'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' - The Beatles


Writer: George Harrison

Producer: George Martin

Recorded: August 16th, September 3rd, and September 6th, 1968, at Abbey Road studios in London

Released: November 25th, 1968

Players: George Harrison -- lead and backing vocals, guitar
Paul McCartney -- bass, piano, backing vocals
John Lennon -- organ
Ringo Starr -- drums, percussion
Eric Clapton -- lead guitar
Album: The Beatles (Apple)

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was first recorded in an acoustic version on July 25th, 1968.

George Harrison said that Eric Clapton's guest spot was a result of the other Beatles' disinterest in the song -- "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, and I was going to the session, and I said, 'We're going to do this song. Come on 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 played that, and I thought it was really good.''

Clapton played the lead guitar part on a Les Paul that he had given Harrison as a gift.

During the first full-band recording session, Paul McCartney played piano and later overdubbed his bass part.

Harrison said some adjustments were needed in the final mix, however: "We listened to it back, and (Clapton) said, 'Ah, there's a problem, though -- it's not Beatle-y enough.' So we put it through the (automatic double tracker) to wobble it a bit."

The lyrics were inspired by Harrison's reading of the I Ching, the Chinese Book Of Changes: "This idea was in my head when I visited my parents' house 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,' then laid the book down again and started the song. Some of the words to that song were changed before I actually recorded it."

"Weeps" was one of the few Beatles songs Harrison performed live in concert -- "I love what Eric did on guitar for the original, but versions I did live are better in some respects. See, in the Beatles days, I never liked my singing. I couldn't sing very good. I was always very paranoid, very nervous, and that inhibited my singing."

The Beatles, also known as The White Album, had advance orders of 1.9 million copies.

The Beatles entered the Billboard 200 chart at Number 11 and rose to Number One two weeks later, where it stayed for nine weeks.

The Beatles was the best-selling double album of all time until Saturday Night Fever.

The recording of The Beatles was tense, with McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr uncomfortable with Yoko Ono's presence in the studio, while John Lennon was uncomfortable with their reactions.

During the making of The Beatles, Starr left the band briefly, which McCartney has called a harbinger of the group's eventual break-up.