Sunday, 16 October 2016

From the Tao Te Ching

Back then, in 1968, singles cost, in Britain anyway, seven and six. My weekly pocket money was two and six. At that time I worked a paper round just so I could fund my record and comic book habit. "Lady Madonna" was the last Beatle song on the Parlophone label after which all Beatles songs were released on Apple. "Lady Madonna" was, still is, a great song but it was the B-side that really fascinated me.

George Harrison's "The Inner Light" had my brain turning cartwheels. What on earth was it all about? Some kind of Hindu mysticism I thought. You know, the sort of stuff they, The Beatles that is, specifically George, were into. I was wrong. The song was a rendition of the 47th piece from the Tao Te Ching.

Harrison's lyrics, in fact, the whole musical arrangement, are a master lesson in melody but also in the way in which music from another continent, Third World music, could so easily find universal appeal.

Here are George's words...

"Without going out of my door,
I can know all things of earth
Without looking out of my window
I could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels, the less one knows
The less one really knows
Without going out of your door
You can know all things on earth
Without looking out of your window
You could know the ways of heaven
The farther one travels, the less one knows
The less one really knows
Arrive without traveling, see all without looking
Do all without doing"

They are different to the original though but that, of course, is the way of another rendering a thing that has inspired them.

The words from the Tao Te Ching are these...

"Without opening your door,
you can open the heart of the world.
Without looking out of your window,
you can see the essence of Tao.

The more you know,
the less you understand.

The master arrives without leaving,
sees the light without looking,
achieves without doing a thing."

Harrison really captured the beauty but also the meaning of the words perfectly. A song has its own limits but in this instance, his version only adds without detraction to the original.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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