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"The Inner Light"

 (by George Harrison, February 8th 1968,
Abbey Road Studios, London)



A Hymn To The Senses

This song is the last of George Harrison's Indian recordings for the Beatles. The recordings were taken in the HMV (His Masters Voice) studio in Bombay. There, Master Harrison spent five days at the Indian sounds to be incorporated into his solo work, "Wonderwall". And basically "The Inner Light" was something like an advance single for Wonderwall, a foretaste, one could say, of what could be expected on Wonderwall, where Master Harrison then would act out  himself and make the first world music recording. This Wonderwall LP basically is something like "the best of two worlds - East meets West - or Yin and Yang.

This exceptional musical piece of "The Inner Light" is an original solo by George, because Paul and John only have contributed a few vocal overdubs to the last mix.


(Beatles "The Inner Light" at YouTube)


The Inner Light is another hymn to the senses. The text is largely inspired by a Chinese translation of the Tao Te Ching, arising from the sage Lao Tse (ie the old master) 300 BC. In his wise words, Lao Tse reveals eternal truths. Here's an example:

"Without stepping out of the House / one can see the world / without looking out of the window / one can see the meaning of the sky / more one is coming out of himself / the less he can go into himself / so the wise reaches his goal without walking / he calls your name without looking / he does nothing and gains everything. Who knows others / is clever / who knows himself / he is enlightened and wise / who conquers others / he is strong / who conquers himself / he is a hero / who has enough / is rich / who wants meekness / his will is done / who doesn't leave his place frivolous / he will find his place anywhere / who doesn't let death kill him / he lives forever."

LSD had awakened and fertilized the inquiry spirit of Sir George. Searching for the meaning of life, where do I come from, and where do I go, why do I live at all, that was highly desirable in this phase of the Beatles from all cultures .!

George Harrison recalls in his book I Me Mine ":
"The Inner Light came really, from Within You, Without You. There was a David Frost show on television about meditation - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was interviewed, on tape with John Lennon and myself live, and amongst many others in the audience was Juan Mascara who is the Sanskrit teacher at Cambridge University. He wrote me a letter later saying .... a few days ago two friends from abroad gave me the recording of your song Within You Without You. I am very happy, it is a moving song, and may it move the souls of millions, and there is more to come, as you are only beginning on that great journey. He also send me a copy of a book called " Lamps of Fire " and in this letter he says .... might it not be interesting to put into your music a few words of Tao, for example number 48, page 66 of the book. And thats where the words to The Inner Light come from, it's a translation from the Tao Te Ching. His letter is reproduced here together with the page from the book. The instruments were all Indian, all played by Indian musicians and recorded in H.M.V. Studios in Bombay. I think the song went unnoticed by most people, because I was getting a bid out of it as far as Western popular music was concerned, at that period. 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 asecond 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 song was written especially for Juan Mascaro because he sent me the book and is a sweet old man. It was nice, the words said everything."
Amen.

His holiness the Maharishi, however, also harboured hopes for a successful recording career. The negotiations with the Liberty label on a spoken-word album had been completed. The Beatles became distrustful over the proposal of the Maharishi, the Beatles could park part of their income on the Swiss numbered account of his sacred immortality. The magazine "Private Eye" then caricatured the guru as "Veryrichy Muchmoney Yogi Bear!


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