I always loved this tune . . . S.L.
Within You Without You - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Within You Without You was composed on a harmonium following a dinner party at the London home of Klaus Voorman, the German artist and musician whom The Beatles first met in Hamburg. Written by George Harrison, it is the only non Lennon-McCartney song on the Sgt Pepper album.
The song was George Harrison's second full-blown Indian recording, after Revolver's Love You To. Although regarded by some as a dull interlude in the otherwise masterful Sgt Pepper, Within You Without You encapsulated the exploration of spiritual themes that had become popular in 1967's Summer of Love.
Clear references to the counterculture ('Are you one of them?') and the LSD-related ego death ('And to see you're really only very small and life flows on within you and without you') can be found amid the more other-worldly exploration of spiritual philosophy and religious teachings.
The laughter at the end of the track was Harrison's idea. While some listeners initially thought it was the sound of the other Beatles mocking his songwriting effort, it was in fact meant to lighten the mood after five minutes of sad, almost mournful, music.
"Within You Without You came about after I had spent a bit of time in India and fallen under the spell of the country and its music. I had brought back a lot of instruments. It was written at Klaus Voormann's house in Hampstead after dinner one night. The song came to me when I was playing a pedal harmonium.
I'd also spent a lot of time with Ravi Shankar, trying to figure out how to sit and hold the sitar, and how to play it. Within You Without You was a song that I wrote based upon a piece of music of Ravi's that he'd recorded for All-India Radio. It was a very long piece - maybe 30 or 40 minutes - and was written in different parts, with a progression in each. I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I'd discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later."
- George Harrison
If I had known I could have been a rock star if I could have played one of these, I might have paid more attention way back in the day . . .