The Beatles


Song Review by

"Rain," the B-side of "Paperback Writer," was like its companion a sonic groundbreaker for the Beatles, although lacking the kind of melodic hooks that made the A-side a number one tune. The tempo seemed almost deliberately sluggish, just this side of a dirge, while the guitar textures seemed deliberately blurry. John Lennon delivered the sing-melody with a laconic nonchalance, although (as on "Paperback Writer") the Beatles sang high counterpoint harmonies that recalled the Beach Boys and greatly enhanced the attractiveness of the tune. In hindsight -- and maybe even at the time, for those in the know -- this apparent out-of-focus sluggishness seemed motivated by the hallucinogenic drug experience, with changes in sensory input and perception resulting in altered states and temporal elasticity. Whether the attempt to reflect that experience in song was intentional or not, the track's hazy textures were certainly successful in doing so. The Beatles had only just recently (with "Nowhere Man," "Paperback Writer," and perhaps "The Word") begun to write songs that dove into subjects that had nothing to do with man-woman relationships. "Rain" was their first effort (again with the possible exception of "The Word") in which the words were not just about different subjects, but downright enigmatic. On the surface, it was a very English observational song, to the point of banality in some respects, about being in the rain and people sipping their lemonade. On a deeper level, it could be heard as an embrace of the drug experience, or of any experience in general that wallowed in sensation and reverie. Certainly the Beatles don't seem to mind getting wet, as the chorus emphasizes: rain (or sunshine for that matter), they don't mind, the weather always seems to be fine. Words aside, the instrumental track featured some very imaginative touches, particularly McCartney's bulging bass and Ringo Starr's creative drum breaks (especially when he kicks the track into gear again after a brief false ending). The wildest effect is saved for last: the instrumental fade is dominated by one of the first uses of backwards vocals in a pop recording, in a gentle swirl that reinforces the suspicion that the song's inspiration was partially chemically derived.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hey Jude 1970 Capitol / Universal 3:04
Past Masters, Vol. 2 1988 Capitol / EMI Records 3:02
Past Masters 1988 Apple Records / Capitol 3:01
Not Guilty 1989 Barclay 0:00
Sessions 1990 Capitol 3:05
Documents, Vol. 3 1991 Oh Boy 3:06
CD Singles Collection 1993 Capitol 3:00
No Image 1994 Big Music 3:07
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 3:02
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 3:01
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 3:01
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 3:04