The Beatles – The Inner Light

This song was the B side to Lady Madonna and a terrific song and melody. This is a George Harrison song and has gone largely unnoticed. It was George’s first song to appear on a single.

Harrison recorded the instrumental track for The Inner Light in India in January 1968, during the sessions for his Wonderwall Music soundtrack album. The only Beatles studio recording to be made outside Europe, the song introduced instruments such as sarod, shehnai, and pakhavaj.

George was reluctant to sing it because he was afraid he would not do it justice. Paul told him ‘You must have a go, don’t worry about it, it’s good.” McCartney and Lennon coaxed George into singing it. Two days later, McCartney and Lennon overdubbed backing vocals at the very end of the song, over the words “Do all without doing“.

George said about the song: : “Following John and I’s appearance on ‘The Frost Programme,’ the Sanskrit scholar Juan Mascaro, who was present in the audience, wrote a complimentary letter to me praising ‘Within You Without You.'” Juan’s letter stated: “It is a moving song. May it move the souls of millions.” George continues: “He also sent me a book called ‘Lamps Of Fire,’ suggesting that I wrote a song with the words of “Tao Te Ching.’  The words of ‘The Inner Light’ came from that book, page 66, 48a.”

“The Inner Light” finally appeared on an album called Rarities (released in the UK in 1978 and the US in 1980, and then the Past Masters CDs released in 1987.

Paul McCartney’s quote on the song… Forget the Indian music and listen to the melody. Don’t you think it’s a beautiful melody? It’s really lovely.

From Songfacts

George Harrison wrote this song. It was released as the B-side of “Lady Madonna” and was Harrison’s first song to appear on a single.

All the music was recorded by Indian session musicians at the EMI studios in Bombay, India, while George was working on the soundtrack to the movie Wonderwall.

George Harrison had originally recorded this for the Wonderwall soundtrack in January 1968. When The Beatles got together for recording sessions shortly before their trip to India, John and Paul added harmonies to the final line, “Do all without doing.” 

The lyrics are a translation of a section of the Tao Te Ching. Juan Mascaro, a Sanskrit teacher at Cambridge University, sent the book to George.

This was Harrison’s last Indian-themed Beatles song.

The original release was in mono; a stereo version was mixed in 1970 and used on the Past Masters compilation. The mono mix features an extra Indian instrument in the intro that did not make it to the stereo version.

Jeff Lynne from Electric Light Orchestra performed this at George Harrison’s 2002 memorial show The Concert For George. Lynne was good friends with Harrison and played with him in The Traveling Wilburys.

The Inner Light

Without going out of my door
I can know all things of earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows

Without going out of your door
You can know all things on earth
Without looking out of your window
You could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels
The less one knows
The less one really knows

Arrive without traveling
See all without looking
Do all without doing




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

28 thoughts on “The Beatles – The Inner Light”

  1. Interesting tune. I’d never heard it before…very illustrative of their mindset (especially George’s) then. Not up there with his best work, in my opinion, but a decent little tune.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. George became a fantastic songwriter with The Beatles, and I think all the songs he wrote that John and Paul wouldn’t put on the band’s albums ended up on “All Things Must Pass.” I think that album surprised everyone, including George. Funny that it was the youngest member of the group seemed the most mature…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Max, cue in the twilight zone music. Seriously! The Tao Te Ching has 81 verses, and George has written a song about MY FAVORITE VERSE, which is V47. There are an innumerable number of translations and renderings of the Tao Te Ching. The first copy I read was a rendition by Witter Bynner. Here is Witter Bynner’s rendition of V47:
    There is no need to run outside
    For better seeing,
    Nor to peer from a window. Rather abide
    At the center of your being;
    For the more you leave it, the less you learn.
    Search your heart and see
    If he is wise who takes each turn:
    The way to do is to be.
    Max you told me you had a special treat involving George, but I never dreamed it would be this good. I feel a circle has been completed. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wasn’t sure if you knew it or not…
      That is so cool! You know exactly where he got it from…That is why George is your Beatle!
      Paul was right also…it is a beautiful melody… those lyrics though are just great…
      Glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is great Lisa…I’m glad you enjoyed it and it brightened your day. I thought you would like this one…of course you were already connected to it…you just didn’t know it.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: