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Author Topic: While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Simon Leng (audiobook version)  (Read 368 times)

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Moogmodule

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To avoid election talk (Australian in this case) I've taken to downloading audio books to listen to in driving time.

To kick off I started with While My Guitar Gently Weeps, by Simon Leng, which focuses on George's music, both during and after the Beatles.

I though I'd start with this as an audio book as it wasn't available on my kindle as a normal book.

Since it's an audiobook, it doesn't include any music examples. Which makes sense of course but, given the availability of podcasts which combine a narrative and music, it takes a bit of getting used to to hear songs described and not have some examples inserted provided. Of course if listening on an iPhone or similar (there is a specialist app if bought from Amazon) you can always shift to your music library to listen to the music yourself at appropriate junctures if the mood takes you.

Overall I'd say this is a must for George fans. Particularly fans of his post Beatle music.  Leng is comprehensive, dealing with each song of every album, singles and b-sides. He provides both a musical and lyrical assessment as well as an overall evaluation of his views on the songs quality and its relative merit in George's oeuvre.

In addition he also includes Georges work with other artists, including where he just played some slide guitar as a session musician. The book isn't just a dry listing of songs. Leng provides a context to all of Georges projects, largely musical but also touches on George's private life where this is relevant to understand his music.

Leng is a sympathetic assessor, obviously a fan but is grounded and doesn't resile from criticism. It underlines well how 1974 was such a pivotal year for George. How he fell from the top of the tree to the ground and never really recovered, even if he did have his comeback in the late 80s. He provides more context to the Dark Horse tour to show it wasn't the unmitigated disaster that has become received wisdom, due in particular to Rolling Stone and Ben Fong Torres, who descended on George like lions on a stumbling gazelle. The tour clearly had its problems. But there were many positive reviews of the concerts and audience reception was generally good. And with hindsight, George's inclusion of the Indian music set can be seen as ahead of its time. But, with his voice clearly in inadequate shape to do a tour, and a rushed and sub-standard album, George allowed critics ready to tear down a Beatle way too much opportunity.  His decision to minimise (and bastardise) Beatle material on the tour was also a major error of judgement.

George's estrangement from the music industry, which culminated with Warner's rejection of the original version of Somewhere in England, is well documented and shows, how by the time of Gone Troppo, he's making music for himself with any public success incidental. Which was fortunate as success by this stage was pretty much non existent.

Leng's song by song approach also builds a detailed picture of the development of George's guitar playing as he blossomed into a great slide guitarist.

The edition I listened to was from 2012. So the book goes all the way up to Brainwashed. Which will interest those with a completist tendency.

It's a great read (or listen) depending in which format you buy it.
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