Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Beatles: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

I saw a comment on Twitter about Richard Curtis's new film Yesterday, which imagines a world in which the Beatles have not existed.

The comment said something to the effect that this world would be terrible, because all the music would be like Cliff Richard.

That, of course, nonsense. There were plenty of other British bands influenced by Black American rhythm and blues in the early 1960s, and plenty of them made the same move to psychedelic music later in the decade.

I have a problem with The Beatles - and not just that their name is a lame pun. I can see they are good, but as with Mozart in classical music, I can't see why they are better than other people who were around at the time. That reaction to the film was somehow typical of the reverence with which The Beatles are treated.

Maybe it is Brian Epstein's styling, which is part of what made them pre-eminent by giving them family appeal, that puts me off them now. But whatever the reason, I have only chosen cover versions of their songs - by The Jam and Laibach - on this blog.

But here is a Beatles song, but one with a difference. It is written by George Harrison, not Lennon and McCartney, and Eric Clapton plays the guitar solo.

Harrison later explained how this came about:
We tried to record it, but John and Paul were so used to just cranking out their tunes that it was very difficult at times to get serious and record one of mine. It wasn't happening. They weren't taking it seriously and I don't think they were even all playing on it, and so I went home that night thinking, 'Well, that's a shame,' because I knew the song was pretty good. 
The next day I was driving into London with Eric Clapton, and I said, "What are you doing today? Why don't you come to the studio and play on this song for me?" He said, "Oh, no – I can't do that. Nobody's ever played on a Beatles record and the others wouldn't like it." I said, "Look, it's my song and I'd like you to play on it."
So he came in. I said, "Eric's going to play on this one," and it was good because that then made everyone act better. Paul got on the piano and played a nice intro and they all took it more seriously.

1 comment:

brandnewguy said...

I agree with your sentiments. George has always been my 'favourite Beatle' and it's interesting that he's also the choice of many musicians. And IMHO "All Things Must Pass" was the best work put out by any of the group after they'd split up. For your enjoyment, here's Prince performing a crazily wonderful show-stealing solo during "While My Guitar..." at the George Harrison tribute show in 2004: