George Harrison, 1969
This song is ideal as an introduction to the topic of winter depression, which affects some people in Northern climates. It is also a mood-booster during dreary weather. In addition, it can be a springboard for a grammar lesson on the use of it’s been vs. it was.
Choose from the following activities, for levels high beginning and up:
- Pre-Listening Ask students to tell you what they know about the Beatles. Write the information on the board. If students don’t know much about them, supply some facts, for example: English rock band, formed in Liverpool; became popular worldwide in 1964; best-selling band in history, holding the record for the most number-one hits; members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; band broke up in 1970; John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001, but Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are still musically active; currently the most popular Beatles songs are “Come Together,” “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Love Me Do,” “Yesterday,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Help, and “All You Need Is Love.” Teaching Tip: When you write the information on the board, group related ideas to model idea mapping (also called mind mapping or concept mapping).
- Listening Listen to the story behind the writing of the song “Here Comes the Sun.” The audio recording is free on the Pearson catalog site. Click on “Stories Behind Songs Audio” at the top of the page. Then click on “Story 1: The Day Off.” Teaching Tip: You could narrow the listening activity by focusing on one strategy. For example, before listening, students could try to guess why Harrison wrote the song. Or they could listen for the answers to questions you have written on the board. (This story is from the textbook True Stories Behind the Songs.)
- Listening Copy the lyrics for “Here Comes the Sun” from the Internet. Listen to the official audio video while reading the lyrics.
- Listening Listen to the official audio video again. Sing along with the chorus: Here comes the sun, Here comes the sun, And I say it’s all right.
- Listening Watch a video of sun-filled scenes while listening to the song. (This is a cover by a Beatles tribute band.)
- Post-Listening If you are using this song to introduce the topic of winter depression, follow up with a related story about a man from Guatemala who is having trouble adjusting to winter in New York City. The audio recording is free on the Pearson catalog site. Click on “Stories Behind Songs Audio” at the top of the page. Then click on “Story 2: Victor’s Private Guatemala.” (This story is from the textbook True Stories Behind the Songs.)
- Post-Listening Ask students, “Does weather affect your mood?” (You may need to adjust the wording of the question to fit your students’ proficiency level.) Write a big YES on one end of the board, and a big NO on the other end. Students stand next to their answer. (They can also stand somewhere between YES and NO.) Ask students to explain their answers.
- Post-Listening If your students are from different regions of the world, ask them to complete the sentences below in writing.
In August, the weather in my country is…
In January, the weather in my country is…
Students share their writing in pairs or small groups. If you have Internet access in your classroom, follow up by asking students to tell the class what the current weather in their native city is.
- Post-Listening Practice the use of it’s been vs. it was. The song repeats the phrase It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter several times–an example of using the present perfect tense for a situation that began in the past and continues into the present. The worksheet below, for levels high beginning and up, contrasts the use of it’s been and it was. Permission granted to duplicate for classroom use.
- Post-Listening The same circumstances that prompted George Harrison to write “Here Comes the Sun” prompted Paul McCartney to write “Let It Be.” The story behind that song is also on this site.