Help me make peace with "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by John Porcellino, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. John Porcellino

    John Porcellino Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Beloit, WI
    I've been a Beatles fan for 40 years, and the only two tracks of theirs I've actively disliked are "Mr. Moonlight" and "Maxwell's."

    With Mr. Moonlight I finally learned to get through it by imagining a sarcastic smirk on John's face as they recorded that loopy, woozy organ, and his tongue firmly in cheek as he sang those cornball lyrics.

    Maxwell's though still spoils side one of Abbey Road for me. I get it's a goofy McCartney romp, a pop confection, and normally I can even enjoy something like that from him -- but it's so dumb. It makes Octopus's Garden seem like Faulkner. And to place it like this on what they surely knew was their final statement as a band seems perverse. Luckily it gets in and out without too much fuss, but I still dread its appearance every time I cue up the album.

    Please help me learn how to accept this song.

    Also, I thought the Beatles always took a vote on tracks, and a majority had to rule in their favor for album placement. Given that all three of Paul's bandmates spoke disparagingly of the tune (and its laborious production) afterwards, why didn't they simply nix it?

    I look forward to your thoughts!
  2. Champagne Boot

    Champagne Boot Jeff Foxworthy in a serious role

    Longtime Beatles fan--you don't need to. Don't beat yourself up about it. It's just not a very good song. Even the Beatles fall short sometimes.
  3. cublowell

    cublowell Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    Just picture Mal Evans banging the anvil in the LIB film, cracks me up every time. I'm sure he thought the diver bit in the Help film was easier & more enjoyable.
  4. rednedtugent

    rednedtugent Forum Resident

    Funk, Ohio
    I cannot. Listen to the bootleg of Paul teaching it to the others. (if you dare)
    vince and John Porcellino like this.
  5. obviously they didn't hate it as much as you do :p
    Octowen, VQRex, BeatlesBop and 15 others like this.
  6. schnitzerphilip

    schnitzerphilip "Custom Title" Unlocked Award

    NJ USA
    It's a great song on a legendary album, you can't criticize it. The harmonies are tight, the guitar solo is enjoyable, the baseline is epic.

    It's basically an unacoustic version of Rocky Raccoon and I don't know anyone who doesn't love Rocky Raccoon.
    Octowen, dougb222, vonwegen and 28 others like this.
  7. ralph7109

    ralph7109 Forum Resident

    Franklin, TN
    McCartney sometimes struggles with lyrics. He might uses word based on how they sound - with the meaning not as important.

    However with this song, he gives us a full story with characters, different verses and no nonsensical words.

    It’s not his best song, but I don’t understand the hate.
  8. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I don’t prefer it, but here’s what I do...

    I remember that the Beatles were superb innovators, and this song is one of the first in pop music to employ a Moog synthesizer.
    GLENN, Paulette, Lewisboogie and 5 others like this.
  9. Aftermath

    Aftermath Senior Member

    I suppose just try and tune out the lyrics if that's what you hate so much, and if you can't do that, just accept that you hate it. There's nothing wrong with that. :shrug:
    bzfgt likes this.
  10. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    >>I usually works for me with a track I don't enjoy :winkgrin:
    Frank, bzfgt and rednedtugent like this.
  11. The way I see it is this was Paul’s version of a Randy Newman character study designed to satirize something in this case the judicial system and how everyone is a victim including those that commit awful murders. It was inspired by the absurdist Alfred Jarry and the contrast between the childlike music and lyrics adds to the sense of absurdity.
    Octowen, nikh33, bonus and 18 others like this.
  12. sunking101

    sunking101 Forum Resident

    It's just a duff track. Hit the FFW button or go and put the kettle on. Sadly we can't remove it from the album.
  13. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Simcoe County
    That's how I got into it - I was in university and was learning about Jarry and the song made sense to me - lyrically - I always liked the performance and the music though - but it was yet another cool Beatle moment where there was more to it than met the eye
    nikh33, gja586, bumbletort and 3 others like this.
  14. 905

    905 Forum Resident

    Southern IL
    It's my favorite song off of Abbey Road. It just is...
  15. Mr_Vinyl

    Mr_Vinyl Forum Resident

    Not too sure why people find this song corny or childish. If anything, I find it quite violent, with the student hitting the teacher's head with a hammer???
  16. Elliottmarx

    Elliottmarx Always in the mood for Burt Bacharach

    Los Angeles
    I actually enjoy the lyrics quite a bit - we get some rather unusual locations: an amateur science lab, a grammar school classroom, a courthouse. We get a few really unusual words: quizzical, pataphysics, test tube, creeps. Plus a few really nice phrases: painting testimonial pictures, wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene. And, at least one really excellent (nearly Broadway worthy) internal rhyme - Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine. If you add that all up, you still get only a mediocre Beatles song, but a rather nifty, lyrically well crafted novelty song.
    Octowen, Michael P, VQRex and 25 others like this.
  17. xilef regnu

    xilef regnu Forum Resident

    Perhaps the cartoon version will win you over...

  18. varitone

    varitone Forum Resident

    Lincs, UK
    It's a great music hall style pop song, especially the lyrics which tell a three act story through vignettes involving various named characters. Key features are the elongated vowel melodic hook and witty use of rhyming words. Also nice use of moog as orchestration.

    If it was a Ray Davies song on Village Green more people would love it.
  19. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    the words don't bother me.....the chorus just falls flat. paul could've reworked it or something but I think he tried to push it thru, even Pele stubs his toe
    John Porcellino and Drifter like this.
  20. Kevin55

    Kevin55 Forum Resident

    Always thought it captured the spirit of the times rather well. That uneasy, suddenly sober "what fresh hell have we unleashed?" feeling at the end of the '60's.
    longaway, bonus, Paulwalrus and 6 others like this.
  21. Mai Tem Baht

    Mai Tem Baht Forum Resident

    The Beatles had something for everyone; their diversity was as wide as the sky. From Yellow Submarine to What’s the New Mary Jane.

    Maxwell’s is close to the Yellow Submarine end of the spectrum.

    Pop perfection in the same way as Obladi-Oblada was. It’s just a bit of fun and wasn’t designed to be taken too seriously - or was it?

    None of what I say will help you like it, though.
  22. daveidmarx

    daveidmarx Forem Residunt

    Astoria, NY USA
    Sounds far more like he's channeling Tom Lehrer to me...

  23. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
    I was probably 10 years old when I first started listening to Abbey Road and it just seemed like another song. Octopus's Garden, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Here Comes The Sun. Great tunes for a ten year old. It probably makes more sense than Come Together. Don't overthink it. Enjoy.
  24. Could be...
  25. i can do without maxwell but i love moonlight

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