The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ is George Harrison’s magnum opus. It saw him step out of the shadows and firmly into the spotlight when he took the reigns on this masterpiece.
Harrison rightly gets the most credit for the blissful beauty, however, as this version of the track which isolates all four members of the band’s parts one-by-one, they all brought their A-game for the recording sessions.
The clip below isolates each member of the band’s input on the song and with it, we’re allowed a brief deconstruction of one of The Beatles greatest ever songs. While so much acclaim is lauded on the band’s principal songwriters, the video below offers up a crystalline image of the band’s parts working together as one.
Appropriately starting with Ringo Starr, who is regarded as the glue that allows for the other three members to show off their abundance of flair, the clip highlights how his own unique style was a constantly evolving beast. Starr liked to keep things relatively simple behind the kit, often using his shoulder to get that canny Beatles swing. It led to people assuming that he wasn’t a very talented drummer, something that couldn’t be further from the truth. As the clip shows, he had just mastered the art of simplicity.
Starr’s contribution to The Beatles is often overlooked which wasn’t helped by the infamous John Lennon quote: “Ringo wasn’t the best drummer in the world… Let’s face it, he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles”. This quote coupled with his tendency to not show off means people often don’t realise the significance of Ringo to The Fab Four’s success. Thanks to his calm head steadying the ship and keeping everything tightly woven together, he provided an ample backdrop for the band’s more prominent expressionists.
McCartney’s bass work complements Starr’s fills magnificently as it allows for him to build upon the drummer’s solid foundations. With Macca taking a backseat on this one lyrically, he instead focused on putting in a nuanced bass performance that is subtle but still masterful. It’s some of his best work.
George Harrison, of course, is the steals the show on this track with his euphoric opening chords to ‘Here Comes The Sun’. It is perhaps one of the most stunning starts to any song which immediately uplifts the listener into a brighter place.
Abbey Road was Harrison’s coming of age moment as he announced himself as being a songwriter and composer of the highest calibre with ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Something’, which dispelled the myth that The Beatles’ success was all down to Lennon and McCartney. It followed a tumultuous year of tension following The White Album which saw Harrison put his first tracks down and later demand an equal share of songwriting. It would be a contributing factor to the band’s demise.
In the second verse Harrison also forward-thinkingly uses the Moog synthesizer which doubles the solo guitar line and in the third verse, he then adds the Moog to provide a counter-melody at an octave above. It’s a mark of Harrison’s growth as a songwriter and perhaps a mark as to why he should have got that equal billing after all.
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.”
The song was written at a turbulent time in Harrison’s life following him quitting The Beatles and retreating to Eric Clapton’s peaceful Surrey retreat. 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.”
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.’”
You can hear in Harrison’s stellar vocal performance how he feels like all his stresses and worries have disappeared which give the song another layer of meaning which makes the song one of The Beatles finest pieces of work despite John Lennon not featuring on the song in any capacity.
Listen to the deconstructed version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ below.