Friday, March 8, 2019

50 years ago: The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” hit #1 in Australia

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

The Beatles

Writer(s): George Harrison (see lyrics here)

Released: November 25, 1968 (album cut)

Peak: 1 CL, 16 AU, 5 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 133.0 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Beatles’ unparelled success was built at least in part on the distinct personalities of its four members. Paul McCartney became celebrated as a pop tunesmith while John Lennon appealed to more artistic tastes. Ringo Starr had a goofy, fun style and George Harrison earned the reputation of the mystical, silent member.

His quieter personality led to him often being overshadowed by the songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney. Most of the group’s most celebrated songs are credited to the songwriting duo. They certainly penned classic after classic, but Harrison wasn’t given a lot of opportunity to complete, being typically relegated to one song per album.

In later years, he started to exert his songwriting prowess, most notably on the #1 single “Something.” He also contributed one of the group’s most beloved album tracks, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” on the Beatles’ White Album. Rolling Stone ranked “Weeps” as the seventh greatest guitar song of all time. Alan Smith of New Musical Express called it “a slightly [Jimi] Hendrix thing.” WK

Harrison write the song after returning from India, where the Beatles studied transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It prompted Harrison to return to guitar as his primary instrument after he’d focused on the sitar over the last two years. Author Jonathan Gould called “Weeps” “virtually a declaration of his recommitment to rock.” WK

The song also marked the beginning of his period as a prolific songwriter. The seeds for “Weeps” were sown when Harrison decided to open a book randomly and write a song based on the first words he saw, which happened to be “gently weeps.” WK Harrison’s subsequent lyrics reflected on “how a universal love for humankind is latent” WK and how Harrison felt spiritually isolated from the group. WK It also showed how the band didn’t always respect his contributions when they were apathetic toward the song. This led Harrison to invite his friend Eric Clapton to contribute on lead guitar. The two also famously collaborated on “Badge” for Clapton’s group Cream.

During his solo career, Harrison performed this song more than any other. SF It has been covered by Peter Frampton, Jeff Healy, Todd Rundgren, Santana, and Regina Spektor. When Harrison was posthumously inducted as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the song was famously performed by an all-star band including Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, and Prince with a ferocious guitar solo.


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First posted 1/14/2023.

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