The much-loved medley that makes up the bulk of side two of Abbey Road is comprised of eight songs (well, technically there are two medleys, but that sounds much less impressive than “THE MEDLEY” in all-caps and big bold letters as per the rules of AP style. Look it up). Taken as a whole, they represent one of the Beatles’ finest hours. Taken as individual songs, some clearly stand up better than others. But I’m not going to be one of those lazy lame-os who bunches them all together in my ranking. I’m doing them one at a time, so that my readers are getting their money’s worth. …Wait, I’m not getting paid for this? Screw that, here’s the rest of the list then.
If only it were that easy. Sometimes I hate having journalistic integrity.
While “Sun King” does deliver some of those classic Beatles harmonies I love so very much, it’s far too unfinished to stand out on its own. John Lennon literally resorted to a blend of nonsensical quasi-Spanish/Portuguese/Italian to fill out the second half of the lyrics (don’t even waste your time interpreting, linguists). And the guitar sound is admittedly lifted straight out of Fleetwood Mac’s instrumental “Albatross,” and while the Beatles certainly owed a great deal of debt to forefathers of rock like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, this is a very rare instance of them following the lead of their contemporaries. That would be fine if it were significantly better, but if “Sun King” took on “Albatross” in a cage match, it would be a split decision.
What really works against “Sun King” though–and this is little more than a stroke of bad luck, albeit one that is hard to ignore–is its opening lyric. “Here comes the sun king,” John, Paul, and George sing in unison. Just three songs earlier on Abbey Road, George Harrison wowed listeners with his stunning, sentimental “Here Comes the Sun.” “Sun King” never stood a chance.