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"Not Guilty"

 (by George Harrison,
August 7th, 1968, Abbey Road Studios, London)

The story of this dates back far into 1968. The Beatles were back from Rishikesh-India just recently, and, by the journey, George was promoted to the spiritual leader of the band and, like the rest of the group, brought many songs from India, which should now get recorded at George's home in the legendary Kinfaus Sessions .

In Harrison's bungalow in Surrey, Kinfauns all Beatles cheerfully met in May 1968 and recorded their first ever unplugged session of the Beatles together. A later released CD from this period illuminates and proofs these wonderful acoustic excursions of the band without amplifiers and studio equipment, appearing so fresh and joyful that it is a pleasure to listen, and showing what the group was capable of, in a good mood and appropriate harmonic readiness. If these records would have been officially released as an Unplugged CD, it certainly would have found a very large fan base for it.

Only at the end of the Kinfauns Demo Tapes Sessions, George Harrison got the opportunity to record his songs, among them was the graceful version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Long Long Long" and four other songs, "Circles". "Sour Milk Sea," "Piggies" and "No Guilty". As usual, almost all the songs by Lennon-McCartney made it on the White Album, but from George only "Long Long Long," "Piggies," "Savoy Truffle" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" were accepted. Whereas "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" developed from a so very delicate acoustic version of a rock opus of epic proportions and has kept in mind worldwide admittedly as best song on the White Album.

("While My Guitar Gently Weeps" at YouTube)

The song "Sour Milk Sea" was written by George during the time in Rishikesh and reflects his experience with meditation. Later he considered the song being too spiritual to be taken up and produced by the Beatles, he suspected it intuitively and gave the song "Sour Milk Sea" to Jackie Lomax, an old friend from the Liverpool days who also was under contract at Apple, as well as James Taylor, who also had a big hit at Apple with "Caroline On My Mind". Jackie Lomax was the former lead singer of the Undertakers, a band from the time of Merseybeat which, like the Beatles, did in the early days in Liverpool breath. Both songs were cared for by the Beatle members, and Harrison also plays a legendary guitar part at Lomax'.

George recalls in his autobiography "I Me Mine": "I wrote Sour Milk Sea in Rishikesh, India. I never actually recorded the song - it was done by Jackie Lomax on his album "Is This What You Want". Anyway, it's based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Tantric art: it's a picture which is called Sour Milk Sea - Kalladi Samudra in Sanskrit - the origin and growth of Jambudvita, the central continent, surrounded by fish symbols, according to the geological theory of the evolution of organic life on Earth. The appearance of fishes marks the second stage. Well, that's the origin of the song title - but it's really about meditation:

Looking for release from limitation?
There's nothing much without illumination
Can fool around with every different cult
But there's only one thing which really brings results
Get out of Sour Milk Sea

I Used Sour Milk Sea as the idea of - if you're in the shit,
don't go around moaning about it :
do something about it :
Jai Guru Dev"

( "Sour Milk Sea" at YouTube)

The two remaining songs, "Circles" & "Not Guilty",George recorded years later, "Not Guilty" appeared on "All Things Must Pass" and "Circles" appeared on "Gone Troppo".

"Not Guilty" had more takes than any other recorded Beatles songs ever, a whopping 101. George Harrison said that this song is the little brother of "Wah-Wah", a settlement with Paul and John, who both got on his nerves pretty much with their constant nagging and their own private special eccentricity. George would say: "It was me getting pissed of with Lennon and McCartney for the grief I was catching during the making of this White Album. I said I wasn't guilty of getting in the way of their careers. I said I wasn't guilty of leading them astray in our all going to India to see the Maharishi. I was sticking up for myself and the song came off strong enough to be saved and utilised. "

Yogesvara alias J.M. Green tells the following in his illuminating book "Here Comes the Sun" (*):

"Life magazine described the year 1968 as 'the year of the gurus', and the Look magazine saw 'the great scribes of our time' in the Beatles. George himself was completely indifferent to he growing reputation of the group. 'He has found something more powerful than the Beatles', his wife, Pattie Harrison, told the Beatles biographer Hunter Davies. 'Nevertheless, he still wants to share with the others. " That stronger something - the consciousness of a spiritual destiny - equipped George with exceptional musical inspiration, and the compositions just flew off the shelves.

His song "Long Long Long" on the White Album contained a simple message of God's love for the lost and saved .... George embedded the muffled message in a dreamy pace and interpreted the song with Indian instruments and a folk guitar. Even in his early compositions he had had no shyness at all to merge elements from a variety of sources and cultures, if he liked them.

To spread the blessings of meditation, George blossomed into a clever advertising man. He transferred aphorisms from the Sanskrit text "Visvasara Tantra" to a different tune, which he had written in Rishikesh - it then became the heavy rock number "Sour Milk Sea". There it is said, is life getting you down? You never can relax? Bring it on with enlightenment. ! He wanted to communicate a simple rule of thumb, and chose a driving, hard blues guitar sound as a medium for it: If you're in the shit, don't run around and moan. Do something about it. !

The pilgrimage to Rishikesh had ushered in the most productive phase ushered in George's career, a phenomenon he attributed to the fact that he had become aware of his higher destiny there. "The more I get self-confident," he said to Life magazine later in the year, "the more it becomes clear to me that we are merely going through an incarnation with everything we do. Not only for ourselves, but rather for all others around us. "

("Not Guilty", Kinfauns Sessions, at YouTube)

In Rishikesh, George also figured out that his band mates were not interested fulfil their incarnation duties to the same extent as him. On the contrary, it rather seemed as if they could not wait to get back home to follow up to where they had stopped quarreling loudly. In July 1968 the tensions during the recording sessions had become so strong that the EMI engineer Geoff Emerick resigned from work because he couldn't endure the temper tantrums and the constant cursing any longer. When it's about enlightening others, George concluded, it was pure luck who feels appealed and who not. This thought he worked in a new song called "Not Guilty", which was recorded in August 1968 in Abbey Road studios. He said about it, "although the song is about that Lennon-McCartney gradually were annoying me with their demeanour, the song also said that I did not feel guilty if I should have gotten in their career's way, or if I should have brought them to a wrong track because we all had gone to Rishikesh to Maharishi", he said. "I only wanted to strike a blow for myself."

In public, he still preserved although the interests of the group, and even spoke to Time magazine in September 1968 like this: "We have not even started properly. We only have discovered just recently what we are able to do as musicians, which barriers we may cross. The future extends far beyond our imagination."

For the private citizen George Harrison however, his life as a Beatle approached an end. The trip to Rishikesh would be the last time that George went on a trip together with John, Paul and Ringo. For the moment, George was very much alone with his spiritual interests, and, despite Patties company, without friends with whom he could have shared the discoveries that changed his life so much. ! "

("Circles" at YouTube)

But, as the Maharishi said to George in the year of the guru:

""While the ways of the masses are throughout leading to moderate results, the one following his own path is steering to real sense of fulfillment according to the self."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, thats right ....

Just don't look too far, because everything is played out in our next and most immediate vicinity, which may, should and must serve us for instruction and for our overall progress. In the most far away and most distant planet radius, only the same is always repeated- for others. Let ourself be holy in our eternally and very own relationships with God, and in our daily and hourly work in him - and the world is a sanctuary for us everywhere.!

(*) Quotation sources:

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