Maxwell's Silver Hammer is a song by The Beatles, from the Abbey Road album, with Paul McCartney singing lead. It was written by McCartney, though the songwriting credit is Lennon/McCartney. At the part(s) of the song, where it goes 'Bang! Bang!', in the studio, it's actually a person with a hammer.
The Beatles' OpinionsEdit
The song took three days of overdubbing because McCartney imagined that it could be a future single. John Lennon later recalled, "I hate it, 'cause all I remember is the track.. [McCartney] did everything to make it into a single, and it never was and it never could have been." According to Lennon, the band spent more money on that song than any other on Abbey Road, and he derided the song at the time as a prime example of McCartney's "granny-style" writing. John also remembers: "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" and then later adding, "
Paul McCartney said in 1994 that: "the song merely 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. It was needed for scanning. We still use that expression now when something unexpected happens."
George Harrison described it in 1969 as "one of those instant whistle-along tunes which some people hate, and other people really like. It's a fun song, but it's kind of a drag because Maxwell keeps on destroying everyone like his girlfriend then the school teacher, and then, finally, the judge." "We spent a hell of a lot of time on it" though eventually admitting, "after a while, we did a good job on it." In 1977, Harrison would be less charitable, stating "I mean, my God, 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' was so fruity."
Even Ringo Starr recalled in an interview in early 2008: "The worst session ever was 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.' It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for f--king weeks. I thought it was mad."
When asked about arguments when recording Maxwell's Silver Hammer, McCartney reports: 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.' It was early-days Moog work and it did take a bit of time".
According to most of the Beatles, they strongly disliked recording Maxwell's Silver Hammer. Recording began at Abbey Road Studios on 9 July 1969. John Lennon, who had been absent from a few recording sessions for the previous eight days after he was 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, of course upsetting the other band members. 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.
- Paul McCartney - Lead and Backing Vocals,Piano, Moog Synthesizer, Lead Guitar
- George Harrison - Backing Vocals,Six-String Bass Guitar (1968 Fender Bass VI), Lead and Acoustic Guitar
- Ringo Starr - Backing Vocals,Drums and Anvil*
- George Martin - Organ
*For the studio version of the song, the anvil was played by Starr; in the Beatles film Let It Be, however, Evans is seen hitting the anvil as the Beatles record the track.
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