the impact of While My Guitar Gently Weeps
This is a cross post from my normal site
There is something incredible about this song. It has spawned 2 of the best covers in history. First, a bit about the song. What is fascinating and historical about that song it that it is the first time anyone from the outside recorded with the Beatles. I am talking about Eric Clapton doing the lead slide guitar on that song. He was invited last minute, as a close friend of George's... and as a favor. The other Beatles were NOT amused and NOT happy. The Beatles were the biggest and the best, and they knew it. George bringing in a guitar ringer was seen as a major dick move. Well, not seen... it was a major dick move. George wasn't there to write songs. That was Paul and John's job. George didn't get songs on record until the very end. When he did, he knocked us out: Here Comes the Sun, Taxman, Something in the Way She Moves, While My Guitar..., I Me Mine
We know now that musically, it was 100% the right thing to do. But... among the band it was unkind. They didn't discuss it, and George didn't ask permission. Imagine if you are Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan and the director says "we are going to bring in a pro to punch up some of your fight scenes". Imagine if Michael Jackson's manager told Michael he was bringing in a professional dancer for the concert tonight. It's ok, though, you can still sing if you want".
That isn't what we are talking about today, though. We are talking about the impact this song has had. Watch this performance. This was taken with a cell phone of a kid in Central Park with a ukulele. A ukulele is only four strings, and each string is the same thickness. Point being, Ukuleles are known to have dick for range. Watch what this kid does. He gets the melody, the verses, the intro... it is simply unbelievable. This kid, quite appropriately, has built an entire musical career off of this video. His name is Jake Shimabukuru
Pretty great, huh? Now watch this. If you google "the greatest guitar solo" you will come to this video. This is Prince doing a solo on said song for the Rock Hall of Fame. It is said he didn't even know the song until rehearsal. I believe it, because Prince is a narcissistic asshole. He is also, though, one of the greatest guitar players alive. Here is the proof. * oh, here is the weird part. He doesn't even show up on stage until half way through the song. If you would like, fast forward to the 3:30 minute mark. The song is over, it is just an outro that goes into outer space.
Part of me thinks jesus, what a dick. "look at me, I'm Prince. I am better than everyone. Watch me hijack everything. I don't even like the Beatles, I'm Prince" But, his performance is so amazing that all is forgiven. It isn't just that he can play fast. Too many guitarists think speed is everything. Kirk Hammet, I am looking in your direction. Speed means nothing without context and emotion.