Being Right

ACCIDENTS, or simply the unexpected, are not necessarily bad. Think penicillin. Or x-rays. Things created or existing because of mistakes or happenstance. Sometimes, one can get a pretty nifty song out of it too.
So it was that one April in 1966, the Beatles just finished a full day’s recording (you might say, a hard day’s night — sorry) and John Lennon asked one of the recording engineers to give him a copy to work on at home. USB’s obviously weren’t a thing in those days and so he was given a spool of tape, with a bit sticking out, called a “tail.” The tail was what you took hold off when spooling it off a tape player. John mistakenly thought the tail was where the record started, when actually it was at the end, and so resulted in the tape being played backwards.
John, of course, got excited over the sound that was coming out.
He initially wanted the entire song to be recorded backwards, of which he was thankfully talked out of it by the Beatles’ legendary producer George Martin. John, however, was able to persuade the group to have bits of George Harrison’s guitar riffs played in reverse, which they did, along with a verse of John singing backwards for the fadeout.
Rain, I don’t mind
Shine, the weather’s fine
What people remember about the song is its languidness. Nobody uses the word “cool” anymore but the song is cool, from John’s vocals to the instrumentals.
It starts off with Ringo’s steady patter: you can actually imagine the hard fall of the raindrops on the roof and that beat will constantly be there even though the electric guitars and Paul’s bass will eventually take over and dominate the sound.
Wiki describes the song technically this way: “a simple musical structure. Set in the key of G major (the final mix pitches it about a quarter of a semitone below this, while the backing track was taped in G sharp), it begins with what Alan W. Pollack calls, “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).”
Ringo considers this recording as perhaps his best drum work ever. Perhaps he’s right, although many would proffer “Ticket to Ride” and “Come Together” as other worthy candidates.
If the rain comes
They run and hide their heads
They might as well be dead
The song is billed a collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the latter certainly insisting it was. However, the grim characterization of the fearful people being “dead” popularly marked this out as a John song, along with its “I-don’t-give-a-damn” vibe.
John is the preacher here, as he certainly often was, and he doesn’t bother to hide his frustration at people being dense to the message.
When the sun shines
They slip into the shade
And sip their lemonade
When the sun shines
When the sun shines
The song — ostensibly about the weather — was about people and how they react to the circumstances that life brings, which is usually to complain about it. Complaining of every little thing. The big things. Although the point was everything was a little thing.
Even the good times can be a cause for alarm for these people, what with the sun finally coming out and their reaction is to hide from it.
It was also a reflection of the Beatle’s then dabbling in eastern philosophy, what with the imagery of “sun” and “rain” as the contrasts in life’s circumstances but eventually all being one and the same.
Frankly, the Beatle’s need not have gone far — St. Augustine said the same thing, perhaps equally or more poetically: “Bad times, hard times — this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.”
Can you hear me
That when it rains and shines
It’s just a state of mind
Can you hear me
Can you hear me
The mindblowing thing about this song is that, despite it being obviously one of rock and roll’s greatest, despite the clear innovation and influence it had on all of music, it was just the B-side to Paperback Writer!
And 1966 also had the following: “Sounds of Silence,” “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” “Winchester Cathedral,” “We Can Work It Out” and “Paperback Writer,” “Wild Thing,” “When A Man Loves A Woman,” “Paint It Black,” “Strangers In The Night,” and “I’m A Believer.”
Rain, I don’t mind
Shine, the weather’s fine
I can show you
That when it starts to rain
Everything’s the same.
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.
Twitter @jemygatdula