When Abbey Road was first released on CD, the somewhat arbitrary decision was made to index each part of the side 2 medley as a separate track. And so if you had the disc on shuffle mode you’d get random snippets out of context, which could be a little jarring because your brain knew what was supposed to come next. This is still true with mp3s of the album, or if you put it on a Spotify playlist, for instance; any of the short pieces from the medley is likely to turn up on its own, and it never seems right.

The truth is that, even within the medley, certain songs are more connected than others. “Sun King” and “Mean Mr. Mustard” — both John songs — were recorded as one piece in the studio. But on the Super Deluxe Edition, which includes take 20 of both, they are once again split into two tracks.

It’s obvious that, 20 takes in, neither song is ready for prime time. (The master take would not come until #35.) “Mr. Mustard,” in particular, is a mess; the tempo drags and John is phoning in the vocal. At this point he hadn’t yet changed the name of Mr. Mustard’s sister from Shirley to Pam, which not only connects it to “Polythene” but fits the meter better. (At the very end he offers the alternate couplet “His sister Bernice/works in the furnace.”)

John recognizes that his performance is not up to snuff. “This won’t keep the Apple staff in work for the next ten years, lads,” he says. “There’s all those families to look after, you know. A lot of people to keep.”

And it does rather boggle the mind to think what it must have been like to create under those conditions — the whole world waiting to see what you were going to do next, and an entire industry depending on you. No wonder John took every drug he could get his hands on.

How many people, I wonder, does the Beatles Industrial Complex keep in biscuits and cheese even now? A worthy subject for someone’s Master’s thesis in economics; but that’s not my field, so over and out for now.

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