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"Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 8:02 am

This is a Beatles' song with which I am not that familiar. Apparently it appeared as a b-side. Anyway, it's one of the rare things of theirs that is a wee bit on the obscure side, and it is different in a particular way.

They deliberately use "backwards vocals." Not backwards masking, because they're not "masking" anything; just singing the lyrics, announcing that they're first, and it's backwards. But clearly, in this peculiar, somewhat interesting way. I would like to know if this really was the first instance of this. If not, who was first? If yes, how long did it take people to realize it? And who was next? (I've read the Wiki, but there's clearly more history to this thing.)

And, is anything else in the music "backwards"? I hear that unusual sound more than just at the end, but perhaps not. Anything you could add would be of interest.

And how do people feel about this sort of thing? Does it add to the music, or would it perhaps have worked out just fine if sung "normally"? In other words, is it a gimmick, or is it art?

(I didn't pick this group to compare them to Elvis or anyone else, just to ask about the technique, and the decision to use it.)

"Rain."

phpBB [video]



rjm

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 9:07 am

"Rain" is one of the great, albeit lesser-known, Beatles tunes, from one of my favorite sessions, the recordings for Revolver. It is the B-side of their #1 hit in the summer of 1966, "Paperback Writer." Neither song is included on the LP, they just didn't do it like that back then.

Of course the work is art, and the entire period from April to June 1966 is astounding in terms of composition, performance, arrangement, recording and production. Innovations on all these fronts are so significant they are still relevant to this very day. Or, as Bob Dylan noted to Paul McCartney after hearing some pre-release Revolver acetates at the Mayfair Hotel in England, "Oh, I get it, you don't want to be cute anymore."

The single line ("When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads"), run backwards near the end of the track, isn't a gimmick, it is likely the first time a rock group had ever done it. That said, the idea was not premeditated:


The other key feature of Rain was John Lennon's backwards vocals, heard during the coda at the song's end. Lennon claimed that the discovery was the result of a stoned accident, when he threaded his rough mix tape of the song into his reel-to-reel player the wrong way round.

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. The fade is me actually singing backwards with the gutars going backwards. [Singing backwards] Sharethsmnowthsmeaness... [Laughter] That one was the gift of God, of Ja, actually, the god of marijuana, right? So Ja gave me that one.

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff


http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/rain/

Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 9:47 am

Well, he sure seems proud of it! I'll say that. I wasn't referring to whether the song itself was art, which it is, but the inclusion of the backwards part. Ok, I believe him; it was a happy mistake, but it certainly became a big hoop-dee-do in the '80s, when certain groups, metal groups, were accused of "masking" using backwards vocals. (Judas Priest was acquitted in the most notorious incident, as well they should have been.) So, it came to have an interesting history.

But if this really is the first known instance of recording this, was it immediately noticed, copied, and by whom? Because the idea certainly got around. (Prince did it one time for a joke, with a "spiritual" message that was completely inoffensive.) I was just interested in the history of it, and apparently this is where it dates to. And I don't remember this song. Not really. It sounds a bit like some others, but I didn't remember this song. And it has something cool in it.

rjm

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 4:13 pm

The Beatles and Elvis were the only 2 artists whose B sides were as good as the A sides most of the time with a few exceptions.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 8:48 pm

r&b wrote:The Beatles and Elvis were the only 2 artists whose B sides were as good as the A sides most of the time with a few exceptions.

Only? Uh nope.

Many bands are great b sides artists. The Smiths are a great example.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed May 29, 2013 9:26 pm

Don't know the Smiths. Strictly talking when I grew up (50's and 60's) and was buying 45s, most of the artists put a throw away song on the B side. Elvis and The Beatles did not. Occasionally Darin, Beach Boys, Stones and some others had some really good Bs. For most of my 45 collection however, I played the B side very seldom.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Thu May 30, 2013 11:30 pm

rjm wrote:I wasn't referring to whether the song itself was art...


Of course it's art: The Doc read a review of the song in a book and it said it was.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Thu May 30, 2013 11:35 pm

poormadpeter wrote:
rjm wrote:I wasn't referring to whether the song itself was art...


Of course it's art: The Doc read a review of the song in a book and it said it was.


Did you know that Sal Mineo loved the Beatles -- and "Rain" -- very, very much? ;-)

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Thu May 30, 2013 11:56 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
poormadpeter wrote:
rjm wrote:I wasn't referring to whether the song itself was art...


Of course it's art: The Doc read a review of the song in a book and it said it was.


Did you know that Sal Mineo loved the Beatles -- and "Rain" -- very, very much? ;-)


i would rather be able to construct opinions and back them up than be king of trivia. Thanks.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Fri May 31, 2013 2:26 am

Good song.

Image
Last edited by episthebest on Fri May 31, 2013 2:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Fri May 31, 2013 2:50 am

poormadpeter wrote:i would rather be able to construct opinions and back them up ...


Please let us know when you have achieved this goal, rather than your usual series of snide put-downs that litter this forum. ;-)

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Fri May 31, 2013 2:51 am

episthebest wrote:Good song. Here's a quote from a John Lennon interview ...


Please read the second post on this page...

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Fri May 31, 2013 2:57 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
episthebest wrote:Good song. Here's a quote from a John Lennon interview ...


Please read the second post on this page...

Sorry :sosorry:

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Fri May 31, 2013 8:44 am

Hey, it's my topic, fellas! Control yourselves. :mrgreen: :smt002

Actually, the whole backwards music/masking history hasn't been really addressed in terms of where it went, if this is the starting point, as Lennon announces. I could look it up, but I'd like to know people's own memories of such music. Did you ever play a record backwards after hearing a rumor? When did that sort of thing get started? I know Lennon said it was an accident and all, but my guess is that kids fooled around with their turntables even before, and certainly after.

That's what I was asking about.

rjm

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Sat Jun 01, 2013 10:35 pm

Love this amazing song. And the use of backwards-tapes was groundbreaking.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:33 pm

phpBB [video]



here's something interesting. there's a backwards message in the Marx Brothers movie "A night at the opera"... and yes I think "Rain" is an awesome song..

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:30 pm

joshferrell wrote:
phpBB [video]



here's something interesting. there's a backwards message in the Marx Brothers movie "A night at the opera"... and yes I think "Rain" is an awesome song..


I watched that about five times, and yes, there is real talking in the backwards part! And it goes along with the scene. Bizarre!

Well, Marx WAS before LennOn. ;) LOL!

Thanks.

rjm

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I317 using Tapatalk 2

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:16 pm

you're welcome

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:23 pm

r&b wrote:The Beatles and Elvis were the only 2 artists whose B sides were as good as the A sides most of the time with a few exceptions.


Like the Clash, for example.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:25 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:"Rain" is one of the great, albeit lesers-known, Beatles tunes, from one of my favorite sessions, the recordings for Revolver. It is the B-side of their #1 hit in the summer of 1966, "Paperback Writer." Neither song is included on the LP, they just didn't do it like that back then.

Of course the work is art, and the entire period from April to June 1966 is astounding in terms of composition, performance, arrangement, recording and production. Innovations on all these fronts are so significant they are still relevant to this very day. Or, as Bob Dylan noted to Paul McCartney after hearing some pre-release Revolver acetates at the Mayfair Hotel in England, "Oh, I get it, you don't want to be cute anymore."

The single line ("When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads"), run backwards near the end of the track, isn't a gimmick, it is likely the first time a rock group had ever done it. That said, the idea was not premeditated:


The other key feature of Rain was John Lennon's backwards vocals, heard during the coda at the song's end. Lennon claimed that the discovery was the result of a stoned accident, when he threaded his rough mix tape of the song into his reel-to-reel player the wrong way round.

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. The fade is me actually singing backwards with the gutars going backwards. [Singing backwards] Sharethsmnowthsmeaness... [Laughter] That one was the gift of God, of Ja, actually, the god of marijuana, right? So Ja gave me that one.

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff


http://www.beatlesbible.com/songs/rain/



It's a great track and to me superior to the A-side. Lennon vocal delivery is great. Obviously Liam and Noel Gallagher loved this very very much as you can hear in the sound of Oasis. Funnily enough producer George Martin has claimed he was the one who came up with the backwards bit.

Re: "Rain": Backwards Vocals Question

Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:33 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
r&b wrote:The Beatles and Elvis were the only 2 artists whose B sides were as good as the A sides most of the time with a few exceptions.


Like the Clash, for example.



And The Jam