George Harrison began composing While My Guitar Gently Weeps during the Beatles’ spiritual journey to Rishikesh, India, and in 1968 ended up writing the lyrics at his mother’s house in Warrington, Cheshire. Many say it’s one of George’s best pieces. George was looking at the Chinese philosophical book ‘I Ching’ and wanted to do something around it. He spotted the phrase ‘gently weeps’ in the book and built it from that.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps ended up in The White Album, but the song had a haltering start when initially the other members of the Beatles were not so keen. George rearranged it a couple of times, and asked his good friend and neighbour Eric Clapton to play lead guitar on the record which he duly did at Abbey Road studio. Eric used his Les Paul guitar, and the whole piece comes together as we hear it today performed by George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton.
To name just a few other performers – it’s also been played by Carlos Santana in his 2010 album ‘Guitar Heaven’, and famously the guitar solo was performed by Prince at a tribute to George Harrison – that was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The Jeff Healey Band also recorded it on their 1990 album, Hell to Pay.
Hauntingly beautiful, sad but a little hopeful, it’s not surprising that I took an instant liking to it when I first heard it released in the late 60’s and have loved playing it ever since. I hope you enjoy it too.
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