Song 100: The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun” (1969)


Writing about the Beatles is kind of like posting a photo of a sandwich on Facebook. We’ve all had sandwiches, and we all know what it’s like to listen to the Beatles. But if you’re writing about pop music, you’re going to come around to the Beatles sooner or later, and here we are at my hundredth post (!), so why not? And let’s be honest: the Beatles are a very, very good sandwich.

For most of my childhood, I underestimated the Beatles in the same way that old people did in the early sixties: they were just those guys who sang “yeah yeah yeah” and flopped around a lot. Then my sister borrowed Sgt. Pepper from a friend, and I was confused. Wait, these are the same guys? They sound so … crazy! That was when I was about 12 years old. For the last 21 years, I’ve been obsessed with them.

I was a George fan early on, because he always seemed like the quiet underdog lingering in the shadows, honing his craft while Paul and John stood in the spotlight. It’s his songs that I come back to most often; even early ones like “I Need You” and “If I Needed Someone” showed that Harrison had the songwriting skills, if not yet the confidence, to match up with Lennon and McCartney. (And he was the funniest guy in A Hard Day’s Night, which is no mean feat.)

And if there’s one thing that “Here Comes the Sun” has, it’s confidence. It sounds strange to think of this gentle little song that way, but it takes a pretty sure-footed writer to put “doo doo doo doo” in a song. And Harrison must have been confident in his song to make the lyrics so simple. Elsewhere on Abbey Road, there’s a little boy killing people with a hammer, a friendly octopus, and a creepy old man who sleeps in the park, but in “Here Comes the Sun,” there’s one idea: things are getting better.

This might be an assumption based on what I already know about George Harrison’s interests and beliefs, but there’s something spiritual about the simplicity of this song. Every song’s refrain is a kind of mantra, but “here comes the sun” is a phrase that particularly lends itself to self-encouragement. The hard times are done, the good times are coming; just hold on. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun.

As I’ve gotten older and things have gotten inevitably (and wonderfully) more complicated, songs like these become more important to me. Not only is the message encouraging because it stresses warmth and positivity, it also stresses simplicity. Things may be complicated, but they’re actually pretty simple: outside your addled state of mind, the sun is coming out.

Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun.


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