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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 98
Tues. May 7, 2013

“The Inner Light”
The Beatles

1968

“♫ Without
going out
of my door

[…] I can
know the
ways of
heaven
♫”

Two very happy memories remind me of my favorite George Harrison penned B-Side: “The Inner Light.” I remember when I was seven years old, my older brother spent a summer with our relatives in South America and when he came back he brought me an imported cassette version of The Beatles’ Rarities. “The Inner Light” reminds me of my brother. I always thought he never really wanted to know me. Looking back, today, we never were really close but that summer when he gave me “The Inner Light” it meant a lot; it was his way of telling me, I know what you love.

Unbeknownst to me, in his magnificent autobiography, I Me Mine, Harrison admitted that “Within You, Without You” inspired “The Inner Light.” There was a Sanskrit teacher, Jose Mascaró from Cambridge University that wrote him a letter telling George how much “Within You, Without You” meant to him. With this letter, Mascaró sent Harrison a book, and George talked about this gift inspired the making of “The Inner Light” when he wrote, “He also sent me a copy of Lamps of Fire and in his letter h says ‘…might it not be interesting to put into your music a few words from Tao, for example number 48, page 66 of the book.’ And that’s where the words to “The Inner Light” come from; it’s a translation from the Tao Te Ching.”

It’s amazing how a teacher from Cambridge University sent the book that inspired “The Inner Light.” Harrison described the passage he translated from Tao Te Ching when he wrote, “In the original poem, the verse saysWithout going out of my door, I can know the ways of Heaven. And so to prevent any misinterpretations—I did repeat that as a second verse […] so that it included everybody.”

Last night I experienced a moment that brought Harrison’s lyrics and the translated Tao Te Ching words to life. It was a moment of transcendence that moved me and made me realize some truths I kept hidden from myself but most of it brought me back to The Beatles’ Rarities cassette my brother had given me. Birthed from a poem, “The Inner Light,” and one thing is true is that you don’t have to open your door to experience the illumination of heaven.

While I am still trying to take in all the events of last night, I cannot promise you any lyrical miracles. But if you open yourself to the meaning of George’s most eloquent message it will definitely bring some peace and clarity if only in this guise of a sixties pop song. To me this beautiful Tao Te Ching inspired classic is more than just another George Harrison penned Beatles B-side; The lyrics and rhythms of “The Inner Light” mirrored my reflective experience that I will not soon forget.

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