Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday ~ That Gently Weeping Guitar

The lyrics of George Harrison's beautiful composition, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
are so meaningful, yet to my mind many artists, however illustrious their record, do not give the piece's meaning enough weight in cover versions.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.
Those lyrics are written in such a way that they can be understood either literally or metaphorically.

Literally, one can imagine the singer sitting in the corner of a bedroom watching loved ones sleeping, possibly some have been in trouble or are unhappy. He sings that they are capable of so much love, so much good, but they have been led astray, “perverted” by…could be by weakness or manipulation by others. The possibility for change, through love, remains.

Metaphorically, the sleepers become the whole of humanity. We are innately capable of so much love, yet we have been drawn away from its focus by manipulation, greed, lust, hatred - perversion, by others, or by governments, media, leaders, the Powers That Be.

The singer sees these things, and even his guitar weeps. Literally he sees dirt on the floor around him, metaphorically he sees the wrongs and injustices of life continuing, day after day, and nobody tries to change them - they need sweeping away, just like the dirt on his floor.

There’s a lovely version of the song in the movie “Across the Universe”, it is played when the leading character and a friend first hear of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. The words fit that terrible, and sad, situation so well. This version, for me is the ultimate and definitive vocal version, sung by Martin Luther McCoy and Jim Sturgess. As it is MLK Day today, 15 January, it makes this reference to the song even more apt.

For me, many vocal versions do not do the lyrics' meaning proper justice - the words are virtually thrown away. Looking for some version that would satisfy me, I found two - strangely they are both jazz versions - but the musicians really understood what the lyrics are all about and were able to interpret them beautifully, instrumentally.

British violinist Nigel Kennedy's great instrumental version is eminently goosebump-worthy!

Another great jazz version is played by Portland Oregon group, Black Chamber. I love this, and the video images accompanying it are so apt.


Twilight said...

Comment received from "JD" in the UK
A happy new year to you and Anyjazz! :)
Good post about George - you wrote "Those lyrics are written in such a way that they can be understood either literally or metaphorically." If you read this book you will get a deeper understanding of how and why he came to write them. He endorses the book on its back cover and Yogananda is featured on the cover of Sergeant Pepper. That book also inspired his lyrics on so many other songs; "Beware of Darkness" for example.

Twilight said...

JD ~ Thank you kindly, and a Happy New Year to you!
I shall now go look for "Beware of Darkness" - I don't remember ever hearing it. :)