“The Inner Light” is the B-side to The Beatles’ 1968 single, “Lady Madonna”. Therefore, it wasn’t available on an album until the compilation albums came out. However, on their “Love” album, part of the track is on “Here Comes The Sun“. This happens at the end of the song as it ends with the Indian instrumentation from “The Inner Light”.
Format: 7-inch single (B-side) (A-side is “Lady Madonna“), also album track
Recorded: 12th January, 1968, also the 6th and 8th February, 1968
Studio: HMV Studios, Bombay; also at the EMI Studios, London
Genre: Indian music, raga rock
Track Duration: 2:36
Record Label: Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US)
Songwriter: George Harrison
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, JP Sen, SN Gupta
Aashish Khan: sarod
Hanuman Jadev: shehnai
Hariprasad Chaurasia: bansuri
Mahapurush Misra: pakhavaj
Rijram Desad: harmonium
uncredited: tabla tarang
The Inner Light
“In the original poem, the verse says “Without going out of my door, I can know the ways of heaven.” And so to prevent any misinterpretations – and also to make the song a bit longer – I did repeat that as a second verse but made it: “Without going out of your door / You can know all things on earth / Without looking out of your window / You can know the ways of heaven” – so that it included everybody.”
I, Me, Mine
“The Inner Light” is the only Beatles’ studio recording that comes from outside Europe. Harrison also added new instruments to the the band’s sound such as the sarod, the shehnai and the pakhavaj.
On the 12th January, 1968, at the HMV Studios in Bombay, India, George Harrison began recording the instrumental track. Using some of India’s best classical players, they recorded five takes.
Harrison was in India at the time because he was working on his first solo album, “Wonderwall Music”. This was the soundtrack to a Joe Massot film, “Wonderwall”.
Massot approached Harrison to do the soundtrack after he met The Beatles during the filming of the movie, Help! Harrison was a bit reluctant because he had never done anything like this before. However, Massot assured Harrison that he would use anything he produced.
George Harrison was keen to further promote Indian music which he had previously done on other recordings like “Love You To” and “Within You Without You“, so he took the job. With his new artistic freedom, Harrison created much Indian music mixed together with pieces of rock and other Western musical styles. Just to point out that Harrison only directed the musicians and never played any instruments whatsoever.
Harrison added his lead vocal on “The Inner Light” at the EMI Studios, London on the 6th. Then, on the 8th of February, 1968 John Lennon and Paul McCartney added the backing vocals.
Being the B-side of a hugely successful single, “Lady Madonna”, “The Inner Light” got much exposure. Of course, the single itself got to number one in numerous countries including the UK.