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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Clapton Isolated Guitar

Here's an absolute gem. It's Eric Clapton's isolated guitar track from George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" off the The Beatles White Album. Didn't know it was Clapton playing lead? It was a loosely held secret for a while, but EC was one of the few ringers that The Beatles used on their records. Clapton was brought in because he was a close mate of Harrison's, and since George wrote the song, he felt he had more say in who played on it.  Here are some things to listen for.

1) There's always been a question as to what gear Clapton used on the song, and none of the people at the session can remember exactly. Ken Scott (who engineered the session) told me that EC didn't bring any gear with him, preferring to use The Beatle's gear so he intentionally wouldn't sound like himself. Regardless, it sure sounds like he's using some sort of Gibson and a Marshall combo amp, although Ken says that The Beatles never used Marshalls and he never saw one in the studio. I suppose it could've been one the Fender's that they used if it was cranked. At any rate, that's one of the items that we're trying to determine for Ken's new book.

2) What struck me about the performance is how loose it is. It sounds like a single take as you hear EC switch between playing rhythm and lead. He never sounds sure of exactly what he's playing though, and you can hear the odd flub, especially in the B section and the transition between sections.

3) Listen for the toe taps as EC keeps time.

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CaptainVictory said...

One of my favorites so far -- thanks, Bobby! As for the guitar, the solo part between 1:45 and 1:55 strongly suggests a Stratocaster-style whammy bar.

DG said...

It's a Gibson LP all the way.

Brad said...

Sounds like humbuckers to me and the solo section is classic Clapton with string bending instead of a tremelo. I dont think I've ever seen Eric use a whammy on his strats??? Cant recall.

You're probably right about the amp being a Fender, Bobby. Sounds like a Fender Twin cranked all the way with no distortion pedal. I like how he uses effects for certain notes then clicks off. I hear the foot tapping too.

You're also right about this being one take. I can't hear any edits or punch ins. He's just playing along to the song very loosely and almost sounds like he's not completely familiar with the song. He probably learned it in the studio the day he tracked his part.

Oh, listen to it weep around 1:47


Zeek Duff said...

The bummer is, right after I posted links to all this on Facebook & Twitter, YouTube yanked the videos for copyright violation. Since when are bass (or guitar) tracks copyrightable? Doesn't that open a can of worms for all session players to get paid royalties? I'll take mine via PayPal, thanks...

Anonymous said...

Bummed I missed it. Doe anyone know where else to find this?

Bobby Owsinski said...

Unfortunately, the labels watch this blog and immediately send take-down notices when I find these things. I don't blame them actually, although it is a bummer.

Staffan William-Olsson said...

I can clearly hear the use of a vibrato bar at 3:05 and 3:50, and the whole end section sounds like it's played with one hand on the vibrola.

My vote goes to a vibrola-equipped SG. The sound is more SG than LP, anyway.

Prove me wrong.

This wouldn't be a big deal if Gibson wasn't trying to sell a replica of the Harrison-Clapton 1957 Les Paul Standard "Lucy" for 22K, claiming that it was used by Clapton on this song. EC himself says it was used for the recording, but his memory at that time wasn't totally reliable, and they might have recorded several takes using different guitars. The one that ended up on the White Album is played on a guitar with a vibrola or bigsby.


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