The need for some positivity feels greater than ever so we thought we’d dive into the Far Out vaults to look back at one of the most uplifting moments in pop history. As soon as you drop the needle on side two of Abbey Road and immediately hear the blissful opening chords of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ you know you know there’s still some sunshine in the world. When George Harrison’s vocal burst through as one of the most authentic Beatles moments on the record, the song reaches a blissful state. Below, we listen to the isolated vocal track for some extra potency.
The back story of the song is a fascinating one. Despite the positivity that the song oozes, it was actually written during a dark period of George Harrison’s life, or perhaps more accurately, as a reaction to it. Following his arrest for possession of marijuana, which arrived shortly after having his tonsils removed and him quitting The Beatles briefly, the stress and negativity all got too much for the guitarist, and he needed to escape the pressure of the world for a moment or two of clarity.
After searching for calm, Harrison escaped to Eric Clapton’s peaceful Surrey retreat and began strumming away on his guitar, recently inspired to write more songs in earnest. Reflecting on the period of his life years later, he disclosed in detail 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.” Referring to the moment of the song’s origination, it seems fitting that the track is now a permanent fixture on spring playlists forevermore.
Adding: “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.'”
In the documentary The Material World, Eric Clapton elaborated on the time that George came to stay, admirably recalling: “It was one of those beautiful spring mornings. I think it was April, we were just walking around the garden with our guitars. I don’t do that, you know? This is what George brought to the situation. He was just a magical guy… we sat down at the bottom of the garden, looking gout, and the sun was shining; it was a beautiful morning, and he began to sing the opening lines (to ‘Here Comes the Sun’) and I just watched this thing come to life.”
Abbey Road was Harrison’s coming of age moment. The time when he announced himself as being a songwriter and composer of the highest calibre. With the ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Something’, two tracks that are both widely regarded as sitting at the top table of The Beatles’ work, Harrison finally sat alongside John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the main songwriting table.
Harrison’s close friend and fellow member of Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty, summarised the song in Rolling Stone better than anyone else ever could, saying: “No piece of music can make you feel better than this. It’s such an optimistic song, with that little bit of ache in it that makes the happiness mean even more.” It makes the track the perfect antidote for another lockdown in 2021.
The ache which Petty talks is amplified in the isolated vocal version but so is the happiness that he also mentions—an aspect which shines through into Harrison’s vocal performance. It is a joyous listen and, as you can hear from his voice, it feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders and you can’t help but raise a smile during the song.
Listen to the isolated vocal version, below and see how long you can last without smiling.