Uploaded on Sep 23, 2009
"Rain" is a song by the English rock band The Beatles, credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was first released in June 1966 as the B-side of the "Paperback Writer" single. 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.
Three promotional films were made for the song "Rain", starring the Beatles. These videos, 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 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. 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".
Recording began on 14 April 1966, in the same session as "Paperback Writer", and concluded on 16 April, with a series of overdubs before mixing on the same day. At that time, The Beatles were enthused about experimenting in the studio to achieve new sounds and effects. 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. 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. The last verse of "Rain" includes backwards vocals, which was one of the first uses of this technique on a record. The backwards vocals are Lennon singing the first lyrics of the song: "If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads." Both Lennon and producer George Martin have claimed credit for the idea; Lennon said:
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.
Emerick confirms Lennon's creative accident, but Martin remembers it differently:
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. On the final mix of the single, Lennon was on lead vocal and rhythm guitar (1964 Gretsch 6120 "Nashville"). Paul McCartney was on backing vocal as well as bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S). George Harrison was on backing vocal and lead guitar (1962 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Standard). Finally, Ringo Starr played drums (Ludwig) and tambourine.
John Lennon: double tracked lead vocal and rhythm guitar.
Paul McCartney: bass and backing vocal.
George Harrison: lead guitar and backing vocal.
Ringo Starr: drums and tambourine.