The next song on side one of the Beatles double LP "The Beatles" (White Album) is an original George Harrison composition entitled "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". This song was written when George pulled out a copy of the "I Ching", opened the book to a random page and the first words he saw were "gently weeps". Thus a masterpiece was born.
The first recording for this song was attempted on Thursday July 25 1968 at EMI studio two where a few rehearsals of the song were recorded and taken away by George later in the evening. One take of a proper performance was also completed with George solo on the acoustic guitar and a harmonium played by either Paul or overdubbed by George. This unreleased (at the time) recording also contained a final verse that does not appear on the commercial version. The first aural existance of this tape was to be heard on the bootleg CD "Abbey Road Video Show". It later appeared on a myriad of bootlegs as a contender for the unreleased "Sessions" LP. Finally, this version was released in edited form on the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3". A version of this recording with overdubbed strings conducted by George Martin can be found on the Apple/EMI 2-LP/CD "Love".
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was re-made a month later on Friday August 16 1968 at EMI studio two. 14 takes of the basic included the instrumentation of Ringo on the drums, John on the organ, George on guitar and Paul on bass. A reduction was made taking the song into take 15.
A historic session took place On Tuesday September 03 1968 as this was the first Beatles recording to use eight-track rather than four-track. At EMI studio two, the four- track tape for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was transferred to eight-track making it ready for overdubs and taking the song into take 16. At this session, George Harrison tried to add a backwards guitar solo to the basic track.
Two day later on September 05 1968 once again at EMI studio two, George Harrison added two separate lead vocals, more drums and another guitar solo. Upon playback, George didn't like what he heard and the whole song was scrapped. It was decided to start from scratch. Therfore, another basic track was recorded (what ended up as the commercial version) with acoustic guitar and vocal by George, guitar by John, bass by Paul and drums by Ringo. Although announced officially as takes 17 to 44, it was the 25th take that perfected the basic track.
The next day on Friday September 06 in EMI studio two, a well-known guitarist by the name of Eric Clapton was recruited by George to play the guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Also added on this night were overdubs of George's vocal (with Paul on backing vocal), George adding some high organ notes, a fuzz bas by Paul and added percussion by Ringo.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was first mixed in stereo in one attempt on Monday October 07 1968 from EMI studio two. Two attempts at the mono mix were also completed on this day. None of the mono nor the studio mix were ever used commercially and the mixes would be re-done.
On Monday October 14 1968 - a week later - and once again from EMI studio two, two mono mix attempts and three stereo mix attempts were completed at this session. The differences with the previous mixes and these mixes were that the guitar solo played by Eric Clapton was "oscillated" so as to sound more "Beatley" according to Clapton. The mixes completed this day were used on the commercial release.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps " is available on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album) as well as the Apple 3-LP/2-CD "The Concert For Bangladesh (live version). The studio version is also available on the UK Parlophone and North American Capitol LP/CD "The Best of George Harrison".
Several live version of this tune exist with George playing the song on the aforementioned Concert for Bangla Desh as well as exising on several bootlegs of the 1974 "Dard Horse" tour. It is also heard for the 80s Prince's Trust and can be obtained on this LP. Finally, it was played during George's early 90s tour of Japan with the Eric Clapton band and was released on the Dark Horse 2-LP/CD "Live in Japan".