael Lindsay-Hogg that he watched a BBC 2 program called Out Of The Unknown the night before. It was about a man who goes back in time and tries to transfer his mind into a “young and active body.”

After that, a program called Europa came on. It took “a look at pomp and circumstances through European eyes.” The program’s waltz scene inspired George to think of the phrase “I Me Mine.” The song soon followed. He played it for the rest of The Beatles, but they didn’t seem enthusiastic about it at first.

George said he didn’t “give a f*** if they wanted the song.” It could go in his “musical.” However, it didn’t; it became the name of his memoir. A memoir that brought us even just the tiniest bit closer to George.

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