Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps

This is one of the best songs from the White Album. George stated that the song was written at his mother’s home in Warrington in the north of England.

Harrison was reading I Ching, the Chinese book of changes, and decided to write a song about the first words he saw, which were “Gently Weeps.”

George wanted a sound he wasn’t getting so he called his friend Eric Clapton to play on the song. It also served another purpose. Much like bringing in Billy Preston on Let It Be…John and Paul behaved much better when a visitor came into the picture. Eric declined at first because he said that no one plays on Beatle records and the others wouldn’t like it. George told him it was his song and he wanted him on it. According to George, the atmosphere changed and the song took off from there.

After hearing the playback Eric said that there was a problem…his guitar wasn’t Beatley enough.’ So it was put through the ADT (Artificial Double Tracking) to wobble it up a bit.

George Harrsion:  ‘Eric’s going to play on this one,’ and it was good because that then made everyone act better…It’s interesting to see how nicely people behave when you bring a guest in, because they don’t really want everybody to know that they’re so bitchy…Paul got on the piano and played a nice intro and they all took it more seriously…Also it left me free to just play the rhythm and do the vocal…It was a similar situation when Billy Preston came later to play on ‘Let It Be’ and everybody was arguing. Just bringing a stranger in amongst us made everybody cool out.”

Mick Jagger: “It’s lovely, plaintive. Only a guitar player could write that. I love that song.”

George Harrison: “‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ was just a simple study based on the theory that everything has some purpose for being there at that given moment…So I open this book and I saw ‘gently weeps.’ I shut the book and then I started the tune.”

 

From Songfacts

Harrison often had to fight to get his songs on the albums. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were not interested in this song at first, but came around when Harrison brought Clapton to the studio.

This was the first song Ringo played on after leaving the band in frustration a few weeks earlier. He returned to find flowers on his drums to welcome him back.

Clapton used a Les Paul guitar on this track. Later in his career, he switched to a Fender Stratocaster.

Even though this was not a hit, it is one of the most enduring Beatles songs. It remains popular on classic rock radio.

When George Harrison arranged a trip to India for The Beatles to study Transcendental Meditation, they were joined by their good friend Donovan, a singer-songwriter who had hits with “Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow.” They shared a lot of ideas on this trip, many of which influenced The White Album. In our interview with Donovan, he said that John Lennon wanted to learn the clawhammer guitar style, while Harrison was interested in Donovan’s chord structures. The A minor descents Donovan showed him ended up in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

After working on this song, Eric Clapton became good friends with John Lennon, and played with him on some of his solo work. When George Harrison threatened to leave The Beatles in 1969, Lennon was ready to replace him with Clapton.

This was originally recorded as an acoustic ballad with just Harrison on acoustic guitar and Paul McCartney on organ. This version can be found on some bootlegs and on The Beatles Anthology 3

The Demo Version

The Studio Version

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you

I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

34 thoughts on “Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Max. Not only is it one of my favorite George Harrison tunes, it’s also one of my favorite rock songs.

    “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” provides yet another illustration what a pity it was that not more of George’s music made it on Beatles albums.

    Well, I suppose his first solo album “All Things Must Pass” provides some consolation!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree totally with you. George got the last laugh with that album. It might just be the best solo album any of them did…and many of the songs were rejected by John or Paul.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! I getcha… It’s amazing to me their evolution but…*scratching head*…bands evolve just like blogs evolve.

        I may not like someone’s music but, I DO appreciate the exploration of creativity.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. What impresses me the most is this… 1964 – I Want To Hold Your Hand…. 3 years later…I Am The Walrus.
        That is a hell of a change but of course they didn’t stay there…they went back to the roots.

        I have a story tomorrow speaking of blogs on Martha coming…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Koo Koo Kajoo

        It involves a baby bird in her friggin mouth…yes…a gray-blue Gnatcatcher…anyway the bird is fine…when a dog opens up their mouth and you see another mouth..it’s interesting.

        We took it to a wild life rescue…we even fed it on the way…it’s doing great..

        Like

      4. No…I’ve seen Molly do the same thing. We had to take the squeakers out of toys because she thought she was hurting something…The only animal she would kill were bees…she would catch them with her mouth…Quick chew and spit them out

        Like

      5. Awwwww…sweet baby…both of them. It was “Hey. Dad. See what I got?” LOL!

        A blogger I follow keeps honey bees and she talked about one or two of her dogs liking to chew the bees, too. She said it was because they were sweet but, I didn’t think dogs or cats could taste sweet.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I didn’t get why Molly did that. We didn’t mind seeing a yellow jacket chewed though…and a wasp!

        Like

      7. The WP Reader is doing weird s***, again. Every time I try to separate my sentences for a different train of thought, the software slams everything together. The phone app isn’t doing it…yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I’ve see it do that also…I commenting on someones post and all of it came together…Oh on UK#1s site I believe

        Like

  2. Max, you know I love this one. I think I figured out why musicians end up endlessly collaborating with other musicians/breaking up/forming new bands/etc. aside from musicians being temperamental. Music is like cooking. Combining new ingredients, letting things marinate, etc. This song is a perfect example of it. So cool to learn that George cracked the I Ching and it gave him the seed he needed. I knew he was into Indian mysticism and one of his songs has lyrics to a Tao Te Ching verse, but wasn’t aware or didn’t remember about I Ching.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was another song also from that book right? You were excited when I wrote that because you know the book…Oh… The Inner Light I think he got from it also.

      It shows you how close they were…to bring an outsider in and John and Paul behaved. That is just like a typical family.

      Like

      1. The I Ching is connected with Confucius and is all about how yin waxes into yang waxes into yin in neverending cycles. You consult it for your “reading” and it’s like astrology/oracle reading. Not necessarily the healthiest thing to get into imo. You can get imprisoned in it easily, not making a move without consulting it. The other book, the Tao Te Ching, is written (they say) by Lao Tzu where he gave a copy to the gatekeeper on his way out of town. The lyrics of that one song of his are from the Tao Te Ching and much more “healthy.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Lisa…that explains it well. I’ve seen people consult their horoscope before they make a move. I do see that as a form of imprisonment.

        That helps.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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