One Song/Three Versions – Beware of Darkness.

Part of an occasional series wherein I post an original song and two covers. If I can find them I usually post alternates that take the song somewhere else. Fellow blogger Christian did a post a while back and noted Sheryl Crow’s fine version if you want to check that out. And Joe Cocker does a nice job with it.ย 

I posted about George Harrison’s great artistic triumph All Things Must Pass a while back: “From the 1971ย Rolling Stoneย review: โ€œIt is both an intensely personal statement and a grandiose gesture, a triumph over artistic modesty, even frustration. In this extravaganza of piety and sacrifice and joy, whose sheer magnitude and ambition may dub it theย War and Peace of rock and roll, the music itself is no longer the only message.ย The lyrics are central.โ€”

I posted a couple of tunes but one of them I did not post was “Beware of Darkness.” Wikipedia: “The song marks a return to the spiritual concerns of Harrison’s songs with The Beatles. The lyrics reflect the philosophy of the Radha Krishna Temple, with which Harrison was involved, in which spiritual concerns must always override material things.

In the verses, the listener is warned against various influences that may corrupt them. Among the potentially corrupting influences are con men (“soft shoe shufflers”), politicians (“greedy leaders”), and pop idols of little substance (“falling swingers”).

In addition, the lyrics warn against negative thoughts (“thoughts that linger”), since these corrupting influences and negative thoughts can lead toย Maya, or illusion, which distracts people from the true purpose of life.”

That is some heavy shit and a long way from “Don’t Bother Me.” Let’s give it a listen, shall we?:

Spotify link

Leon Russell shuffled off this mortal coil about four years ago. I don’t know why but for some reason I always associate this song with him. You can read more about him in my post.

His version of “Darkness” comes from his second solo album, Leon Russell and the Shelter People. I note with some interest that Eric Clapton plays on both Harrison and Russell’s albums. And to come full circle, Harrison and Rusell performed this song together at George’s 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh:

Spotify link

Okay, let’s hear this tune from a woman. And who better than the fabulous Ann Wilson? This version was recorded at a 2014 event called George Fest – A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison.ย 

Performers included Brian Wilson and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys, George’s son Dhani, Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, Conan O’Brien, Spoon’s Britt Daniel, and Brandon Flowers of the Killers.

Spotify link

17 thoughts on “One Song/Three Versions – Beware of Darkness.

  1. Very timely song, and a great one. Thanks!

    They are all great versions, each having its own take, and I have to give Harrison the nod. He sure could create some wonderful, thoughtful music. I listened to Sheryl Crowโ€™s as well, and Clapton was involved in that one too. I think this song must continue to connect him with Harrison.

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    1. Yes, Eric and George were great mates and George reached a spiritual level that I don’t think the other buys ever did. It IS a timely song. You’ll be amused to know that I heard the Cocker version over a hotel speaker, thought it was Bowie, decided to do this post. And then poor Joe never made it as I wanted to play Ann Wilson’s version.

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      1. Yes, blog ideas get triggered by all sorts of things & itโ€™s all fair game! Re your other comment on a dystopian themed post, Iโ€™d say go for it. Itโ€™s our warped sense of dark humour thatโ€™ll get us through the Brave New 1984 Animal Farm Tour relatively unscathed.

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        1. Hmmm, ’twas me that replied. Wonder why it was Anonymous…I thought I had logged in properly. Perhaps the topic was too dangerous?!?!

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  2. I’ve heard the first two is passing. I’m starting to dig Leon more these days than I did back when. Just watched a thing with Costello who mentioned “staying away from all the stuff out there” “Drive you mad”. same vibe here. “Pretty much anything you do that adds to the solution rather than adds to the problem is the right thing to do as you know.You don’t need me to tell you that” EC’s words. same track as George.

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    1. Bad Moon Rising oui there. Would it be too depressing do you think to do a list of apocalyptic songs? Or dystopian ones? “I love the smell of napalm in the morning when it’s 1984.”

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      1. Listening to the Costello bit was refreshing. He did if from his house. Talked mostly music(which I like). He had an interesting Chet Baker story. Of course he touched on your fave band (Fab 4). He made to much sense to be covered by the media. I think him an Harrison were cut from the same cloth. Nice men. Costello talked about past F ups. He owns them with no excuses. How refreshing is that. How about a nice sleazy one like ‘Politician” for the times.

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  3. Great tune and thanks for the shout-out. While I figured Sheryl Crow’s cover must have appeared on on her final studio album “Threads”, I had to click on the hyperlink to check my own previous post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Leon Russell really made it his own, which is cool. And Ann Wilson just is an amazing vocalist!

    I had not known the Cocker version. But he was a true master of the cover. To me “With the Little Help From My Friends” still remains the greatest rock cover I’ve heard to date. I also like Cocker’s versions of “She Came Into the Bathroom Window” and “I’ll Cry Instead.”

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    1. Ha! I know your blog better than you know your blog. I mentioned in another comment that I heard Cocker over a hotel speaker and I thought it was Bowie! Yes, he is to covers what you are to tribute bands.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I still like the original by George Harrison best. But chemistry is everything. Especially in the musical field. Just listen to Sheryl Crow’s version. It’s more withdrawn than the original. Feeling instead of passion, but the cover is anything than weak. Only Brandi Carlile, who sings the second verse, doesn’t really come into her own in her peculiarity. Clapton’s guitar is a little more delicate and reserved than in the original and Sting plays his bass great. I think this is a respectful bow to George Harrion.

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    1. I like George’s best as well. It’s hard to improve upon it. I was going to post Shery CRow’s version until it dawned on me that Christian had done that. So, I managed to sneark four versions in.

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  5. Man this song…. it’s just one of my all time favourites and my go-to when things are feeling grim. Usually followed by the Pyhons’ ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’.There’s some pretty decent stabs at it out there including those you’ve mentioned – notably though it’s one Jim James didn’t attempt on his GH tribute album Tribute To – but nothing can really beat George’s version for me though.

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