Classic Rock



When it comes to bones of contention between Lennon and McCartney, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer is a veritable skeleton. McCartney began working on the song in early ’68, while the band were still in Rishikesh, India, with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Outwardly a jaunty music-hall number, its lyric (inspired by French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry – hence McCartney’s deployment of Jarry’s word ‘pataphysic­al’ in its opening line) told of medical student Maxwell Edison’s predilecti­on for mass murder.

While McCartney believed implicitly in the hit potential of his macabre compositio­n, driving the band to distractio­n (with the exception of the absent Lennon, who hated this latest example of what he disparagin­gly referred to as “Paul’s granny music”) as he attempted to deliver a definitive version over gruelling sessions in July 1969, his fellow Beatles were less than enthusiast­ic. As successive takes ground on, Harrison told McCartney: “You’ve taken three days. It’s only a song.” According to Starr: “It was the worst track we ever had to record.” George Martin added an organ, McCartney a Moog solo and roadie Mal Evans the anvil blows. Despite the accolade of a Peter Glaze Crackerjac­k pastiche, Maxwell’s Silver

Hammer never became the hit single McCartney hoped for.

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