|"Maxwell's Silver Hammer"|
Cover of the Northern Songs sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||9–11 July, 6 August 1969|
"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road . It was written by Paul McCartney, but credited to Lennon–McCartney.The song is about a student named Maxwell Edison who commits murders with a hammer, with the lyrics disguised by an upbeat, catchy, and "childlike" sound. McCartney described the song as symbolic of the downfalls of life, being "my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does".
The song was initially rehearsed during the Get Back sessions in January 1969. During the recording of Abbey Road in July and August, the band devoted four recording sessions to completing the track. These sessions were an acrimonious time for the Beatles, as McCartney pressured his bandmates to work at length on the song. All three were vocal in their dislike of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". In a 2008 interview, Ringo Starr remembered it as "the worst session ever" and "the worst track we ever had to record".
While in Rishikesh, India, in early 1968, McCartney began to write the first verse of the song.Having completed most of it by October that year, he intended for its inclusion on the album The Beatles , but it was never properly recorded during those sessions due to time constraints. It was rehearsed again three months later, in January 1969, at Twickenham film studios during the Get Back sessions but would not be recorded for another six months.
McCartney's wife Linda said that he had become interested in avant-garde theatre and had immersed himself in the writings of Alfred Jarry. This influence is reflected in the story and tone of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", and also explains how McCartney came across Jarry's word "pataphysical", which occurs in the lyrics.
Lennon dismissed it as "more of Paul's granny music".In 1994, McCartney said that the song epitomises the downfalls of life, being "my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer. I don't know why it was silver, it just sounded better than Maxwell's hammer."
The Beatles began recording the song at EMI Studios (later Abbey Road Studios) in London on 9 July 1969. John Lennon, who had been absent from recording sessions for the previous eight days after being injured in a car crash, [ better source needed ] arrived to work on the song, accompanied by his wife, Yoko Ono, who, more badly hurt in the accident than Lennon, lay on a large double-bed in the studio. Sixteen takes of the rhythm track were made, followed by a series of guitar overdubs. The unused fifth take can be heard on Anthology 3 . Over the following two days the group overdubbed vocals, piano, Hammond organ, anvil, and guitar. The song was completed on 6 August, when McCartney recorded a solo on a Moog synthesizer.
The recording process subsequently drew unfavourable comments from Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Lennon said, "I was ill after the accident when they did most of that track, and it really ground George and Ringo into the ground recording it", adding later: "I hate it, 'cos all I remember is the track ... [Paul] did everything to make it into a single, and it never was and it never could have been." Harrison recalled: "Sometimes Paul would make us do these really fruity songs. I mean, my God, 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' was so fruity. After a while we did a good job on it, but when Paul got an idea or an arrangement in his head …" Starr told Rolling Stone in 2008: "The worst session ever was 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.' It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad." McCartney recalled: "The only arguments were about things like me spending three days on 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.' I remember George saying, 'You've taken three days, it's only a song.' – 'Yeah, but I want to get it right. I've got some thoughts on this one.'" [ better source needed ]
Mal Evans is seen hitting the anvil in the Let It Be film. In his description of the subsequent recording for Abbey Road, sound engineer Geoff Emerick said that Starr "simply didn't have the strength to lift the hammer", so Evans did the anvil hits, although he did not have a drummer's sense of timing.In his book Revolution in the Head , Ian MacDonald also credits Evans as providing the hits. Authors Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon are noncommittal, citing either Evans or Starr as the performer. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn lists Starr as the performer of the anvil hits during the studio session on 10 July.
In his 1969 review of Abbey Road, for Rolling Stone, John Mendelsohn wrote: "Paul McCartney and Ray Davies are the only two writers in rock and roll who could have written 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer', a jaunty vaudevillian/music-hallish celebration wherein Paul, in a rare naughty mood, celebrates the joys of being able to bash in the heads of anyone threatening to bring you down. Paul puts it across perfectly with the coyest imaginable choir-boy innocence."Writing in Oz magazine, Barry Miles described the song as "a complex little piece" and said that, aside from McCartney's casual interest in Jarry's work, "The only British pop group holding any pataphysical honours are The Soft Machine". Miles also said it was also "a perfect example of Paul's combination of American Rock with British brass band music". Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times found the album "refreshingly terse and unpretentious", but lamented the inclusion of "cod-1920s jokes (Maxwell's Silver Hammer)" and "Ringo's obligatory nursery arias (Octopus's Garden)". Robert Christgau later referred to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" as "a McCartney crotchet".
There exists a taped recording of a band meeting conducted in September 1969. Lennon raised the possibility of individual songwriting responsibilities being split equally between the three of them in future. In this arrangement, each of the writers would contribute four songs to an album, and Starr would have the opportunity to contribute two. Mark Lewisohn comments on the exchange that proceeded between the three bandmates (Starr was not present):
Paul ... responds to the news that George now has equal standing as a composer with John and himself by muttering something mildly provocative. “I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,” he says, which is a pretty double-edged compliment since the earlier compositions he’s implicitly disparaging include Taxman and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. There’s a nettled rejoinder from George: “That’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs." John reacts by telling Paul that nobody else in the group “dug” his Maxwell’s Silver Hammer ... and that it might be a good idea if he gave songs of that kind – which, John suggests, he probably didn’t even dig himself – to outside artists in whom he had an interest ... “I recorded it,” a drowsy Paul says, “because I liked it.”
Among Beatles biographers, Ian MacDonald said that "If any single recording shows why The Beatles broke up, it's 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer'." He continued:
This ghastly miscalculation – of which there are countless equivalents on his garrulous sequence of solo albums – represents by far his worst lapse of taste under the auspices of The Beatles … Thus Abbey Road embraces both extremes of McCartney: the clear-minded, sensitive caretaker of The Beatles in 'You Never Give Me Your Money' and the Long Medley – and the immature egotist who frittered away the group's patience and solidarity on sniggering nonsense like this.
Author Jonathan Gould cites "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" as an example of the selfishness inherent in the Beatles' creative partnership, whereby a composition by McCartney or Lennon would be given preference over a more substantial song by Harrison.He also rues McCartney's penchant for a light entertainment style that the Beatles had sought to render obsolete, and concludes:
The sorriest aspect of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' is thus the way it demonstrates how Paul's workmanlike tendency to build on his past successes had caused him to translate the genuinely charming novelty and subversive parody of 'When I'm Sixty-Four' into a personal subgenre of glibly clever songs that had devolved in the two years since Sgt. Pepper into a form of musical schtick .
In 2009, PopMatters editor John Bergstrom concluded his list "the worst of the Beatles" with the song. He said that while McCartney had previously created "some borderline-schmaltzy, music hall-inspired songs", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was "where even the secret admirer of 'Rocky Raccoon' must draw the line". Bergstrom described it as "Unnervingly 'cute', unrelentingly obnoxious, too literal-minded by half" and "the single Beatles song out of nearly 200 that is basically unlistenable".
According to Ian MacDonald,Andy Babiuk , Mark Lewisohn and Philippe Margotin:
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is a song recorded by the English rock band the Beatles for their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was written and composed primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon-McCartney.
"For No One" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1966 album Revolver. It was written by Paul McCartney, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. A baroque pop song about the end of a relationship, it was one of McCartney's most mature and poignant works upon its release. Mostly performed by the composer, the track is distinguished by its French horn solo, performed by Alan Civil and used as counterpoint in the final verse.
"Love Me Do" is the debut single by the English rock band the Beatles, backed by "P.S. I Love You". When the single was originally released in the United Kingdom on 5 October 1962, it peaked at number 17. In 1982 it was re-promoted and reached number four. It was released in the United States in 1964, where it became a number one hit.
"Rain" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released on 30 May 1966 as the B-side of their "Paperback Writer" single. Both songs were recorded during the sessions for Revolver, although neither appear on that album. "Rain" was written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. He described its meaning as "about people moaning about the weather all the time".
"Come Together" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is the opening track on their 1969 album Abbey Road and was also released as a single coupled with "Something". The song reached the top of the charts in the United States and peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.
"The Ballad of John and Yoko" is a song written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon–McCartney, and released by the English rock band The Beatles as a single in May 1969. The song, chronicling the events surrounding the wedding of Lennon and Yoko Ono, was the Beatles' 17th and final UK number one single.
"Thank You Girl" is a song recorded by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (Lennon–McCartney). It was issued as the B-side of the single "From Me to You", which was recorded on the same day. While not released on an LP in the United Kingdom until Rarities in 1978, the song was the second track on The Beatles' Second Album in the United States. As the B-side of the single "Do You Want to Know a Secret", it hit No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1964.
"Oh! Darling" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, appearing as the fourth song on the 1969 album Abbey Road. It was composed by Paul McCartney. Its working title was "Oh! Darling ". Although not issued as a single in either the United Kingdom or the United States, a regional subsidiary of Capitol successfully edited it as a single in Central America, having "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" as its B-side. It was also issued as a single in Portugal. Apple Records released "Oh! Darling" in Japan with "Here Comes the Sun" in June 1970.
"Carnival of Light" is an unreleased avant-garde recording by the English rock band the Beatles. It was commissioned for the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, an event held at the Roundhouse in London on 28 January and 4 February 1967. Recorded during a session for "Penny Lane", "Carnival of Light" is nearly 14 minutes long and contains distorted, echo-laden sounds of percussion, keyboards, guitar and vocals. Its creation was initiated by Paul McCartney's interest in the London avant-garde scene and through his connection with the designers Binder, Edwards & Vaughan.
"You Never Give Me Your Money" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was written by Paul McCartney and documented the financial and personal difficulties facing the band. The song is the first part of the medley on side two of their 1969 album Abbey Road and was recorded in stages between May and August that year.
"Carry That Weight" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, it is the seventh and penultimate song in the album's climactic side-two medley. It features unison vocals in the chorus from all four Beatles, a rarity in their songs. It is preceded by "Golden Slumbers" and segues into "The End".
"I Will" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, from their 1968 double album The Beatles. It was written by Paul McCartney and features him on lead vocal, guitar, and "vocal bass".
"Cry Baby Cry" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon from their 1968 double album The Beatles. The coda of the song is a short segment referred to as "Can You Take Me Back", written by Paul McCartney, which was actually an outtake from the "I Will" session.
"Lovely Rita" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It is about a female traffic warden and the narrator's affection for her.
"I'm Looking Through You" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1965 album Rubber Soul. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. McCartney wrote the song about English actress Jane Asher, his girlfriend for much of the 1960s, and her refusal to give up her stage career and focus on his needs. The line "You don't look different, but you have changed" reflects his dissatisfaction with their relationship. The lyrics also refer to his changing emotional state: "Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight".
"Every Little Thing" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their album Beatles for Sale, issued in the UK in December 1964. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written by Paul McCartney, although John Lennon is the more prominent lead vocalist on the recording. Capitol Records first issued the song in the US on Beatles VI in June 1965. The track is an early example of the Beatles' use of non-rock instrumentation on a recording, through the addition of timpani drum over the choruses.
"Any Time at All" is a song recorded by the English rock band the Beatles. Credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership, it was mainly composed by John Lennon, with an instrumental middle eight by Paul McCartney. It first appeared on the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night album.
"Ask Me Why" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles originally released in the United Kingdom as the B-side of their single "Please Please Me". It was also included on their 1963 debut album Please Please Me. It was written primarily by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership.
"If You've Got Trouble" is a song written by Lennon–McCartney and recorded by the Beatles on 18 February 1965 with Ringo Starr singing the lead vocal. The song was intended to be Starr's vocal appearance on the Help! album and the Help! film, but the Beatles were not happy with the recording and later chose "Act Naturally" instead. "If You've Got Trouble" remained unreleased until Anthology 2 in 1996.
"That Means a Lot" is a song written (mainly) by Paul McCartney, but credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was released in 1965 by P.J. Proby. Proby's version reached #24 on the NME chart. Prior to the release by Proby, the Beatles recorded a version that was intended for the Help! film and soundtrack album. The Beatles were dissatisfied with the song and their version was not released until the Anthology 2 CD in 1996.
... the song is a preternaturally catchy music-hall number ...
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Abbey Road|