While My Guitar Gently Weeps

 
 

While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a song written by George Harrison, first recorded by The Beatles in 1968 for their eponymous double album (also known as The White Album). The song features a lead guitar solo by Eric Clapton, although he was not formally credited on the album. While My Guitar Gently Weeps is ranked at number 136 on Rolling Stone‍ ‘​s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, number 7 on the magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time, and number 10 on its list of The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs.

Inspiration for the song came to Harrison when reading the I Ching, which, as Harrison put it, “seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else… opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.” Taking this idea of relativism to his parents’ home in northern England, Harrison committed to write a song based on the first words he saw upon opening a random book. Those words were “gently weeps”, and he immediately began writing the song. As he said:

“I wrote While My Guitar Gently Weeps at my mother’s house in Warrington. I was thinking about the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Changes… The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence — every little item that’s going down has a purpose.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps was a simple study based on that theory. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book — as it would be relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random, opened it, saw ‘gently weeps’, then laid the book down again and started the song.”

The I Ching has had a lasting influence on both East and West. In the West, it attracted the attention of intellectuals as early as the days of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and in English translation, it had notable impact on 1960s counterculture figures such as Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges, I.M. Pei and Herman Hesse. Carl Jung wrote of the book, “Even to the most biased eye, it is obvious that this book represents one long admonition to careful scrutiny of one’s own character, attitude, and motives.”

 

To watch a clip of this song, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

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Twombly & Rauschenberg

During the late forties Cy Twombly‘s main interests were German Expressionism, the Dada movement, Kurt Schwitters‘ as well as Chaim Soutine‘s work. Saw for the first time reproductions of works by Jean Dubuffet and Alberto Giacometti which greatly impressed him.

Twombly arrived in Manhattan in 1950 while the New York School painting of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning was in full swing. That same year he continued his studies at the Art Students League in New York City on a tuition scholarship. During the second semester met Robert Rauschenburg who was the first person of his own age to share the same interests and preoccupations as an artist. Upon Robert Rauschenberg’s encouragement, Twombly joined him for the 1951–1952 sessions at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina – a liberal refuge, a site of free experimentation and exchange in a nation growing increasingly conservative during the Cold War. Among the influential teachers present at this time were Charles Olson, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and John Cage. Building on the freedom afforded by the previous generation, the younger artists emphasised libidinal energy integrated through experience.

For eight months spanning 1952–1953 Twombly and Rauschenberg travelled through Europe and north Africa, joined for a while by the writer Paul Bowles. Upon returning to New York, Rauschenberg set up the Fulton Street studio that Twombly sometimes shared. Eleanor Ward invited the two artists to exhibit at her Stable Gallery.

 

Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. Robert Rauschenberg, Venice, 1952

 

Portraits of Cy Twombly by his colleague Robert Rauschenberg