45 years ago today, George Harrison of The Beatles skipped out on a recording session for “Abbey Road,” went over to his friend Eric Clapton’s house, and wrote “Here Comes the Sun.”
“Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: ‘Sign this’ and ‘sign that,’” Harrison said of the time. “One day I decided I was going to sag off Apple, and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric’s acoustic guitars and wrote ‘Here Comes the Sun.’”
Good thing he did or the world might never have noticed that The Beatles had three (not just two) impressive composers. “Here Comes the Sun” put Harrison on the level with Lennon and McCartney as a songwriter. The B-side opener of “Abbey Road” was a ray of happiness much different from Harrison’s previously doleful, and slightly melancholy songs. “George was blossoming as a songwriter,” said Starr. “It’s interesting that George was coming to the fore and we were just breaking up.” Ringo wasn’t the only one who thought so, either. “I think that until now, until this year, our songs have been better than George’s,” an extremely competitive McCartney said to an extremely competitive Lennon during a break in the “Abbey Road” sessions. “Now, this year his songs are at least as good as ours.” Both the A-side opener “Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun” brought Harrison the respect of his bandmates just as The Beatles completed their final album together.
“Here Comes the Sun” gathered a lot more attention than his earlier songs due to how vivid and, well, sunny, the song sounds. The acoustic guitar that opens the track practically transports you to Clapton’s Surrey garden on a beautiful spring day, giving you the feeling that everything will just be all right. “Little darling / the smiles returning to the faces / And I say it’s all right,” Harrison sings, and you know it’s true. When the sweet melody comes in, you really hear how Harrison’s songwriting skills flourished. That’s not to say Harrison completely abandoned his previous techniques and mercurial tendencies. He incorporated a moody Moog synth that surprisingly doesn’t bring the happy song down but actually accentuates its lightheartedness. The ascending chords in the chorus partnered with the Beatles’ classic vocal harmonies smoothly lead back to the main guitar melody, making the song just emanate positive vibes.