The Beatles' music: quotes and info

“The Inner Light”

Paul McCartney’s quote about “The Inner Light”

PAUL 1968: “Forget the Indian music and listen to the melody. Don’t you think it’s a beautiful melody? It’s really lovely.”

About “The Inner Light”

"Lady Madonna" / "The Inner Light" single cover
“Lady Madonna” / “The Inner Light” single cover

“The Inner Light” was written by George Harrison and released on a non-album single in March 1968, as the B-side to “Lady Madonna“. The song was the first Harrison composition released on a Beatles single and reflects the band’s embrace of Transcendental Meditation, which they were studying in India under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the time. In addition to “Love You To” and “Within You Without You“, this is the last of Harrison’s three Beatles-era songs that exhibit overt Indian classical influences. Using a passage from the Taoist Tao Te Ching, Harrison set these lyrics to music as guided by Juan Mascaró, a Sanskrit scholar who translated the passage in his 1957 book Lamps of Fire.

In January 1968, Harrison recorded “The Inner Light” during the Wonderwall Music soundtrack sessions in Bombay. The recording was the band’s first studio recording outside Europe and includes Indian instruments such as sarod, shehnai, and pakhavaj. Aashish Khan, Hanuman Jadev, and Hariprasad Chaurasia are among the musicians on the track. Besides Harrison’s lead vocal, recorded in London, the Beatles’ sole contribution was group backing vocals. In the decade following its release, the song became a relative rarity among the band’s recordings, appearing on compilation albums such as Rarities, Past Masters, Volume Two, and Mono Masters.

Its melodic qualities and its evocation of meditation have been praised by several music critics and musicologists. A year after Harrison’s death, Jeff Lynne and Anoushka Shankar performed the song at the Concert for George tribute.


The Beatles

  • George Harrison – lead vocals, direction
  • John Lennon – harmony vocals
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocals

Additional musicians

  • Aashish Khan – sarod
  • Hanuman Jadev – shehnai
  • Hariprasad Chaurasia – bansuri
  • Mahapurush Misra – pakhavaj
  • Rijram Desad – harmonium
  • uncredited – tabla tarang

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