The Paul McCartney Project

Sun King

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Sun King” is a song written primarily by John Lennon, but credited to Lennon–McCartney and recorded by the Beatles for their 1969 album Abbey Road. It is the second song of side two’s climactic medley.

Background

Like other tracks on the album (notably “Because“) the song features lush multi-tracked vocal harmonies, provided by Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. The working title was “Here Comes the Sun King“, 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“.

The 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!’” Another noted aspect of the song is its use of cross-channel phasing, or stereo panning and fading. The lead guitar line slowly moves from the right to left channel and then back. This occurs in the beginning of the song, and then again at the end. 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 (Cmaj 7 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 Cmaj7 dominant chord at the word “Sun“. This represents an example of the jazz rule that allows a dominant (V) 7th chord (here Cmaj7) 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 verse beginning “Cuando para mucho” 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) 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. The frequent use of added 6th chords in the song accentuate its dreamlike feel. 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 (7th) and D (9th) combine in the vocals “to form a suitably lush fanfare for the monarch himself.”

“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 November 29, 2016

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

Official album • 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:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
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


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

0:55 • Studio version • 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 (2019)

Official album • Released in 2019

2:26 • Studio versionA2019 • 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:
Engineer
Giles Martin:
Producer
Phil McDonald:
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 (2019)

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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