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Reference Library: It's Is All You Need

Newsgroups: rec.music.beatles
From: dlm3@quads.uchicago.edu (saki)
Subject: Re: Guitar weeping..
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 1996 07:17:14 GMT


Bob Johns (100710.640@CompuServe.COM) wrote:

Can anyone tell me (as a naive new Beatles fan), who George Harrison is refering too in My Guitar Gently weeps? Particularly the line `I look at you all and I see all the love that is sleeping...`

It's about love.

Love unrealized, love left in its seed, unscarified, unborn. It's the love that's sleeping, the love that's never burst its vegetal bud.

And with it are all the unrealized realities of life; the grim dimensionless soul that has no determination, who is bought and sold and controlled by someone else.

Worse yet, it's the love that never declares itself, the love that lacks courage to *be*. And that's the greatest tragedy of all! (Check out Dr. Macca's late-period solo work "This One" for a fine treatise on what one ought to do before one loses the opportunity forever).

But re: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps":

This is the cynical view, of course. Harrison was ever the complainer, the lamenter, the mourner of love's lost opportunity. That's what his guitar weeps for here (or perhaps it's more accurate to say that Eric Clapton's guitar is the one that weeps!).

But is it so surprising that the Beatles usually write about love?

Almost all their songs explore it, one way or another. And if you're at a loss to understand what they mean, in almost any given circumstance, try love.

Odd thing, that. You take four average guys from any one town, mix them together with whatever talent they may happen to have, whatever camaraderie, whatever stray spark of occasional genius...and rare's the outcome that you'll get such universal eloquence about a topic we're all supposed to understand already.

Yet we don't understand it. If we did, the music wouldn't have such power over us. The message is like a prayer, a mantra---some elemental lesson we're all too dense to comprehend, most of the time.

Even in these cavalier years, our ironic nineties, we're capable of falling down in a dead faint over the deft certainty of lyrical truth, when it's presented to us by singers who (it was once said) had ceased to grant us their wisdom some twenty-six years ago: "Thought I'd been in love before/But in my heart I wanted more...."

Maybe that's why poets got away with writing love ballads, for so many centuries...our memories (collective and otherwise) are too weak to recall love's truth, without some modern balladeer to remind us.

The particular balladeers on whom we depend have never failed us. And how fortunate that they regrouped to bring home this vision once more!

But how did the Beatles learn it so well? Where did they get this insight? Who was responsible for their prescience?

Because when you look at their lives---at least their lives in the sixties---it's hard to imagine that their personal experiences could have added up to such a divine equation.

They seemed to have such varieties of upbringing, of minor romantic tempests. Surely mere biography can't explain how they knew the multihued threads of love's tapestry.

But no matter where you turn, that's what they sing, in a lyrical and harmonic weave that's as sacred as the truths of antiquity.

More than any other noun in their compositional oeuvre, they remark on the subject of love. That's they word that occurs more often than any other (save the odd determiner or pronoun): "Love".

And how many permutations and intricacies!

From the simplest:

You know I love you. You're the only love. You'll never know how much I really love you. Only a fool would doubt our love. Imagine I'm in love with you. Deep in love, not a lot to say. I'm in love for the first time, don't you know it's gonna last....

To the most complex:

You've got to hide your love away. I would hate my disappointment to show. I'm not what I appear to be. Or should I say she once had me. How can you laugh when you know I'm down? Love was such an easy game to play. And she promises the earth to me and I believe her. When she says her love is dead you think she needs you. Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight....

To the hopeful:

Love you whenever we're together, love you when we're apart. Seems that all I've really been doing, is waiting for you....

I know Beatlemania was full of hype and hyperbole, but when you strip it back to its inner essential kernel (which is exactly what you have to do in any proper harvest), the everyday effluvia falls back like a bad dream, and you're left with the message most pop groups of the nineties (let alone the sixties!) would *never* admit was vital to humankind.

But it's no different now than it was thirty years ago, or three hundred, or three thousand.

Men and women love just the same. And the Beatles found out the heart's most inner need, and keep repeating it to us, lest we forget the message we've been trying to learn since our minds first felt conscious thought, and first yearned to hear the warmth of love articulated in sound.

If anyone desires it, that message is still fresh and sweet in their songs.

All one needs is the faith to perceive it.


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"Sometimes you think you're crazy, but you know you're only mad."
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saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu


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