The original B side to the Beatles first single of 1968 is a George Harrison original composition entitled "The Inner Light". This is a song that has various Indian musicians and instruments and none of the Beatles play any instruments on this tune. The vocals are by the Beatles, however. This B side was the first B side to feature a George Harrison song. The lyrics for this song were inspired by a Japanese poem of the same name composed by Roshi.
The backing Indian instruments were recorded in India on Friday January 12 1968 at the Indian EMI recording studio, Universal Insurance Building, Bombay. There were five takes of this instrumental raga and the fifth take was used commercially. At this point the song remained untitled.
On Tuesday February 06 1968 back in London at EMI studio one, the instrumental tape was copied from two track to four track taking the song into take 06 and named "The Inner Light". Upon take 06 George Harrison added his main vocal. The song was then mixed for mono but not used commercially.
Two days later on February 08 1968 at EMI studio two, John and Paul harmonized with George on the two last vocal lines of the song. Once this was complete, three attempts at a mono mix were completed with the last mix being used commercially.
The song remained in mono until January 27 1970 when "The Inner Light" was finally mixed for stereo in one attempt from the control room of EMI studio two.
"The Inner Light" first appeared on the B side of the "Lady Madonna" single in the UK (Parlophone R 5675) and in North American (Capitol 2138). The song also appears on both the UK and North American versions of the Parlophone/Capitol "Rarities" LP and on the bonus Parlophone EP contained in the EP box set entitled "The Beatles" ( This was it's first official stereo appearance). Lastly, "The Inner Light" is also available on the EMI/Capitol 2-LP/CD "Past Masters Volume 2" as well as the Apple/EMI 2-CD "Mono Masters" and on the remastered stereo Apple EMI 2-CD "Past Masters".
A nice live version appears from 2002 from the George Harrison Tribute concert CD/DVD "Concert For George" performed by Jeff Lynne and a variety of Indian and western musicians.