The mistake hidden in The Beatles song ‘Here Comes the Sun’

The last few months of The Beatles took their toll on George Harrison. In the wake of the Get Back project, Harrison abruptly left the group after his bandmates failed to take his songs seriously, eventually saving a handful for the brilliant solo album All Things Must Pass. As the band reconvened to make one final musical statement, Harrison turned in one of his finest compositions after playing hooky.

After attending one monotonous business meeting after another, Harrison decided to skip one of his meetings to hang out with Eric Clapton, basking in his garden while the rest of the band were in town. Delicately strumming his guitar as the dawn arose, Harrison sculpted the beginning of ‘Here Comes the Sun’, which would become one of the final Beatles masterstrokes.

Despite the simple acoustic arrangement that it sounds like on the final version, Harrison’s way of weaving together his melody is incredibly complex. Having studied Indian music during his time working with Ravi Shankar, Harrison incorporates various odd time signatures into the mix, which confused Ringo Starr at first when trying to learn it.

The song also features the welcome addition of the Moog synthesiser. With Harrison testing out the parameters of what the software could do on his experimental album, Electronic Sound, the gentle strains of the synthesiser provided a nice retort to the restrained acoustic guitar playing. In The Beatles Anthology, Harrison remarked about how rudimentary the synthesiser was, saying, “When you listen to the sounds on ‘Here Comes the Sun’, it does some good things, but they’re all very kind of infant sounds”.

In the middle of the song, though, Harrison made one tiny error when enunciating his words. Although most of the tune is fairly simple lyrically speaking, Harrison couldn’t decide whether the last line of the final verse should be “it seems like years” or “it feels like years”.

Instead of choosing one over the other, Harrison sings a mixture of both, singing “It seels like years” over the final version. While the error was glossed over during the mixing, this was far from the first time that The Beatles had screwed up the words to their own songs.

At the beginning of their song ‘Please Please Me’, both John Lennon and Paul McCartney sang different lines for the final verse before autocorrecting to what the other was singing. Even on their more studio-based albums like Rubber Soul, the song ‘Drive My Car’ features a subtle error in the final verse, where Lennon and McCartney say ‘that’ and ‘the’ at the same time.

Even with the various errors in the mixing stages, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is a subtle reminder of how far Harrison had grown as a songwriter. Without the help of any writing partner like Lennon or McCartney, the ‘Quiet Beatle’ had broken his vows of silence and made songs that could stand alongside any of his fellow bandmates’ efforts. His vocal performance could have used a few tweaks, but nothing was taking away from the feel-good spirit of Harrison’s masterpiece.

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