Viewing the Distant and The Inner Light

VIEWING THE DISTANT

1. “Without passing out of the gate
The world’s course I prognosticate.
Without peeping through the window
The heavenly Reason I contemplate.
The further one goes,
The less one knows.”

2. Therefore the holy man does not travel, and yet he has knowledge. He does not see things, and yet he defines them. He does not labor, and yet he completes.

Tao Te Ching (Chapter 47)

Attributed to Laozi

 
 

 
 

The Inner Light is a song written by George Harrison that was first released by The Beatles as a B-side to Lady Madonna. It was the first Harrison composition to be featured on a Beatles single. The lyrics are a rendering of the 47th chapter (sometimes titled Viewing the Distant in translations) of the Taoist Tao Te Ching. An instrumental alternate take was released in 2014 on George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music remastered CD as a bonus track.

In his autobiography I, Me, Mine, Harrison writes that the song was inspired by a letter from Juan Mascaró, a Sanskrit scholar at Cambridge University, who sent him a copy of his book Lamps of Fire (a wide-ranging anthology of religious writings, including some from the Tao Te Ching) and asked him: “… might it not be interesting to put into your music a few words of Tao, for example number 48, page 66 of the book.” Harrison states: “In the original poem, the verse says ‘Without going out of my door, I can know the ways of heaven.’ And so to prevent any misinterpretations — and also to make the song a bit longer — I did repeat that as a second verse but made it: “Without going out of your door / You can know all things on earth / Without looking out of your window / You can know the ways of heaven” — so that it included everybody”. The passage Harrison refers to, however, corresponds to what English translations normally number as “47”, rather than “48”. D. C. Lau’s translation of the Tao Te Ching 47, for example, states: “Without stirring abroad / One can know the whole world / Without looking out of the window / One can see the way of heaven.”

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The Brick Did Have to Go

“Well I remember that wall, that brick … Bob Gill and I never quite recovered our compatibility but the brick did have to go. Were we right? Yes.”

Derek Taylor

(recalling difficulties with artist Bob Gill over Harrison’s requested alteration to his cover design)

 
 

Front cover

 
 

Wonderwall Music is the soundtrack album to the film Wonderwall (Joe Massot, 1968), and the debut solo release by English musician George Harrison. It was the first album to be issued on The Beatles‘ Apple record label, and the first solo album by a member of that band. The songs are all instrumental pieces, except for occasional non-English vocals, and a slowed-down spoken word segment on the track Dream Scene. Harrison recorded the album between November 1967 and February 1968, with sessions taking place in London and the Indian city of Bombay. Following his Indian-styled compositions for the Beatles since 1966, he used the film soundtrack to further promote Indian classical music by introducing rock audiences to musical instruments that were relatively little-known in the West – including shehnai, sarod and santoor. During the sessions, Harrison recorded many other pieces that appeared in Wonderwall but not on the soundtrack album, and the Beatles’ song The Inner Light also originated from his time in Bombay. Although the album’s release in November 1968 marked the end of Harrison’s direct involvement with Indian music, it inspired his later collaborations with Ravi Shankar, including the 1974 Music Festival from India.

For the front cover of Wonderwall Music (, American artist Bob Gill painted a picture in the style of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The painting shows a formally dressed man “separated by a huge red brick wall from a group of happy bathing Indian maidens”, Bruce Spizer writes. Apple executive Derek Taylor, whom Harrison had invited to help run the Beatles’ label in early 1968, later recalled of Gill’s submission: “It was a nice painting but missed the essence of hope.” To Gill’s chagrin, Harrison requested that a brick be removed from the wall, because he deemed it important to “give the fellow on the other side a chance, just as the Jack MacGowran character had a chance [in the film]”.

 
 

Back cover

 
 

For the back cover, Harrison chose a photo of part of the Berlin Wall, which designers John Kelly and Alan Aldridge then manipulated and mirrored to represent a corner. Taylor describes the result as innovative for its time, with the wall made to look “proud and sharp as the prow of a liner”.

 
 

 
 

The sleeve was designed so that the rear face appeared upside down relative to the front. In America, some copies of the LP had the Berlin Wall image mistakenly printed on the front, which made for “a less than exciting cover to be sure”, in Madinger and Easter’s opinion. Included on the LP’s sleeve insert was a black-and-white photograph of Harrison taken by Astrid Kirchherr (credited as Astrid Kemp, since 1967, Kirchherr married English drummer Gibson Kemp).

Through The Wonderwall

Theatrical movie poster
 

Wonderwall is a 1968 film by first-time director Joe Massot that stars Jane Birkin, Jack MacGowran, and Iain Quarrier, and features Richard Wattis and Irene Handl, and a cameo by Dutch collective The Fool, who were also set designers for the film.

 

 

The reclusive, eccentric scientist Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran) has for next-door neighbours a pop photographer (Iain Quarrier) and his girlfriend/model Penny Lane (Jane Birkin). Discovering a beam of light streaming through a hole in the wall between them, Collins follows the light and spots Penny modelling for a photo shoot. Intrigued, he begins to make more holes, as days go by and they do more photo sessions. Oscar gradually becomes infatuated with the girl, and feels a part of the couple’s lives, even forsaking work to observe them. When they quarrel and the couple split, Penny takes an overdose of pills and passes out, but Oscar comes to her rescue.

 

The film is best remembered for its soundtrack, composed by then-Beatle George Harrison. Harrison had never done a film soundtrack, and told Massot he did not know how to do it, but when Massot promised to use whatever Harrison created, Harrison took the job.With Massot allowing him full artistic control, Harrison treated the soundtrack as an opportunity to further educate rock and pop audiences in facets of Indian music. Harrison’s key collaborator on the project was John Barham, who, as a classically trained pianist and musical arranger, annotated the melodies that Harrison sang to him and transcribed them onto sheet music for the Indian musicians. Leng describes Barham as Harrison’s “fellow traveler”, due to the two musicians’ shared appreciation of Indian classical music, and writes that because Harrison needed a collaborator who “empathized with his [musical] ideas”, Barham was a natural choice over George Martin, the Beatles’ producer and orchestral arranger.

To watch the trailer of this movie, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

About an Imaginary Friend

 

Wonderwall is a song by English rock band Oasis, written by the band’s guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher. The song was produced by Owen Morris and Gallagher for their second album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?.

Contrary to popular belief, the song’s title was not appropriated from Wonderwall, a 1968 film with its soundtrack album (Wonderwall Music) by George Harrison. It remains one of the band’s most popular songs; on 9 June 2013, it was voted number one on Australian alternative music radio station Triple J’s “20 Years of the Hottest 100”. Many notable artists have also covered the song, such as rock singer Ryan Adams in 2003, folk singer Cat Power, and jazz musician Brad Mehldau in 2008.

“Wonderwall” was written for Gallagher’s then-girlfriend, Meg Mathews, as Gallagher told NME in 1996: “It’s about my girlfriend, Meg Matthews.” However, after Gallagher divorced Matthews in 2001, he said the song was not about Matthews: “[the song was] about an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself.”

The music video to the song was filmed by director Nigel Dick with his regular collaborator DOP Ali Asad in the relatively brief period when bassist Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan quit the band due to nervous exhaustion; Scott McLeod came in to replace him.

An alternative version, possibly a bootleg recording, exists and is viewable online. It features a single fixed camera shot, the same as is seen in the more common video, of the five band members miming to the song.

The sleeve artwork was inspired by the paintings of the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, and was shot on Primrose Hill in north London. The hand holding the frame is that of art director Brian Cannon. The original idea was to have Liam in the frame before Noel vetoed that idea whilst the shoot was taking place. Instead a female figure was deemed necessary and Anita Heryet, a Creation Records employee, was asked to stand in as cover star for the shot.

 

To watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl