- Rain (The Beatles song)
Caption =U.S. single sleeve
B-sideto " Paperback Writer"
Released =30 May 1966 (U.S.)
10 June 1966 (UK)
Abbey Road Studios14 April 1966
Capitol 5651 (U.S.)
George Martin"Rain" is a song by the British rock band The Beatles, credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was first released in June 1966 as the B-sideof the " Paperback Writer" single. cite web|url=http://www.stevesbeatles.com/songs/rain.asp|title=Steve's Beatles Page: Rain|last=Hamel|first=Stephen|publisher=Stephen Hamel|accessdate=2008-03-03] Both songs were recorded during the sessions for "Revolver" but neither appears on that album.
Written primarily by
John Lennon, "Rain" has been called The Beatles' finest B-side, especially notable for its heavy sonic presence and backwards vocals, both of which were a hint of things to come on "Revolver", released two months later.Sheff (2000), p197.] Lewisohn (1988), p74.] MacDonald (2005), p196.]
A promotional film was made for the song "Rain", starring the Beatles. This video, along with other Beatles videos at the time, sparked George Harrison to say during the "
Beatles Anthology", "So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV." "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Episode 5 “Rain” - 0:53:19) Harrison talking about inventing MTV.]
The inspiration for "Rain" is agreed on by
Neil Aspinall, the Beatles' roadie, and John Lennon. They both described the band's arrival in Australia, marked by rain and poor weather.Beatles (2000), p140] Lennon said, "I've never seen rain as hard as that, except in Tahiti", and later explained that "Rain" was "about people moaning about the weather all the time".Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Ringo (2000), p212.]
Recording began on 14 April 1966, in the same session as "Paperback Writer", and concluded on 16 April, with a series of
overdubsbefore mixing on the same day.cite web |first=Robert |last=Fontenot |url=http://oldies.about.com/od/thebeatlessongs/a/rain.htm |title=The history of this classic Beatles song |publisher= The New York Times Company|accessdate=2008-03-05] At that time, The Beatles were enthused about experimenting in the studio to achieve new sounds and effects.Lewisohn (1988), p70.] These experiments were showcased in their influential seventh album, "Revolver". Geoff Emerick, who was the engineer for both sessions, described one technique he used to alter the sonic texture of the track by recording the backing track "faster than normal." After playing the tape normally, "the music had a radically different tonal quality.Emerick (2006), p117] A similar technique was used to alter the tone of Lennon's lead vocal. It was recorded with the tape machine being slowed down, so making Lennon's voice sound higher when played back at normal speed.Lewisohn (1988), p83.] The last verse of "Rain" includes backwards vocals, which was one of the first uses of this technique on a record. ”The Beatles Anthology” DVD 2003 (Episode 5 “Rain” - 0:55:48) Lennon talking about the first reverse vocal ever recorded.] cite web |url=http://wm10.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=33:wjfuxqwrldfe |title=Song Review of Rain |last=Unterberger |first=Richie |authorlink=Richie Unterberger |publisher= Allmusic|accessdate=2007-12-22] The backwards vocals are Lennon singing the first lyrics of the song: "When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads."cite web |url=http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=100 |title=Rain by the Beatles |accessdate=2008-03-01] Both Lennon and producer George Martinhave claimed credit for the idea; Lennon said: cquote|After we'd done the session on that particular song—it ended at about four or five in the morning—I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that's how it happened.cite web |url=http://www.geocities.com/~beatleboy1/dba07revol.html |publisher=The Beatles Interview Database |title=Rain |accessdate=2007-12-22]
Emerick confirms Lennon's creative accident, but Martin remembers it differently:cquote|I was always playing around with tapes and I thought it might be fun to do something extra with John's voice. So I lifted a bit of his main vocal off the four-track, put it on another spool, turned it around and then slid it back and forth until it fitted. John was out at the time but when he came back he was amazed.
The "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single was the first release to use a new device invented by the maintenance department at Abbey Road called "ATOC" for "Automatic Transient Overload Control". The new device allowed the record to be cut at a louder volume, louder than any other single up to that time.Emerick (2006), p117.] On the final mix of the single, Lennon was on
lead vocaland rhythm guitar(1964 Gretsch 6120 "Nashville"). Paul McCartneywas on backing vocal as well as bass guitar(1964 Rickenbacker 4001S). George Harrisonwas on backing vocal and lead guitar(1962 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Standard). Finally, Ringo Starrplayed drums ( Ludwig) and tambourine.
While technologically elaborate, "Rain" has a simple musical structure. Set in the key of
G major, it begins with what Alan W. Pollackcalls, "a ra-ta-tat half-measure's fanfare of solo snare drums", followed by a guitar intro of the first chord. The verses are nine measures long, and the song is in 4/4 time. Each verse is based on the G, C, and D chords (I, IV, and V). The refrain contains only I and IV chords, and is twelve measures long (the repetition of a six-measure pattern). The first two measures are the G chord. The third and fourth measures are the C chord, with the third measure in 6/4 time instead of the regular 4/4 time. The fifth and sixth measures return to the G chord. The refrain, though seemingly slower than the verse, is at the same tempo. Pollack says this illusion is achieved by "the change of beat for the first four measures from its erstwhile bounce to something more plodding and regular". After four verses and two refrains, a short solo for guitar and drums is played, with complete silence for one beat. What is heard next is what Pollack calls "historically significant" reverse lyrics.cite web|url=http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/pw_and_r.shtml#q2|title=Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Paperback Writer" and "Rain"|last=Pollack|first=Alan W.|accessdate=2008-03-01]
It was released as a B-side to "Paperback Writer" in the United States (Capitol 5651) on 30 May 1966, and in the UK on 10 June 1966 (Parlophone R5452). It later appeared on the compilations "Hey Jude" in the U.S. and "Rarities" in the UK. It also appeared on the "
Past Masters Volume Two" CD (Parlophone CDP 7 90044 2).
The Beatles created a promotional film for "Rain", which is considered one of the early precursors of
music videos.cite web |first= |last= |url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3404611 |title=The Beatles and the Birth of the Music Video |publisher= BBC|accessdate=2008-03-01] The film was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg—who had worked with them before on the pop 1960 televisionprogram " Ready Steady Go!"Miles (1998).] —and features The Beatles walking and singing in a garden and a greenhouse, and performing on a soundstage.cite video |people=The Beatles |title=The Beatles Anthology, DVD #3, "Rain" |medium=DVD |publisher=Apple Corps Limited |date = 2003] The video was filmed at Chiswick Housein London.cite web |url= http://www.ready-steady-go.org.uk/beatles_tv.htm|title="The Beatles Rain Video |accessdate=2008-02-27] McCartney was injured in a mopedaccident on 26 December 1965, and closeups in the film reveal a scarred lip and a chipped tooth. McCartney's appearance in the film played a role in the " Paul is dead" rumors from 1969. cite web |url=http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:hJ2WpDnRaksJ:www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/faqs/pid.html+Rain+Paul+is+Dead&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us&client=firefox-a|title=Paul is Dead??|first=Saki|publisher=Rec.Music.Beatles |accessdate=2008-03-01]
Its highest chart positions was #23 in the U.S. (11 June 1966) and #1 in the UK (for two weeks starting on 23 June 1966). It is one of the Beatles's most critically-acclaimed songs, appearing on a number of best-of lists, including "Rolling Stone" magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" (#463).cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs/page/5 |title=The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time |publisher=
Rolling Stone|accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2004-12-09] AcclaimedMusic.net, a site which combines hundreds of such lists from around the world, ranks "Rain" at #557 on the Top 3000 Songs, the 22nd highest-rated Beatle song on the site. [cite web |url=http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/1966s.htm |title=Top 3000 Songs: The Top Songs from 1966 |publisher= Acclaimed Music|accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2007-07-31] cite web |url=http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/The%20Beatles.htm |title=Top Artists: The Beatles |publisher= Acclaimed Music|accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2007-07-31]
Notable in "Rain" is
Ringo Starr's drumming, which Starr himself rates as his best performance.Miles (1997), p280.] Critics agreed; both Ian MacDonaldand " Rolling Stone" said his drumming was "superb," and Richie Unterbergerof Allmusicpraised his "creative drum breaks."MacDonald (2005), p198.] cite web |url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6596308/rain |title=Rain |publisher= Rolling Stone|accessdate=2007-12-22 |date=2004-12-09]
"Rain" has been covered numerous times since its release as a single, including by Ibex, Humble Pie, Shonen Knife, *
The Punklesand The Allman Brothers. The Grateful Deadperformed the song numerous times throughout the 1990s; often as an encore. Australian band The Church played the song at MTV Unplugged, with Marty Willson-Pipersharing vocals with Jules Shear. British band Kula Shakercovered the song live at Reading Festivalin 1996. U2and Todd Rundgrenhave also covered the song.
* [http://www.reasontorock.com/tracks/rain.html "Reason to Rock" review]
* [http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/pw_and_r.shtml#q2 Alan W. Pollack's Notes On Rain]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A3404611 "The Beatles and the Birth of the Music Video"]
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