If people keep on at you long enough, the chances are you will become depressed. We must struggle even though we are all rats and valueless, and try to become better human beings. So this song came out.
I Me Mine
The song was written in response to the negative reception given to Harrison’s recent releases and his 1974 North American tour. The song’s reference to “Rolling Stone walls” was prompted by a succession of negative reviews in Rolling Stone magazine, culminating in a review of Dark Horse in which Jim Miller described Harrison’s songs as “often formulaic, his melodic talent brittle. Under the pressure of composing enough new material to sustain a solo career, his songs have become as predictable as his spiritual preoccupations.”
‘This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)’ struck a defiant note, with Harrison proclaiming his happiness and resilience, and dismissing his critics: “While you attack, create offence/I’ll put it down to your ignorance”. Yet taking on the music press often leads to further negative reviews, and it took until 1987’s Cloud Nine for Harrison’s media rehabilitation to be complete.
It’s ‘son of’ ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. I decided to write that song because of the popularity of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. It was really just like a cheap excuse to play a big of guitar. And that song, ‘Guitar Gently Weeps’, was actually more popular than I realised. That was the one song particularly that went down very well. And it seems to have been quite a popular one of my songs off the old Beatle albums. So I thought I’d write another one. Son of.
That’s Keltner [on drums]. Jim Keltner’s amazing. It’s like what he doesn’t do, he’s really great at leaving space. In that one, really all he really does is a backbeat on the snare and the tom-toms at the same time, and it’s just a sort of pulse. That’s all. He just leaves a lot of gaps, but it’s a nice dance tune.
Rockweek, BBC Radio 1, 6 September 1975
The single was the final one released by Apple Records in the 1970s. It was not a commercial success, and failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic.
In 1992 Dave Stewart, formerly of Eurythmics, recorded a new version of ‘This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)’ with Harrison in London. Over a decade later, in early 2006, it received overdubs from Dhani Harrison on guitar, Ringo Starr on drums and tambourine, and Mark Hudson on bass guitar and backing vocals. The session took place at Hudson’s Whatinthewhathe? Studio in Los Angeles.
The re-recording was first released online in March 2006 to promote Stewart’s Platinum Weird project – a spoof band featuring him and DioGuardi and a number of guest performances. Although it did not appear on their album Make Believe, ‘This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)’ (Platinum Weird version) was included as a bonus track on the 2014 reissue of Extra Texture (Read All About It).