Paul McCartney once revealed his favorite version of George Harrison’s Beatles song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It wasn’t the original recording of The White Album. Interestingly, George’s favorite wasn’t the original either.
Every Fab Four had creative ways to come up with songs. They had their influences and other things that helped them. George’s goal was spirituality and philosophy. In his 1980 memoir me mineGeorge said Chinese philosophy helped him write While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
George explained that he had a copy of it I walkedthe chinese classic Book of Changeswhich seemed to him to be “based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative everything different, as opposed to the western view that things are just random.”
He continued: “This idea came to mind when I visited my parents’ home in the north of England. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw when I opened a book – how it would be relative to that moment the Time.
“I picked a book at random – opened it – saw ‘weeps softly’ – then I put the book down and started the song. Some of the song’s words were changed before I finally recorded it – as seen here: “I look upon the anger / And hate that rages / While my guitar gently cries / As I sit here / Nothing else to do with aging.” [sic].'”
In the recording studio, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” became the first Beatles song to be played by someone outside of the band. George said his ego would have preferred Eric Clapton to play the guitar solo.
In the mid-1990s, The Beatles and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, began work on one of their biggest projects of all time. The Beatles Anthology, which became an eight-part documentary, a three-volume set of double albums, and a book. The albums consisted mostly of never-before-released Beatles material, including unheard versions of their famous songs.
In a video recorded during the making of anthology 3Paul revealed that he liked the album version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” rather than the album version.
He said, “That ‘Guitar Gently Weeps’ is the best version though, which I like now anyway, which is George’s solo version.”
anthology 3‘s version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” features only George and his acoustic guitar. It’s simple, but contains just as much emotion as the original. George would have agreed with Paul that the best version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” isn’t the original recording. However, he liked a very different rendition.
For George, the best version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” isn’t the album version or anthology 3‘s; it is his live version recorded during his 1991 Japan tour. He told Scott Muni on WNEW-FM (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters) that his live performance sounded better than the original recording.
“Well the obvious one when Eric and I get together is the first song we’ve ever done together which is ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and I’m particularly happy with how it turned out on the live version . I think it’s far superior to the original studio recording, and Eric just plays his butt. It is very good.”
There’s another memorable version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” but George had no part in it. At his posthumous induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, George’s Wilbury friends and fellow travelers Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, along with Prince and others, performed the song. Prince’s performance was unexpected and he belted out one of his most iconic solos.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a song that has stood the test of time. So each version is just as good as the other.