If the rain comes,
They run and hide their heads;
They might as well be dead,
If the rain comes, if the rain comes...
What began life as a fairly simple little ditty about all those people who are constantly moaning about the weather (a typically British pastime) was turned into a psychedelic masterpiece as the result of an accidental discovery.
Or was it destiny?
Writer-in-chief Lennon had taken a rough cut of the backing track home 'to see what gimmicks I could add'. Monstrously stoned — 'grass and
hash', he took pains to point out — he somehow managed to load the tape reel backwards and, like anybody else in a similar "state of mind", was totally blown away by the result. 'A gift from Jah', he later reflected.
Rolling into Studio Two the following morning, he was able to triumphantly pronounce:I can show you,
I can sh-o-o-o-o-o-w y-o-o-o-o-u!
Suitably impressed, George H duly joined him in playing 'little licks', which George M subsequently inverted onto the backing. A little of the vocal was similarly reversed at the close: probably masking something along the lines of 'Paul McCartney is not long for this world...'
In fact, according to the soon-to-be-deceased, the studio experimentation on the track had actually begun some time before the 'divine revelation'; as the whole of the backing had been originally played at a faster tempo and was then slowed down to give it that supremely stoned slurry effect, the perfect backdrop for a pivotal Lennon vocal.
That spacey echo on his voice anticipated a recording style which John would continue to favour right through to Double Fantasy
. Back in '66, the vaguely eastern modulations of the "I don't mind/the weather's fine" refrain also served to make "Rain" a monsoon day before "Tomorrow Never Knows"
. A gift from Shiva, perhaps?
And, speaking of his drumming on the track, Ringo could only conclude that 'I was possessed'. Nah, man — you were just very stoned too, and didn't realise that parts of it were also recorded backwards!I can show you
That when it starts to rain,
Ev'rything's the same...
It's equally demonstrable, however, that once it was released — especially paired with "Paperback Writer"
— recording technology had been changed forever. Revolver
— and pretty much everybody else's releases that year — were drenched with that "Rain" sound. The accompanying promo-film (all
of 'em monstrously wasted) was equally significant.
'In a way, we invented MTV', said George.
Probably the most innovative and influential of all The Beatles' B-Sides.