Recording, mixing: Rain

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

The Beatles finished recording ‘Rain’, the b-side for their next single ‘Paperback Writer’, during an 11-hour session on this day.

Work began at 2.30pm, and finished at 1.30am the following day. The rhythm track, bass guitar and lead vocals, had been recorded two days previously.

Two reduction mixes were made, to free up space on the four-track tape. The second of these, called take 8, combined the guitars, drums, and bass guitar onto track one, and the addition of a new experimental vocal take by John Lennon on track three.

Reduction mix take 7, however, was selected as the best. Guitars and drums were on track one, Paul McCartney’s bass was on two, and Lennon’s vocals from 14 April were on three.

This left track four free for final overdubs. Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison added backing vocals, and Ringo Starr added a tambourine part.

The most famous addition, however, was the backwards vocal part which adorned the coda, which featured Lennon singing “Rain… If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads.” In one of his final interviews in 1980, Lennon claimed this as his idea.

I got home from the studio and I was stoned out of my mind on marijuana and, as I usually do, I listened to what I’d recorded that day. Somehow I got it on backwards and I sat there, transfixed, with the earphones on, with a big hash joint. I ran in the next day and said, ‘I know what to do with it, I know… Listen to this!’ So I made them all play it backwards.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

However, in 1988 George Martin remembered it as having been his idea.

I was always playing around with tapes and I thought it might be fun to do something extra with John’s voice. So I lifted a bit of his main vocal off the four-track, put it onto another spool, turned it around and then slid it back and forth until it fitted. John was out at the time but when he came back he was amazed. Again, it was backwards forever after that.
George Martin
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Listen to the released song’s coda reversed, to hear the backwards vocals in their correct form:

The vocals were from a tape reel assembled from Lennon’s original track three vocals recorded on 14 April. They were reversed and added to track three on the take 7 reduction mix.

With recording complete, four mono mixes of ‘Rain’ were made, the third of which was selected for the single. During the mixes Lennon’s lead vocals were thickened by artificial double tracking, or ADT.

There was no need for a stereo mix of ‘Rain’ at this time. The song remained available only in mono until the February 1970 compilation Hey Jude, issued in the United States. The album featured new stereo mixes of ‘Rain’ and ‘Lady Madonna’, created on 2 December 1969.

Last updated: 3 January 2023
Recording, mixing: Paperback Writer, Rain
Recording: Doctor Robert
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  1. Lord Gravy Friday 7 April 2017

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