George Harrison wrote this in Eric Clapton's garden using one of Clapton's acoustic guitars. When the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, the band had to handle more of their accounting and business affairs, which Harrison hated. He wrote this after attending a round of business meetings. This song was inspired by the long winters in England which Harrison thought went on forever.
In the documentary The Material World, Eric Clapton talked about writing this song with Harrison: "It was one of those beautiful spring mornings. I think it was April, we were just walking around the garden with our guitars. I don't do that, you know? This is what George brought to the situation. He was just a magical guy... we sat down at the bottom of the garden, looking gout, and the sun was shining; it was a beautiful morning, and he began to sing the opening lines (to "Here Comes the Sun") and I just watched this thing come to life."
The music begins on the left channel and gradually moves to the right as Harrison's vocal begins.
The instrumental break is similar to "Badge
," which Harrison helped Clapton write for his band Cream.
John Lennon did not play on this. Around this time, he was making a habit of not playing on Harrison's compositions as the two were not on the best of terms. The two eventually settled their differences as George contributed quite a bit to Lennon's album Imagine two years later. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
Harrison sang lead vocals, played acoustic guitar and used his newly acquired Moog synthesizer on this track. It was one of the first pop songs to feature a Moog.
In 2006, this was voted by the members of the GeorgeHarrison.com forum as their favorite song of his.
In 1976, a cover by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel was a #10 hit in the UK.
Richie Havens covered this in 1971. The Beatles' version never charted, but his hit #16 in the US. Other popular covers were recorded by Nina Simone and Peter Tosh.
On November 20, 1976, Harrison performed this with Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live. On a previous show, producer Lorne Michaels offered The Beatles $3,000 (union minimum), to show up and perform. He said they could split it up any way they wanted, giving Ringo less if they felt like it. Lennon and McCartney were watching together in New York at the time and almost went. On the show when Harrison performed this, there is a skit where he is arguing with Michaels over the money. Michaels tries to explain that the $3000 was for the whole group, and he would have to accept less.
When Harrison died in 2001, many artists performed this at their concerts as a tribute. It was played at the induction ceremonies of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the all-star jam.
See a garden display dedicated to George Harrison in Song Images
George Harrison played a guitar solo that was placed at 1:02 into the song, but didn't make the final cut. Here's the clip where George Martin
and Dhani Harrison listen to it.
Take That's Gary Barlow covered this for a 2012 advert for Marks and Spencer. It was the first song he'd recorded as a solo artist since his sophomore album, Twelve Months, Eleven Days in 1999. He said: "It's a real a privilege to cover such an iconic track. You can't better perfection but I hope we've given it a modern twist that will capture the mood of the nation and provide the perfect anthem for summer 2012." The song's exposure on the commercial resulted in the original Beatles recording charting in the UK singles top 75 for the first time.
Tom Petty, who was Harrison's good friend and played with him in the Traveling Wilburys, said of this song in Rolling Stone: "No piece of music can make you feel better than this. It's such an optimistic song, with that little bit of ache in it that makes the happiness mean even more."