ED PARK • Devin’s post about the drumming on “Dear Prudence” spurred me to look up Ringo’s comments about his work on “Rain” (reprinted in William J. Dowlding’s Beatlesongs):
“My favorite piece of me is what I did on ‘Rain.’ I think I just played amazing. I was into the snare and high-hat. I think it was the first time I used this trick of starting a break by hitting the hi-hat first instead of going directly to a drum off the hi-hat . . . . I think it’s the best out of all the records I ever made. ‘Rain’ blows me away. It’s out of left field. I know me and I know my playing, and then there’s ‘Rain.’”
And this was a B-SIDE, remember.
The best musical analysis of “Rain” that I’ve found is in Tim Riley’s Tell Me Why. Here’s what he says about Ringo’s drumming on “Rain”:
“Ringo’s five pert raps on his snare drum (two plus three) coil the understated allure of the track into a commanding opening gesture . . . . During the second verse, Ringo’s drumming swells into inspired flourishes of rhythm, from the cunning reversals (high-hat preceding snare) to the way he plays right through a downbeat (on the repeat of the line ‘when the sun shines’), throwing the meter completely off. He hooks back up with the others just before the refrain.”
It’s this kind of analysis, that explains in accessible terms the technique behind the musical effects, that I appreciate most in Tell Me Why. Now I can explain, albeit with borrowed phrases, why I think “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” are the high-water mark in what a rock rhythm section has achieved.
That’s not to detract from Lennon and Harrison — their work is obviously crucial to both songs, and Lennon wrote “Rain.” George Martin and Geoff Emerick set up and captured it all. But what Starr and McCartney do on these tracks is simply astonishing.
Here’s an rare film promo of “Rain.”