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“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Listen to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

GEORGE 1980: “I had a copy of the I Ching– the Book of Changes, which seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental. The idea was in my head when I visited my parents’ home in the North of England. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book– as it would be relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it– saw ‘gently weeps’ –than laid the book down again and started the song. Some of the words to the song were changed before I finally recorded it.”

GEORGE 1987: “I worked on that song with John, Paul, and Ringo one day, and they were not interested in it at all. And I knew inside of me that it was a nice song. The next day I was with Eric Clapton, and I was going into the session, and I said, ‘We’re going to do this song. Come and play on it.’ He said, ‘Oh no. I can’t do that. Nobody ever plays on the Beatles records.’ I said, ‘Look, it’s my song, and I want you to play on it.’ So Eric came in, and the other guys were as good as gold– because he was there. Also, it left me free to just play the rhythm and do the vocal. So Eric played that, and I thought it was really good. Then we listened to it back, and he said, ‘Ah, there’s a problem though; it’s not Beatley enough.’ So we put it through the ADT (automatic double-track) to wobble it up a bit.”

About “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a poignant and influential song featured on White Album. Released on November 22, 1968, this composition is primarily attributed to George Harrison. Recorded at London’s EMI Studios, now known as Abbey Road Studios, during the summer of 1968, it features Harrison on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, John Lennon on electric guitar and Ringo Starr on drums.

Eric Clapton, a close friend of George Harrison, provided the lead guitar work for the song. His contribution is one of the most distinctive elements of this version, and it has become iconic in the realm of rock guitar. The enduring popularity and critical acclaim of this song have solidified its status as one of George Harrison’s finest compositions. Eric Clapton’s exceptional guitar work on the track is especially revered by music enthusiasts.

Over the years, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” has been covered by numerous artists, a testament to its enduring appeal and influence. Additionally, the song is significant in illustrating George Harrison’s growing assertiveness as a songwriter within the Beatles and his budding interest in Eastern spirituality, themes that would become more prominent in his later solo work.

In summary, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” stands as a powerful testament to George Harrison’s songwriting prowess and remains a cherished and influential piece within the Beatles’ extensive catalog. Its enduring popularity speaks to its lasting emotional impact on listeners around the world.

Meaning of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a deeply introspective song and its lyrics convey a sense of melancholy and contemplation about life’s challenges.

The opening lines express the narrator’s observation of the latent love within people around him, juxtaposed with the sorrow he feels, symbolized by his guitar. This juxtaposition highlights a poignant contrast between outward appearances and inner emotions. As the song progresses, there’s a sense of being preoccupied with mundane tasks, perhaps as a way to cope with deeper feelings. However, the underlying sadness persists, with the guitar continuing to ‘weep’.

Harrison expresses a sense of frustration or regret that the person being addressed hasn’t been given proper guidance on how to express his love. This is followed by a reflection on possible manipulation or mistreatment, which may have led to the suppression of emotions. The observation of the world’s continued movement, even in the face of personal sorrow, underscores the idea that life goes on, regardless of individual struggles. This sentiment is echoed in the refrain, emphasizing the enduring nature of the narrator’s melancholy.

The line “With every mistake, we must surely be learning” suggests a silver lining in adversity. It implies that even in moments of difficulty or hardship, there is an opportunity for growth and wisdom.

Overall, the lyrics of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” reveal a depth of emotion and introspection. They resonate with listeners due to their universal themes and the way they capture the complexities of the human experience. The enduring popularity of this song is a testament to its ability to touch hearts and provoke contemplation.


The Beatles

  • George Harrison – double-tracked vocals, backing vocal, acoustic guitar, Hammond organ
  • John Lennon – electric guitar with tremolo
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, piano, bass guitars
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, castanets

Additional musician

  • Eric Clapton – lead guitar (uncredited)

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