Here Comes the Sun

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This article is about the song by the Beatles. For other uses, see Here Comes the Sun (disambiguation).
"Here Comes the Sun"
Song by The Beatles from the album Abbey Road
Released 26 September 1969 (album)
Recorded 7 July – 19 August 1969
Genre Folk rock, pop rock
Length 3:05
Label Apple
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Martin


Music sample
Abbey Road track listing

"Here Comes the Sun" is a song written by George Harrison from the Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road.

Composition[edit]

"Here Comes the Sun" is one of Harrison's best-known Beatles contributions alongside "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The year 1969 was difficult for Harrison: he had quit the band temporarily, he was arrested for marijuana possession, and he had his tonsils removed.

Harrison stated in his autobiography, I, Me, Mine:

"Here Comes the Sun" was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that.' Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote "Here Comes the Sun."[1]

As Clapton states in his autobiography, the house in question is known as "Hurtwood." When interviewed in the Martin Scorsese documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Clapton said he believed the month was April. Data from two meteorological stations in the London area show that April 1969 set a record for sunlight hours for the 1960s. The Greenwich station recorded 189 hours for April, a high that was not beaten until 1984. The Greenwich data also shows that February and March were much colder than the norm for the 1960s, which would account for Harrison's reference to a "long, cold, lonely winter."[2]

Musical structure[edit]

The song is in the key of A Major. The refrain uses a IV (D chord) to V-of-V (B chord) progression (the reverse of that used in "Eight Days a Week" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band").[3] The melody in the verse and refrain basically follows the pentatonic scale from E up to C (scale steps 5, 6, 1, 2, 3).[3]

One feature is the increasing syncopation in the vocal parts.[4] Another feature is the guitar flat-picking that embellishes the E7 (V7) chord from 2:03 to 2:11, creating tension for resolution on the tonic A chord at "Little darlin' ".[5] The bridge involves a III-VII-IV-I-V7 triple descending 4th (or Tri-Plagal) progression (with an extra V7) as the vocals move from "Sun" (III or C chord) to "sun" (VII or G chord) to "sun" (IV or D chord) to "comes" (I or A chord) and the additional 4th descent to a V7 (E7) chord.[6] The lyric here ("Sun, sun, sun, here it comes") has been described as taking "on the quality of a meditator's mantra".[7] The song also features extreme 4/4 (in the verse) and a sequence of 11/8 + 4/4 + 7/8 (can also be transcribed as 11/8 + 15/8) in the bridge, phrasing interludes which Harrison drew from Indian music influences.[3][8] In the second verse (0:59–1:13) the Moog synthesizer doubles the solo guitar line and in the third verse the Moog adds an obligato line an octave above.[4] The last four bars (2:54–3:04) juxtapose the guitar break with a repeat of the bridge.[4]

Recording[edit]

Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr recorded the rhythm track in 13 takes on 7 July 1969. John Lennon did not contribute to the song as he was recovering from a car crash.[9] Towards the end of the session Harrison spent an hour re-recording his acoustic guitar part. He capoed his guitar on the 7th fret, resulting in the final key of A major (in fact, slightly above A major due to the track being varispeeded by less than a semitone). He also used the same technique on his 1965 song "If I Needed Someone", which shares a similar melodic pattern. The following day he taped his lead vocals, and he and McCartney recorded their backing vocals twice to give a fuller sound.[4]

A harmonium and handclaps were added on 16 July. Harrison added an electric guitar run through a Leslie speaker on 6 August, and the orchestral parts (George Martin's score for two piccolos, two flutes, two alto flutes and two clarinets) were added on 15 August. "Here Comes the Sun" was completed four days later with the addition of Harrison's Moog synthesizer part.[10]

The master tapes reveal that Harrison recorded a guitar solo that was not included in the final mix.[11]

Voyager proposal[edit]

Astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan wrote in his book Murmurs of Earth that he had wanted the song to be included on the Voyager Golden Record. Copies of the Voyager Golden Record were attached to both spacecrafts of the Voyager program in order to provide any entity that recovered them a representative sample of human civilization. According to Sagan, the Beatles favored the idea but they "did not own the copyright, and the legal status of the piece seemed too murky to risk." So, when the probes were launched in 1977 the song was not included. [12]

Personnel[edit]

Orchestra
Personnel per Ian MacDonald[9]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by Peter Tosh in 1970 and released as a single, though was not widely available until its inclusion on Can't Blame the Youth in 2004. In 1971, Harrison performed the song during The Concert for Bangladesh. American folk singer Richie Havens saw his 1971 version reach number 16 in the US.[13]

The most successful UK cover was by Steve Harley, who reached number 10 with the song in 1976.[14] On their 1994 debut album, Who Is, This Is?, ska-punk band Voodoo Glow Skulls recorded a version of the song.[15] We Five released a version on their 1970 album, Catch the Wind.[16] Nina Simone recorded "Here Comes the Sun" as the title track to her 1971 cover album.[17]

Linda Eder released a version of Here Comes the Sun in 2002 on her 'Gold' album.

Naya Rivera and Demi Lovato performed the song, as Santana Lopez and Dani respectively, in Glee's fifth season episode "Tina in the Sky with Diamonds". Their duet version appears on the album Glee Sings the Beatles. Writing for MTV, Jocelyn Vena commented that the two singers sang "in perfect harmony over a plucky guitar."[18] Idolator also pointed out "their beautiful harmonies" as highlight.[19]

Swedish Heavy Metal band Ghost released a version of the song as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of their 2010 album Opus Eponymous.

In 1980, on their album Flaming Schoolgirls, the Runaways recorded "Here Comes The Sun".

Charts[edit]

While The Beatles never released "Here Comes the Sun" as a single (thus preventing it from entering the charts), new rules that were implemented to the UK Singles Chart in 2007 allowed any song (with or without a physical equivalent) to enter the charts based on download sales. This allowed several songs recorded by the Beatles to list on the charts when their back catalog became available for download on iTunes in 2010, including "Here Comes the Sun," which peaked at No. 58 on 27 November 2010.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Harrison, George. I Me Mine (1980) p. 144
  2. ^ Rowley, David. All Together Now, the ABC of the Beatles songs and albums. Troubador, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Pollack, Alan. "Notes on 'Here Comes the Sun'". Accessed 14 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Walter Everett (1999). The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver Through the Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0. p. 258.
  5. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. New York: Music Sales Limited/Omnibus Press. p.10.
  6. ^ Pedler (2003), pp. 249–250.
  7. ^ Everett (1999), p. 257
  8. ^ Pedler (2003), p.555.
  9. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 356.
  10. ^ The Beatles Bible 2008.
  11. ^ andpop.com 2012.
  12. ^ Sagan et al. 1978.
  13. ^ "Richie Havens – Chart history". Billboard charts. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Clayson, Alan, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003), p. 285.
  15. ^ "Voodoo Glow Skulls, "Who Is, This Is?"". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  16. ^ "We Five, Catch the Wind". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Here Comes the Sun - Nina Simone". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  18. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (18 September 2013). "Demi Lovato, Naya Rivera Harmonize On 'Glee' Duet". MTV. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  19. ^ Gracie, Bianca (18 September 2013). "Demi Lovato & Naya Rivera Cover The Beatles' 'Here Comes The Sun': Hear The 'Glee' Track". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]