One Perfect Song: Here Comes the Sun

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“Here Comes the Sun”
Written by George Harrison
Recorded by The Beatles
Released September 26, 1969

It’s a gray, rainy day today in Chicago. But, it is warmer today than it was yesterday, and I hope it is colder today than it will be tomorrow. The promise of spring is here, and I am thinking about “Here Comes the Sun.”

“Here Comes the Sun” is a sonic, joyous masterpiece. It has a sound that is at once sweet, inviting and optimistic. Spring is here. It is warmer outside. “That ice is slowly melting.” We are immediately part of this song because we connect to the promise of springtime, and the excitement it brings.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon were always the primary songwriters in The Beatles, but George was always given one or two slots on most of their albums. “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much” on Help! “Think for Yourself” and “If I Needed Someone” on Rubber Soul. These are some of the finest songs in the history of rock and roll music, but when they are on an album next to songs like “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” by John Lennon or “I’ve Just Seen a Face” by Paul McCartney, they are invariably going to suffer in comparison.

georgeharrison03However, Abbey Road would signal an arrival, of sorts, for Harrison. “Something” on the first side of the album, and “Here Comes The Sun” on the second side. If these were the only two songs George Harrison ever wrote and recorded, he would widely be considered one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. Frank Sinatra once famously said that “”Something” is the greatest love song of the last 50 years.” Soon, The Beatles would break up and George Harrison would release All Things Must Pass, an amazing triple album filled with classics he had been writing through the years.

Abbey Road is the last album that The Beatles recorded together, even though Let It Be was released approximately eight months later. The recording and collaboration process of Abbey Road during the spring of 1969 was particularly difficult for all members of the band. On the verge of breaking up, tensions were high in the studio, drug use was rampant, and the band was quickly falling apart. Harrison needed an escape from the negative studio atmosphere, and he found refuge at Eric Clapton’s estate. Sitting in the garden on an April afternoon after a particularly cold February and March, Harrison wrote “Here Comes The Sun” as way to welcome springtime, and to share his relief at being able to get away, if only from a little while, from the band that had become the source of so much pain, and artistic limitation.

“Here Comes The Sun” is one of those songs you have probably heard hundreds of times, so much so that when the song is on, it becomes nothing more than pleasant background noise. But find a moment…put on a pair of headphones. Really listen to this song.

Listen.

It starts with an achingly sweet melody played on an acoustic guitar (capo, 7th fret), a Moog synthesizer comes in, in harmony with the guitar, and everything is gently slowed to a pause George begins to sings the chorus to open the song.

“Here comes the sun, doot n’ do do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right”

George is joined by Ringo’s snappy snare drum and a lush string section as we are brought into the first verse.

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right.”

Who of us can’t identify?!?! The tempo picks up, driven by Paul’s impeccably fluid bass, and we feel relief. We feel peace. We feel the joy and the warmth of the sun hitting our face in the garden. Instruments continued to get layered upon another, and the celebration continues. The song ends with the simple, repetitive line “Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.” This song has become part of who we are, and a part of the way so many of us welcome the warmer days of springtime.

It’s funny to think, but before the Abbey Road album was released in 1969, the world had not yet heard “Here Comes the Sun.” Before 1969, springtime brought no such universally recognized anthem. Before 1969, anyone humming “doot ‘n do do” would be singing alone. For over 5,000 years of recorded history, nobody had ever experienced the delight of unexpectedly hearing the song played on the radio on a beautiful April afternoon. Can you imagine not knowing “Here Comes the Sun?”

“Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right.”

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It’s all right.

2 thoughts on “One Perfect Song: Here Comes the Sun

  1. The day this post came out was coincidentally the first completely sunny day in Seattle in over 6 weeks. I knew this song well, of course. But because of this post, I was able to really sit and listen to it intentionally and truly appreciate the song for what it was: a masterpiece of pop music.

    Fast forward a few hours, and I’m driving down the road, gazing out over the Puget Sound in all it’s sunshine-shimmering glory and– “Here Comes the Sun” came on the radio. Having had the experience earlier in the day, this moment in time became incredibly special. I owe sincere gratitude to Larry for providing the opportunity to truly appreciate this awe-filled moment.

    Thanks, Uncle!

    Liked by 1 person

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