Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Beatles - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (1968)

Deciding what Beatles song to choose is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. However, it's much less awkward to say "this is the Beatles song that I like best." It changes all the time as to what Beatles song I truly love, but the one constant near the top of my list has been and always will be "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." George Harrison has always been my favorite Beatle. His songs are more spiritual, but in a spirit that isn't too preachy (although that changed sometimes when he went solo.) Anyway, the song was inspired by I Ching, which Harrison was reading at the time, which is about how everything is relative to everything as apposed to coincidence. Anyway, lyrically it's pretty ambigous. The notable factor of the greatness of this song is at it's core, the guitar that's gently weeping is not George Harrison's, but his friend and future wife stealer Eric Clapton's guitar.

Musically, the song is very slow and methodical. It's chord progression is one that has been emulated in dozens of songs. Harrison weaves his poem through this structure while Clapton's guitar emulates the titular activity with beautiful percission. One of the best early era rock guitar solos, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" simple but eerie and beautiful. It reminds me a lot of what David Gilmour would do later with Pink Floyd (which we will get to circa 1973) as well as some oher guitarists who would coem down the pike and emulate Clapton's "slow hand." I wouldn't call this song the blues, even the Clapton brings his bluesey woozy guitar to it. It's an interesting track among the hodge podge on the double lp The Beatles known as The White Album. Each song is very different then the one before this and this song is sandwiched between "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun." Three songs that flow well into each other, yet have no real musical connection. Fantastic.

The Beatles are obviously known as the greatest rock and roll band of all time. And rightfully so. I could have picked easily another 30 songs that are just as brilliant as this one. But so it goes. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" slowly mezmerizes everytime I hear it.

Up Next: Donovan warbles his way to become a hippie troubador

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