Does a human being contain a unique soul that is controlled by an external creator, or is all matter expressions of one consciousness?
We don’t bother ourselves with such trivial questions, but in 1967 George Harrison did.
While Paul, and to a lesser extent John, were busting bullets and sweating balls constructing what many consider to be The Greatest Pop Album Ever Made (TM), George was “chilling out” and “getting his head together” and “figuring shit out” etc.
And who could blame him?
George Harrison was born into a stuffy dull-thinking, Irish Catholic family in boring black and white post-war Liverpool. He had, with very modest talent, stumbled into the middle of the world’s biggest cultural phenomenon since Hitler.
By age 21 he was more famous than the Pope but less famous than Ringo.
That kind of experience can drive you mad. It drove Harrison to a shop called “India Craft” in London where he bought an inexpensive sitar. His interest in Indian culture and Hinduism grew quickly. Hanging out with Norah Jones’s dad and other assorted gurus followed, mixed in with a lot of weed and psychedelics and before you know it there are Indian influences all over The Beatles recordings. This culminated with GH dragging the band to India, which is where they really started hating one another.
According to Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick there was lots of eye rolling when George played the song on guitar. As was often the case John and Paul were too busy to contribute to the track but George Martin put in a lot of extra effort and studio time to make it work. Maybe he pitied Harrison or maybe he was getting back some of the control he had lost to J&P on their recordings.
The backing track was recorded at Abbey Road by Indian musicians who where respected so much by The Beatles that they were not credited. We have hunted through the inter-web to find and acknowledge these players with little luck. Please forward their names to us should you know them.
To deaden the sound and make everyone more comfortable, throw rugs were placed all over Studio 2. One would expect that since the Beatles were the biggest selling act in the world they would want to make the guest musicians comfortable, but this was still Austerity Britain, so moth-eaten crappy carpets were the order of the day.
Five stars to George Martin and the London based string section on this recording. They had very little, if any, training in eastern music but do an excellent job picking the swoops and swirls. Also to Geoff Emerick, who’s close mic techniques made sure one could hear the bowing of each instrument clearly.
We approve of the chord structure in Within You Without You. There are no chords in Within You Without You.
George’s oddessy gained more strength within the group and soon he was dragging them all of to India which was were the band began to break up.
In our ukulele version we have slowed down the tempo and added the violence of twenty seven guitars distorting and resonating over one chord. The Explorers, SG’s , and Les Pauls falling over one another droning and aching while The Legendary Spottiswoode finds himself floating in nothingness.
He is tuning himself into the light of God, which he is anyway. He was distracted by material things for a moment but now he is part of one big ukulele consciousness. Everything is going to be just fine.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Spottiswoode, described as a “genius” and a “downtown ringleader” by The New Yorker, is an Englishman who has been on the New York scene for just over a decade. His songs have been covered and recorded by numerous East Village and Williamsburg musicians, and featured in a variety of mainstream and independent films.
However, Mr. Spottiswoode’s proudest accomplishment is the more than decade-long personality cult known as Spottiswoode & His Enemies. Since their January 1998 New York debut at the Mercury Lounge, Spottiswoode has somehow been able to hold together seven of New York’s finest musicians, put out a string of acclaimed records, perform residencies at New York’s best clubs, play Lincoln Center, tour the country, cross the ocean… all with a band that doesn’t even like him.