Sun King

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969

Master album


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2020 • From paulmccartney.com

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“Sun King” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. Written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney, it is the second song of the album’s climactic medley. Like other tracks on the album (notably “Because“) the song features lush multi-tracked vocal harmonies, provided by Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

Background

The working title was “Here Comes the Sun King”,:182 but was shortened to “Sun King” to avoid confusion with Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun“. The song slowly fades in from the harbour sounds at the end of “You Never Give Me Your Money“. At the end of the song, the music stops abruptly and a drum fill by Ringo Starr leads into the next track, “Mean Mr. Mustard“.

A faux mixing of Romance languages occurs in the last three lines of the song. In 1969, Lennon was interviewed about these lyrics and said, “We just started joking, you know, singing ‘cuando para mucho.’ So we just made up… Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, you know. So we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something. And of course we got ‘chicka ferdy’ in. That’s a Liverpool expression. Just like sort – it doesn’t mean anything to me but (childish taunting) ‘na-na, na-na-na!'”
In an interview in 1987, Harrison said that the recording was inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross”. “At the time, ‘Albatross’ (by Fleetwood Mac) was out, with all the reverb on guitar. So we said, ‘Let’s be Fleetwood Mac doing Albatross, just to get going.’ It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac… but that was the point of origin.”

Musical structure

The song is in the key of C and the chorus (“Here comes the Sun King”) involves a I (C)–Imaj7 (Cmaj7 chord)–v7 (Gm7 chord)–VI7 (A7 chord) progression against a C–B–B♭–A vocal harmony.:198 An interesting feature (according to Pedler) is the substitution of the Gm7 chord for the C7 dominant chord at the word “Sun”. This represents an example of the jazz rule that allows a dominant (V) seventh chord (here C7) to be replaced by a minor chord a fifth above (here Gm7). The synchronous B♭ vocal harmonises with the ♭3 (B♭ note) of the Gm7 chord.:198 The coda beginning “Cuando para mucho”, which is an exact copy of the instrumental intro, is initially sung to a ii (F♯m7 chord), which moves to V–I (B6 to E6 chords) on “cora-zon”, then alternates back to ii (F♯m7) on “Mundo paparazzi” and “Cuesto obrigato” before again V–I (B6–E6) on “para-sol” and “carou-sel”.:62

The song is also notable for the vocally constructed ii-on-V ‘slash’ polychord (Dm7/G; also written G11) arising in the “Ahh” transition to verse (“Here comes …” and I (C) chord) while the bass makes the standard V (G note)–I (C note) move.:468 The frequent use of added sixth chords in the song accentuate its dreamlike feel.:470 The song also has an example of major 9th harmony in the Cmaj9 chord on “Here comes the Sun King”; here, above the tonic C major triad, both B (seventh) and D (ninth) combine in the vocals “to form a suitably lush fanfare for the monarch himself.”:570

“Gnik Nus”

A portion of the vocals was included as a reversed a cappella in the track titled “Gnik Nus” for the 2006 album Love. An instrumental section of “Sun King” was also used at the end of the track “Octopus’s Garden” on the compilation. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 14 Aug 1969. crossfaded 14,21 Aug 1969.
UK: Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969.
US: Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987.

[Sun King / Mean Mr Mustard] were recorded straight through. The first crossfade joined this to the following item, Polythene Pam / She Came in through the Bathroom Window. The second joined that combined tape to You Never Give Me Your Money.

Last updated on May 14, 2021

Lyrics

Here comes the sun king
Here comes the sun king
Everybody's laughing
Everybody's happy
Here comes the sun king

Quando paramucho mi amore de felice carazón
Mundo paparazzi mi amore chica ferdi para sol
Questo obrigado tanto mucho que canite carousel

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

LP • Released in 1969

2:26 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmonium, Harmony vocals, Piano, Tape loops
Ringo Starr :
Bongos, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Guitar, Maracas, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Lowrey organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 24, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 25, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 29, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jul 30, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Let It Be... Naked

Official album • Released in 2003

0:17 • Studio version


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

0:55 • Studio versionC • As suggested in its title, the track contains the vocal arrangement of "Sun King" played in reverse.

George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer
Sam Okell :
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

2:26 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmonium, Harmony vocals, Piano, Tape loops
Ringo Starr :
Bongos, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Guitar, Maracas, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Lowrey organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Jul 24, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 25, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 29, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jul 30, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

2:26 • Studio versionB • Stereo • 2019 Stereo Mix

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmonium, Harmony vocals, Piano, Tape loops
Ringo Starr :
Bongos, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Guitar, Maracas, Vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Lowrey organ, Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Phil McDonald :
Recording engineer
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 24, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 25, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jul 29, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jul 30, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2019

3:14 • Alternate take • Take 20

Giles Martin :
Producer
Sam Okell :
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 24, 1969
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

0:36 • Outtake • /Mean Mr Mustard Unknown Take Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

2:32 • Outtake • /Mean Mr Mustard Rockband Mix Stereo


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 2nd, 1969

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

2:20 • Rehearsal • Jan.02 - D1-29 - Sun King 2.18

Session Recording:
Jan 02, 1969
Studio :
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 2nd, 1969

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

0:29 • Rehearsal • Jan.02 - D1-35 - Sun King 2.24

Session Recording:
Jan 02, 1969
Studio :
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 3rd 1969 - 1 & 2

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

0:19 • Rehearsal • Jan.03 - D1-56 - Sun King 3.55

Session Recording:
Jan 03, 1969
Studio :
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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