Monday, 3 January 2011

12:13 Sun King

Welcome back to Beatles Sonwriting Academy and the first post of 2011!!!!

Did I say the Beatles rarely ripped off other groups? I spoke too soon. Sun King is a lame parody of Fleetwood Mac’s snoozefest Albatross. In Feb ’69 Peter Green’s lazy instrumental was topping the UK charts. 5 months later the Beatles were ripping it off in order to produce this sloppy soporific song that doesn’t really stand up – in or out – of the Long One medley.

In 1980 Lennon said the song was "garbage". In 2011 I agree with him. We have the Albatross section in E major, followed by a ‘chorus’ in C major. The chorus section is OK, but Lennon could write tunes like that in his sleep. The third section, is a recap of the Albatross section topped off with a monotonal vocal (in 3 or 4 part harmony) singing gibberish - a combination of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and ‘Scouse’. Here’s a couple of attempts at translation
When, by a lot, my love gives happiness to my heart,
World reporters, my love girl is green for all.
Thanks for this very much, what big hearts
- Jerry619, San Diego
When, for a lot, my love [has a] happy face,
World paparazzi, my love girl parasol.
How much is the overcoat?
So [very] much that can eat it. Carousel
- Jen, NY

Verdict? The most original thing on this track is the synthesized crickets.

Here’s a few quotes from the very wonderful The Beatles Ultimate Experience (aka  – highly recommended...
JOHN 1969: "We just started joking, you know, singing `quando para mucho.´ Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, so we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something. And of course we got `chicka ferdy´ in. That´s a Liverpool doesn´t mean anything to me but (childish taunting) `na-na, na-na-na!´ `Cake and eat it´ is another nice line too, because they have that in Spanish-- 'Que' or something.

GEORGE 1987: "At the time, 'Albatross' 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."


  1. Never noticed the similarity to "Albatross" before, but on Yoko's B-side to "Give Peace A Chance", "Remember Love" (which to my best recollection came out a couple months before Abbey Road), John plays the same guitar riff in the break that he does on "Sun King". Which seems to go along with his later recollection that his contributions to the Side 2 medley were basically extra stuff he had lying around that wouldn't have been used otherwise.

  2. Thanks J

    Yeah Albatross is the lead part and Remember Love is the rhythm part. I think it was pretty much one of Lennon's stock picking patterns - similar to the one he used on Dear Prudence and Julia.

    Thanks for pointing me to the song. I could only stand to listen to about 2 minutes before screaming "dear God make it stop!"

    I'll include the link so others can suffer along with us!

  3. Awww, I like this song! I like the warm, relaxed, "sunny" feel to it. It's a glimpse of Heaven, where everybody's laughing and everybody's happy. 30 years ago, I even went through some effort to understand the foreign language part of it (and failed). I'm not gonna let you wreck my enjoyment of it!

  4. Sorry Gary!

    You keep enjoying it. The one thing I didn't want to do when I started this project was either worship every note the Beatles recorded or dismiss everything as old hat. (That's two things..doh!). So I vowed to be totally self opinionated and biased. Who says I'm right? You're welcome to like it.

    BTW - I like the messianic interpretation. That almost makes me like it better! Perhaps the foreign bit could be speaking in tongues and we just don't have the right interpretation!

  5. Nice job bringing in the tongues, Matt. I hadn't thought of that angle.

  6. BTW have you heard Gus Gnik on the Love album - takes the tongues thing one step further...