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While My Guitar Gently Weeps
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21 January 2012
1.04am
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BornInThe80s
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I searched through the forum and couldn't find a topic on this song so here it is!

 

My favorite 'Beatles' song hands down. Not sure why really. I love the vibe, I love the solo (thanks Clapton), and I love that the lyrics make you think because honestly, what is George talking about….if he's talking about anything at all!

 

I love how simple, yet complicated it is. Everytime it comes on it just takes me to a relaxing place and boy what a title! I was intrigue by the song before I even heard it (although I thought it was Paul for some time when I first listened. I was still a noob then…). The version on Anthology 3 is beautiful and it shows that even without the whole band and Clapton it is still a wonderful song underneath it all and I loved how softly the guitar wept in that versiona-hard-days-night-george-1

 

So my question is what do you folks think the song is about exactly? Are there any meaning behind the words or just words strung together that end with…'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'? Where does it place in your favorite songs by George and if there was anything you could change about it what would it be?

 

For me the song is just saying how sad it is that we all, in essence, won't just love each other. How sad it is that the answer lies within all of us and yet many of us just don't (or choose not to) see it. Sometimes the answer is presented to us and we still choose to ignore growth. So many of us are traveling the wrong path and it's a sad thing that life just isn't perfect. Even though we sometimes learn from our mistakes it's still a sad fact that life is hard and the world just keeps on turning.'

 

So yeah that's a summary of what I got from it! Maybe I am looking to deep into things but the thing that I love about this song and many Beatles songs is that they're open to interpretation. It's a sad, thought provoking song, and one of my all time favorites! Let me see what you guys think!

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23 January 2012
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Joe
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It's straying off topic a little, but the lyrics to All My Loving were written before the music. That was the first time Paul had done it, possibly the last. Lennon did it quite frequently though - listen to songs like Good Morning Good Morning and it's obvious he was fitting the meter of the song around words he'd previously written.

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23 January 2012
7.34pm
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Zig
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BornInThe80s said:

So my question is what do you folks think the song is about exactly? Are there any meaning behind the words or just words strung together that end with…'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'? Where does it place in your favorite songs by George and if there was anything you could change about it what would it be?

 

There is a very good article about the song in the "Songs" section of this site. /songs/while-my-guitar-gently-weeps-/

This used to be my favorite Beatles song and remains in my top 5.a-hard-days-night-george-10

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23 January 2012
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vonbontee
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I remember George saying 'Blimey, he's always talking about “Yesterday”, you'd think he was Beethoven or somebody' - Paul McCartney

24 January 2012
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The Walrus
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25 January 2012
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Nepomuceno
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While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a good song, though far from being one of my favorites. I really think the final studio recording is too overloaded and that a more delicate arrangement would have suited the song much better. And, somehow, I don't like George's vocals on the track.
As for the song's meaning, my impression is that for George it was more important to put some meaning into his lyrics than for Lennon and McCartney. And I couldn't have explained better than BornInThe80s what I think the lyrics are about:

 

BornInThe80s said:

 
For me the song is just saying how sad it is that we all, in essence, won't just love each other. How sad it is that the answer lies within all of us and yet many of us just don't (or choose not to) see it. Sometimes the answer is presented to us and we still choose to ignore growth. So many of us are traveling the wrong path and it's a sad thing that life just isn't perfect. Even though we sometimes learn from our mistakes it's still a sad fact that life is hard and the world just keeps on turning.'

20 June 2014
4.44am
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Billy Rhythm
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BornInThe80s said 

  
 
So my question is what do you folks think the song is about exactly? Are there any meaning behind the words or just words strung together that end with…'
While My Guitar Gently Weeps'?

It appears to be "just words strung together", here's what George himself said about the lyrics circa 1980:

 

"I had a copy of the I Ching-- the Book of Changes, which seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental. The idea was in my head when I visited my parents' home 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 the song were changed before I finally recorded it."

 

Had George opened a different book or turned a different page at "that moment" we'd have gotten something completely different...:-)

20 August 2014
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Oudis
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Billy Rhythm said 

"I had a copy of the I Ching-- the Book of Changes, which seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental. The idea was in my head when I visited my parents' home 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 the song were changed before I finally recorded it."

Had George opened a different book or turned a different page at "that moment" we'd have gotten something completely different...:-)

Beg to differ. Have you heard of the Jungian concept of “synchronicity”? Karl Jung, who by the way wrote a preface to one of the translations of the I Ching if I’m not mistaken. As Parlance said, “one might argue that George opened the page to the words he was meant to read, and they resonated with him”. I know, pretty New Age –but the idea came to one of the most respected analysts before the expression “New Age” was coined. The song is a masterpiece, probably George’s best during his Beatle period, and the lyrics are very good indeed –perhaps not perfect, but very good in my opinion. He did a great job with just those two words: gently weeps.

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

20 August 2014
1.39pm
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meanmistermustard
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Here's the Mal Q@A for that question in full (Beatles Monthly, February 1969)

wmg.JPGImage Enlarger

 

and Mal's note on the track from the November 1968 issue

wmg2.JPGImage Enlarger

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20 August 2014
9.30pm
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PeterWeatherby
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Absolutely FAB topic, thanks for bringing it up, @BornInThe80s 

As I've said elsewhere on this site, I would highly recommend Simon Leng's book, While My Guitar Gently Weeps : The Music of George Harrison for anyone who wants to better understand George's spiritual journey and how that directly impacted his songwriting (not to mention what amazing contributions this "quiet Beatle" made to the group as a whole).

At this point in his career, George had adopted the Eastern/Indian/Hindu view of music - that it wasn't just a form of entertainment (god forbid!), but that it was a way of praying, of reaching out and touching the face of the divine. The idea that George was just stringing together random words in this song would seem to contradict his entire understanding of music at the point in his life.

The thematic element of the song - "see the love there that's sleeping," repeated in "I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love" - is very much in line with what George had said previously in "Within You Without You": 

"We were talking about the love we all could share ..."

"With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew ..."

"We were talking about the love that's gone so cold ..."

He was apparently very taken by this idea that love could save the world, but that people were too often unaware of how to "unfold your love," letting it lie "sleeping" and going "so cold" while the world continues turning, and floors need sweeping, and "I'm doing nothing but aging."

He understood that this was a process, though, of becoming more and more detached from the mundane in order to see the reality behind "the wall of illusion," and he understood that he himself was still going through this process. He revisited that subject years later in "The Light that has Lighted the World":

I'm grateful to anyone that is happy or free

For giving me hope while I'm looking to see

The light that has lighted the world

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20 August 2014
11.55pm
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StrawberryWalrus
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No doubt - the best song on White Album. Perfectly produced, tasteful, emotional and captivating. Still, not the best George song IMO. Abbey Road has yet to come.

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