Pressed play on this classic Beatles x Eric Clapton number I watch often. ‘Watch’ being the key word, not just listen to. Because you have got to watch two people in this video. Two people who seem to be emanating music from their very soul – Eric Clapton and Phil Collins.
Watch Eric Clapton on his guitar, with that solo, mmh! And watch Phil Collins lost in a trance, really feeling the music with his drums.
Gosh, I absolutely LOVE this song, but WATCHING these legends doing their thang in this live concert(video inset below), is a whole another experience. I am jealous of the crowd that watched them live that day.
George Harrison , who lent his plaintive voice to the song, is also the one also wrote it. The story goes that George was a spiritual man. He used to practise Transcendental Meditation, which then also prompted The Beatles’ trip to India in 1968. Upon his return to Britain, his interest drew him to The Chinese Book of Changes- I Ching. He opened a random page and the first words he saw was “gently weeps”, which became his inspiration for the lyrics of this song.
On listening to the song, one can feel the angst and an unmistakable sense that he felt a lack of love and true connection in his world. An aching helplessness of not being understood. An inability to make things better. He pins onto some hope that people are learning from their mistakes, people care, if only they could find it in themselves to show the love that is surely there somewhere in the deep cockles of their heart. At the same time it seems like he is resigning himself to the fact that it how things are meant to be, so be it, or just…“let it be”. What’s amazing is how these views aren’t just true for his personal relationships, but also ring true for his opinion on the state of mankind as a whole. He was intrigued by the Eastern idea of relativism which believed that there is a reason for everything that happens, that nothing is mere coincidence, that whatever happens is meant to be. As per Wiki- “The song is a lament for how a universal love for humankind is latent in all individuals yet remains unrealised.” I believe it was around the time that one noticed trouble within the band and the period that marked the beginning its disintegration.
A look at the discarded and unused lyrics (per Wikipedia) gives us keener insights into his state of mind when he penned the song –
A demo that Harrison recorded at his home includes an unused verse:
“I look at the trouble and hate that is raging,
As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but ageing …”
This version also includes the line :
“The problems you sow
are the troubles you’re reaping”, which he similarly discarded.
An earlier acoustic guitar and harmonium version included:
“I look from the wings
at the play you are staging ,
While my guitar gently weeps ,
As I’m sitting here, doing nothing but ageing”Source: Wikipedia While My Guitar Gently Weeps – Wikipedia
This live performance, by absolute legends in Music, is classic and unique, in that, it engulfs you in its melancholy, making you feel slightly downhearted by the despair it expresses… BUT at the same time you feel somehow strangely healed by the wistful expression of it all. By the end of it, you’re almost ecstatic that by just watching them perform, you have shared in a little of what they were feeling on stage. Its a song I personally feel a great connection to, and not for any particular reason at all.
While the genius of Ringo Starr and George Harrison cannot be discounted in the much celebrated live performance, it is Eric Clapton and Phil Collins for whom I return to this video again and again. It would be apt to describe Eric Clapton’s guitar solo here, in the words of another famous song, as the “strumming of pain with his fingers.” And Phil Collins as the single most captivating performer on that stage, with his eyes closed.
© 2020 Aanchal Nithin Prakashan All Rights Reserved.