Song facts: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

On September 5th 1968, The Beatles recorded While My Guitar Gently Weeps at Abbey Road. The song was written by George Harrison and features Eric Clapton on lead guitar. 

George Harrison and Paul McCartney at Abbey Road, 1968. 

George Harrison and Paul McCartney at Abbey Road, 1968. 

"I wrote While My Guitar Gently Weeps at my mother's house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes... The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there's no such thing as coincidence - every little item that's going down has a purpose.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book - as it would be a 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 Harrison

The Beatles' White Album sessions were often tense and turbulent but according to Harrison, when Eric Clapton showed up to play everyone was on their best behaviour.

"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." - George Harrison

An early acoustic take of the song with alternate lyrics can be found on The Beatles' Anthology 3 album; which George and Paul recorded on July 25th 1968. This take was the basis for the version released on The Beatles' Love album in 2006. 

George Harrison at Abbey Road, 1968. 

George Harrison at Abbey Road, 1968. 

Personnel 

  • George Harrison – double-tracked vocal, backing vocal, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, Hammond organ
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, piano, bass
  • John Lennon – electric guitar with tremolo
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, castanets
  • Eric Clapton – lead guitar (uncredited)

Anthology 3 version

  • George Harrison – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Paul McCartney – organ