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While My Guitar Gently Weeps

George Harrison, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

From Wikipedia:

While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a song written by George Harrison. It was first performed by The Beatles for their double album The Beatles (also known as The White Album), featuring the lead guitar of Eric Clapton.

The song was ranked #135 on Rolling Stones list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time“, #7 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time, and #10 on their list of The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs

Inspiration for the song came to Harrison when reading the I Ching, which, as he put it, “seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else…opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.” Taking this idea of relativism to his parents’ home in northern England, Harrison committed to write a song based on the first words he saw upon opening a random book. Those words were “gently weeps”, and he immediately began the song. As he said:

“I wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence – every little item that’s going down has a purpose.”While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book – as it would be a relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song.”

The initial incarnation was not final, as Harrison said: “Some of the words to the song were changed before I finally recorded it.” A demo recorded at George’s home in Esher includes an unused verse:

I look at the trouble and see that it’s raging,
While my guitar gently weeps.
As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but aging,
Still, my guitar gently weeps.

As well as an unused line in the very beginning:

The problems you sow, are the troubles you’re reaping,
Still, my guitar gently weeps.

This line was eventually omitted in favour of the one appearing on The Beatles. An early acoustic guitar/organ take of the song, released on Anthology 3 and also used as the basis of the Love remix, featured a slightly different third verse:

I look from the wings at the play you are staging,
While my guitar gently weeps.
As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but aging,
Still, my guitar gently weeps.

The band recorded the song several times, including a version with a backward guitar solo (as Harrison had done for “I’m Only Sleeping” on Revolver), but Harrison was not satisfied. On 6 September 1968, during a ride from Surrey into London, Harrison asked Eric Clapton to add a lead guitar solo to the song. Clapton was reluctant—he said, “Nobody ever plays on the Beatles’ records”—but Harrison convinced him and Clapton’s solo was recorded that evening. Harrison later said that in addition to his solo, Clapton’s presence had another effect on the band: “It made them all try a bit harder; they were all on their best behaviour.”

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