We were talking-about the space between us all
And the people-who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it's far too late-when they pass away.
We were talking-about the love we all could share-when we find it
To try our best to hold it there-with our love
With our love-we could save the world-if they only knew.
Try to realize it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows ON within you and without you.
We were talking-about the love that's gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don't know-they can't see-are you one of them?
When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you.
George Harrison ;
“It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn’t really that into it…I’d just got back from India, and my heart was still out there. After what had happened in 1966, everything else seemed like hard work. It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.”
A month later, to everyone’s relief, George popped in to the sessions with another composition that fit in perfectly with where his enthusiasm was right then. And it fit in perfectly with the kaleidoscope of musical genres on display on the album, depicting a euphoric atmosphere amazingly suited to the “summer of love” mentality of that year. The song was titled "Within You Without You."
But was the song accepted by the rest of the group?
John Lennon in Playboy (1980): “I think that is one of George’s best songs, one of my favourites of his. I like the arrangement, the sound and the words. He is clear on that song. You can hear his mind is clear and his music is clear. It’s his innate talent that comes through on that song, that brought that song together. George is responsible for Indian music getting over here. That song is a good example.”
Ringo Starr: “’Within You Without You’ is brilliant. I Love It!”
“Klaus had a harmonium in his house,” George remembers about that day, “which I hadn’t played before. I was doodling on it, playing to amuse myself, when ‘Within You’ started to come. The tune came first, and then I got the first sentence. It came out of what we’d been doing that evening.”
Since George Harrison was “a detached, reluctant participant” during the recording of the Pepper album, as Geoff Emerick described him, “George Martin must have known that he felt that way, which would explain why he was prepared to put so much time and effort into recording the song. My theory was that, while Harrison may well have felt trapped by the group’s fame and notoriety, he didn’t want to let the side down, either. That’s why there was such a sense of relief among everyone when the track turned out so well.”
Emerick continues: “Studio Two had a hardwood floor, so in order to dampen the sound, I normally put down carpeting underneath Ringo’s drums and in the area where Beatles vocals were recorded. But this time Richard and I got out a bunch of throw rugs and spread them all around the floor for the musicians to sit on, all in an effort to make them more comfortable and make the studio a bit more homey. Mind you, the Abbey Road rugs were completely moth-eaten and dilapidated…but it was the thought that counted.”
“All four Beatles were there when the basic track was recorded, along with famed illustrator Peter Blake, who was there to talk about the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album cover. He mostly huddled with Paul and John while George was busy instructing the musicians as to the parts he wanted them to play. Ringo, as usual, was lost in a game of chess off in a corner with Neil (Aspinall).”
The basic tracks for "Within You Without You" featured only Harrison and a group of uncredited Indian musicians based in London. Producer George Martin then arranged a string section, and Harrison and assistant Neil Aspinall overdubbed the tambura. According to Prema Music, dilruba player Amrit Gajjar played on the track. Hunter Davies wrote that Harrison "trained himself to write down his song in Indian script so that the Indian musicians can play them."
With "Within You Without You", Harrison became the second Beatle to record a song credited to The Beatles but featuring no other members of the group (Paul McCartney had previously done so with "Yesterday").
Song Recorded: March 15 & 22, April 3 & 4, 1967
George Harrison – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, tambura, sitar
Neil Aspinall – tambura
Erich Gruenberg, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene – violin
Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan – cello
Unnamed Indian musicians – swarmandal, dilruba, tabla, tambura
Personnel per Ian MacDonald