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Rain

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The original US 45 sleeve for

The original US 45 sleeve for "Rain"

source: parenthetical.blog-city.com

Rain

Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: April 14, 1966; April 16, 1966 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: April 16, 1966, December 2, 1969
Length: 2:58
Takes: 8
Musicians: John Lennon: lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1964 Gretsch 6120 "Nashville")
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)
George Harrison: harmony vocals, lead guitar (1962 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Standard)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), tambourine
First released: May 30, 1966 (US: Capitol 5651), June 10, 1966 (UK: Parlophone R5452); b-side of "Paperback Writer"
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • Hey Jude, (US: Apple SW 385, UK: Parlophone PCS 7184)
  • Past Masters Volume Two, (Parlophone CDP 7 90044 2)
Highest chart position: US: 23 (June 11, 1966), UK: 1 (two weeks beginning June 23, 1966 as a double a-side with "Paperback Writer")
History:
  • One of the most acclaimed Beatles "b-sides" ever (although it was never designated as such on the original Capitol and Parlophone 45 rpm singles), this John-written number marks, like its a-side, a significant change in direction for the group. "Rain" can arguably be called the first psychedelic song released by the group; it contains lyrics that are philosophical and anti-establishment, and features sonic techniques the band would utilize in many of their later recordings.
  • This song was said to have been written by John after observing the hurried way pedestrians move out of the way of raindrops. The metaphor, on the other hand, can be understood to be about most folks' reluctance to lead a nonconformist lifestyle. Present for the first time, too, is Lennon's characteristic messiah complex ("I can show you" is repeated in the final verse).
  • Recording on "Rain" began at the same session as "Paperback Writer" on April 14, 1966, and overdubbed two days later on the 14th. The song utilizes the same instruments and recording techniques as its a-side.
  • The outro of "Rain" layers on a backwards track featuring the vocals from earlier in the song: first comes John singing "Sunshine," then "Rain," and then the first line of the song ("If the rain comes they run and hide their heads"). This suggests that the backwards tracks were spliced together from several different parts of the song to get the optimum effect. Lennon got the idea to do this on April 14, 1966, after listening to take 5 at home on his own tape machine. Accidentally threading it backwards, tired and stoned, he realized it made an interesting, otherwordly sound.
  • Despite some claims to the contrary, it is the first Beatles song recorded and released to use this effect -- although "Tomorrow Never Knows," which was begun eight days earlier, features a backwards guitar solo, that track was actually added on April 22, eight days after completion of "Rain." (The other song from the Revolver sessions to feature a backwards solo, "I'm Only Sleeping," was not completed until May 6.) Producer George Martin has claimed that since "Tomorrow Never Knows" found the band experimenting with tape loops -- which he claimed as his original idea -- that John accidentally listened to that song backwards first. Other sources claim that Lennon wanted to record "Rain" completely backwards until Martin talked him out of the idea.
  • "Rain" is not the very first recording to feature "backmasking," but it is the first to incorporate backwards music into a mix.
  • The song's other sonic innovation came from Paul, who suggested slowing the entire backing track down to give the song a droning, "Indian" effect. While the recording is in the key of G, the actual song was played in A; John's vocal, on the other hand, was intentionally recorded even slower than the final track and sped up to achieve further disorientation. (The backing vocals, added later, appear to have been recorded as is in the studio.)
Trivia:
  • Ringo Starr has been very vocal about claiming this as his best drum work on any Beatles track. Indeed, his drumming is a model of precision and experimentation, intentionally veering off and on the beat while adding several prominent, almost chaotic flourishes and fills. This marked the first time Ringo began a fill by hitting the hi-hat cymbal, instead of the snare that most drummers would have gone to first.
  • The promo video for this song (aired on Ed Sullivan and other outlets) has been used by Paul Is Dead fans as "evidence" of the coverup. The injuries suffered by McCartney in a moped accident on December 26, 1965 are still visible in the video, most notably Paul's chipped tooth. PID theorists sometimes use the accident and its aftermath in embroidering the rumor, although most trace Paul's "death" to a car accident he was involved in on January 7, 1967.
  • The British rock group Oasis liked this song so much they originally named their band The Rain.
Covered by: Greg Allman, Bim Skala Bim, Bongwater, Randy California, Petula Clark, Fairport Convention, Dan Fogelberg, The Georgia Satellites, The Grateful Dead, Ed Harcourt, Humble Pie, The Jam, Mary McCaslin, Noel Redding, Of Montreal, Robyn Hitchcock, Todd Rundgren, Shonen Knife, U2

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