Skip to main content

Song Facts: The Beatles — "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

''While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is not only one of the best songs George Harrison wrote with the Beatles — it's also one of the greatest songs on the White Album.

Whether it was jealousy, ego or apathy, the other members of the band didn't seem to care too much for the tune when Harrison introduced it to them and attempted to record initial takes on August 16. After more work on the song on September 3 and 5, he decided he didn't like what he heard and scrapped the recording.

He and the Beatles then promptly started over again, nailing a new backing track in 28 takes. The initial live backing track featured Harrison on acoustic guitar and guide vocals, John Lennon on electric, Paul McCartney on piano and Ringo Starr on drums.

Harrison later overdubbed double-tracked lead vocals, and McCartney recorded backing vocals and a bass line with Lennon playing in unison on either a Fender Bass VI or electric guitar.

Harrison's masterstroke was inviting his friend Eric Clapton to overdub lead guitar, which was recorded on a single track with Harrison's organ accompaniment on September 6.

Clapton initially refused to participate, saying, "Nobody ever plays on the Beatles' records." "So what?" Harrison countered. "It's my song." Clapton finally agreed to play, but he wanted his part to sound "Beatle-y." Harrison's solution was to process the track containing Clapton's guitar part and the organ with Artificial Double Tracking, varying the speed to create a pitch-wobbling effect.

RECORDED: September 5 and 6, 1968; Abbey Road Studio Two

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.