George Harrison's wife Olivia was "floored" when she heard a ukulele cover of her husband's Beatles song, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The former Beatle wrote it using Chinese philosophy, and it became one of his most famous tunes.
George Harrison wrote 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' using Chinese philosophy
In 1968, George was fully immersed in Eastern spirituality and philosophy, specifically Indian. However, he used Chinese philosphy to write "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
In his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine, George wrote that around the time he wrote the song, he had a copy of I Ching, the Chinese classic Book of Changes. George said it was based on the Eastern concept that "everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental."
"This idea was in my head when I visited my parents' house in the north of England," George wrote. "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."
George then brought the song into the recording studio, but his bandmates weren't impressed by it. So, he enlisted the help of his friend Eric Clapton to play the solo.
George's wife Olivia was 'floored' by a ukulele version of 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'
George's wife Olivia discovered a ukulele version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by Jake Shimabukuro when his video went viral on YouTube in 2006. The video currently has 17 million viewers.
"Lots of people wrote to me or sent me a link saying, 'Have you seen this?' I was really floored by it," Olivia told Songlines. "Jake is a master and I then saw him play it one Christmas in Honolulu with an orchestra and it was beautiful. George wasn't around to hear Jake's version but he would have loved it."
George had a favorite version of the tune
In 1991, George embarked on a tour of Japan with Clapton. During the tour, they recorded some songs for a live album. George had never performed some of the songs live, which was interesting. Initially, though, he didn't think the album would sound good, but he was mistaken.
He loved the live version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." George was happy about how it turned out. "It's far superior, I think, to the original studio recording, and Eric just plays his butt off. It’s really good," George Scott Muni at WNEW-FM (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters).
Whichever version you hear of George's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the spirituality it reflects is always present. It's earned an impressive legacy as one of George's best songs too.
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