|"Maxwell's Silver Hammer"|
Cover of the song's sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||9–11 July, 6 August 1969|
EMI Studios, London
"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, although credited to Lennon–McCartney."Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a pop song with dark, eccentric lyrics about a medical student named Maxwell Edison who commits murders with a hammer. The lyrics are disguised by the upbeat, catchy, and rather "childlike" sound of the song. The recording sessions for the track were an acrimonious time for the Beatles, as McCartney pressured his bandmates to work at length on the song. John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were vocal in their dislike of the song. Author Ian MacDonald began his description of the song by saying, "If any single recording shows why The Beatles broke up, it is 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.'"
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time. The group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. Their sound, rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways. They also pioneered recording techniques and explored music styles ranging from ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.
Abbey Road is the eleventh studio album by English rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. The recording sessions were the last in which all four Beatles participated. Let It Be was the final album that the Beatles completed and released before the band's dissolution in April 1970, but most of the album had been recorded before the Abbey Road sessions began. The two-sided hit single from the album, "Something" backed with "Come Together", was released in October and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.
Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist and bassist for the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with John Lennon remains the most successful in history. After the group disbanded in 1970, he pursued an also successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.
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. The film features two brief rehearsal takes compiled together showing the band's progress on the song up to that point. Lennon is shown to be participating on electric guitar despite not featuring on the recording for Abbey Road at all. Road manager and Beatles associate Mal Evans participates by providing the anvil hits.
In February 1968, the English rock band the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh in northern India to take part in a Transcendental Meditation (TM) training course at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The visit followed the group's denunciation of drugs in favour of TM and received widespread media attention. The band's interest in the Maharishi's teachings was led by George Harrison's commitment, and it changed Western attitudes about Indian spirituality and encouraged the study of Transcendental Meditation. The visit was also the most productive period for the Beatles' songwriting.
The Beatles, also known as "The White Album", is the ninth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. A double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band's name embossed, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band's previous LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968. The album's songs range in style from British blues and ska to pastiches of Chuck Berry and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Malcolm Frederick Evans was an English roadie and personal assistant employed to the Beatles from 1963 until their break-up in 1970.
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.
Linda Louise McCartney, Lady McCartney was an American musician, photographer, animal rights activist and entrepreneur. She was married to Paul McCartney of the Beatles. Linda was a professional photographer of celebrities and contemporary musicians. Her photos were also published in the book Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era in 1992.
The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It may be characterized by nontraditional, aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability, and it may offer a critique of the relationship between producer and consumer.
Alfred Jarry was a French symbolist writer who is best known for his play Ubu Roi (1896), a pataphysical work which depicts the bourgeoisie as the super-mediocre. He coined the term and philosophical concept of pataphysics, which uses absurd irony to portray symbolic truths.
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,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.
Abbey Road Studios is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, which owned it until Universal Music took control of part of EMI in 2013.
John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as the founder, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history. In 1969, he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, Yoko Ono. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon continued as a solo artist and as a collaborator of Ono's music.
Yoko Ono is a Japanese-American multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art, which she performs in both English and Japanese and filmmaking. She is known for being the wife of English singer-songwriter John Lennon of the Beatles from 1969 until his murder in 1980.
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.'"
George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Sometimes called "the quiet Beatle", Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles' work. Although the majority of the band's songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group included "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something".
Sir Richard Starkey, known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals with the group, usually for one song on each album, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Good Night", and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote and sang the Beatles' songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of others, including "What Goes On" and "Flying".
Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. It has returned its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.
Mal Evans is seen hitting the anvil in the Let It Be film, but the literature is divided on whether Evans or Starr played on the album version of the song. In his 2006 memoir, sound engineer Geoff Emerick recalled that "Ringo 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.Likewise, Ian MacDonald credits Evans as providing the hits in his book Revolution in the Head . Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon, however, are more prudent in their attribution, citing either Evans or Starr as the performer. Finally, Mark Lewisohn lists Ringo as performer of the anvil hits during the studio sessions 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."Robert Christgau referred to the song as "a McCartney crotchet".
Author Sean Pryor concludes, “That while "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a break from much of the rest of the Beatles' collection, Paul’s exploration into the human condition comes out in full display.”
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 ." The biographer, Mark Lewisohn, discussed a recorded conversation between Paul, John and George where John raised the possibility of individual songwriting credits being split equally between the three of them on a future album: "Paul – sounding, shall we say, relaxed – 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.”
According to Ian MacDonald,Andy Babiuk , Mark Lewisohn and Philippe Margotin :
"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.
"I'm Only Sleeping" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1966 studio album Revolver. In the United States and Canada, it was one of the three tracks that Capitol Records cut from the album and instead included on Yesterday and Today, released two months before Revolver. Credited as a Lennon–McCartney song, it was written primarily by John Lennon. The track includes a backwards lead guitar part, played by George Harrison, marking the first time that such a technique had been used on a pop recording.
"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 End" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. It was composed by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was the last song recorded collectively by all four Beatles, and is the final song of the medley that constitutes the majority of side two of the album. The song features one of the few drum solos recorded by Ringo Starr.
"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 associated with Lennon’s marriage to 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), and 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, composed by Paul McCartney, and appearing as the fourth song on the 1969 album Abbey Road. 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.
"One After 909" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1970 album Let It Be. It was written by John Lennon, with input from Paul McCartney. The album version is the live performance from the rooftop concert which took place on 30 January 1969. This performance is also included in the Let It Be film. The song was written no later than spring 1960 and perhaps as early as 1957, and is one of the first Lennon–McCartney compositions. "One After 909" is perhaps more reminiscent of early American rock 'n' roll than any of the other songs from the rooftop show, and as a joke for the rooftop chatter, Lennon sings a variant on the opening line of "Danny Boy" after the song is finished.
"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 of the album's climactic B-side medley. It notably 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".
"Your Mother Should Know" is a song by the Beatles from their 1967 record Magical Mystery Tour, released in the US as an LP on 27 November 1967 and in the UK as a double-EP on 8 December 1967. It was written by Paul McCartney based on a line from the screenplay for A Taste of Honey.
"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".
"And I Love Her" is a song recorded by English rock band the Beatles, written primarily by Paul McCartney. It is the fifth track of their third album, A Hard Day's Night, and was released 20 July 1964 along with "If I Fell" as a single release by Capitol Records in the United States, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Any Time at All" is a song recorded by English rock band the Beatles. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, 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 hit single "Please Please Me". It was also included on their 1963 debut album Please Please Me.
"Not Guilty" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison from his 1979 album George Harrison. He wrote the song in 1968 following the Beatles' Transcendental Meditation course in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an activity that he had led the group in undertaking. The lyrics refer to Harrison's relationship with his bandmates John Lennon and Paul McCartney as the Beatles resumed their career in the aftermath to their falling out with the Maharishi. The band spent several days recording the song amid the tensions that characterised the sessions for their 1968 double album The Beatles. The track was completed in August 1968 but not included on the release.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr began playing together as the Beatles in 1962. Their break-up was a cumulative process marked by rumours of a split and by ambiguous comments by the members themselves regarding their future as a band. In September 1969, Lennon privately informed his bandmates that he was leaving the band. There was no public acknowledgement of the break-up until 10 April 1970, when McCartney announced he was also leaving the group.
"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.
The studio practices of the Beatles evolved during the 1960s and, in some cases, influenced the way popular music was recorded. Some of the effects they employed were sampling, artificial double tracking (ADT) and the elaborate use of multitrack recording machines. They also used classical instruments on their recordings and guitar feedback. The group's attitude toward the recording process was summed up by Paul McCartney: "We would say, 'Try it. Just try it for us. If it sounds crappy, OK, we'll lose it. But it might just sound good.' We were always pushing ahead: Louder, further, longer, more, different."
... the song is a preternaturally catchy music-hall number ...
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