BY ADAM PERLMUTTER | FROM THE SUMMER 2019 ISSUE OF UKULELE
The beginning of 1969 was a difficult time for the Beatles’ George Harrison, who had become disillusioned about the band’s business affairs and even quit temporarily. But things began to look up in the spring of that year, and when Harrison was visiting the country home of his friend Eric Clapton, he wrote what would prove one of the Beatles’ most popular songs—and one of the greatest songs in the rock canon in general—“Here Comes the Sun.”
When Harrison recorded “Here Comes the Sun,” he got a bright sound by capoing his acoustic guitar at the seventh fret and fingering chord shapes in the key of D major (sounding in A major). These shapes translate well to the ukulele, as you’ll see in this solo arrangement, which captures Harrison’s gentle riffs and warm vocal melody. The arrangement is in the key of G, but you can play it in the original key of A simply by placing a capo at the second fret or using D6 tuning (A D F# B).
Some general pointers: It’s important to bring out the melody when playing this piece, especially given the frequent appearance of the high G string, whose pitch falls in the same register as the tune. Do this by placing a bit of emphasis on the up-stemmed melody notes, but not picking too hard. It will help to imagine the melody being sung as you play it; for reference the lyrics are included here between the staves.
It’s also crucial to find the fretting fingers that will help you move from note to note and chord to chord most efficiently. Fingerings are a matter of personal preference, but as an example, at the end of bar 30, I would stop the third and second strings at the second fret with my third and fourth fingers, respectively, keeping those fingers in place as I slide them up to the tenth fret for a smooth transition to the B-flat chord in the following measure. Thinking about fingerings in this way will go a long way toward making your uke sing on this—or any—beautiful song.