The songs – part six
‘Revolution’‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
The DVD and iTunes version of ‘Revolution’ was, at 3:23, over a minute longer than on the CD (2:14). The song, although remixes, was relatively unchanged by George and Giles Martin.
The guitar sound on ‘Revolution’ rips your head off, even today it defines the word ‘distortion’, it’s amazing to think that it was recorded nearly forty years ago.
Love press release, 21 November 2006
‘Back In The USSR’
‘Back In The USSR’ was the second of two songs edited for length on the CD edition, from 2:34 (on the DVD and iTunes) to 1:53.
Like ‘Revolution’ this bursts out from the multi-track tapes with such energy that there’s nothing much that we could do with it either.
Love press release, 21 November 2006
‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
This was one of two tracks on Love to contain new recordings. The other was the addition of new bird noises to ‘Because’.
George Harrison recorded a demo of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ at Abbey Road on 25 July 1968. A harmonium was also overdubbed onto the original recording, possibly played by Paul McCartney. That take was released in 1996 on Anthology 3.
Dominic Champagne, the director of the show, loved George’s demo recording of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, and it is very touching. It’s in a lower key than the master; it’s also slower, much more gentle and shorter. He wanted to put it in the show and Olivia didn’t think it was good enough – it had always sounded what it was, a demo, she said. It was done here, take three. So this was a revival and Dominic said ‘Well, what if we make it more official? Why don’t we ask George to write a score?’ I was put on the spot, y’know, because his widow is going to listen to it… But she did love it, thank the Lord.
Sound On Sound
Dominic … wanted to use this version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and I didn’t because I couldn’t do anything with it… Like ‘Yesterday’, it’s been done before. There was nothing I could do that was slightly smart. And ‘Guitar’ was an unfinished demo and it’s such a great George song. We had a meeting actually, Dominic, myself, Olivia Harrison and Dhani Harrison, at Abbey Road. My dad wasn’t there. I was always the person to say, “OK. Let’s finally make a decision on this.” (laughs). I played ‘Back In The USSR’ into one version of the original ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and then the take 1, the acoustic version from the Anthology, from the first time he ever recorded it at Abbey Road. It’s not really a demo, more of a take. And, Dominic convinced all of us. He said it’s more tender and shows George off more in a way as his song.
So they looked at me and said, “Right. What can you do?” And it wasn’t finished, it’s a demo. That was my concern. Can you combine the two versions? Start with one, like ‘Strawberry Fields’. No, sadly. The acoustic guitar version is faster and lower so you can’t do it with vari-speed. It’s much faster than the original. It’s a sensitive song and it would sound like a mash-up if I did it. I said, “I know it goes against all of our rules, but why don’t I get my dad to do a string arrangement?” And Olivia said, “Do you think he’d be willing to do it?” And, I said, “It makes sense to me. He is the Beatles producer and George isn’t around, and he can finish it. It may be what Dad would have done anyway with this acoustic version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.” She agreed, I phoned up my dad.
He said, “Well. What do the others feel about it?” I had to speak to Paul, so I phoned up Paul and he was happy with it. My dad was deeply nervous about it. He hadn’t done a string arrangement in about five years. It was amazing to be reminded ’cause I had been running around trying to get stuff finalized. He’s very cool at string arrangements. That’s the thing, He never over-flourishes stuff. He is brilliant at doing a string arrangement that you don’t have to listen to. Olivia came in half way through. We did it at AIR, not Abbey Road. I knew the string arrangement ’cause we went through it on a piano together. In the show it starts out with a string pulse, which I actually put in because we needed an introduction to his introduction. It was very useful. We needed a bit. It was amazing how he weaves around a song that changes tempo dramatically. You may not notice it. He speeds up and slows down. Just him and the guitar. It was an incredible experience. Olivia was there. I turned around and saw her face and I knew she was moved by it. It’s a wonderful capping of my dad’s last string arrangement.