Song Lyric Sunday: Martha My Dear

For today’s Song Lyric Sunday Jim has set us the task of sharing a song about pets, names, memories. You can see his post here to get the full story. I had a bit of trouble choosing between two songs for this – the one I didn’t go with is I Love My Dog by Cat Stevens, but I settled on this one because it does include a name as well as being about a pet, and I think that makes it a slightly better fit for the brief:

As the video shows, this was a track on the album officially called The Beatles, but known to everyone since the day it was released as The White Album – the image in the video is taken from a later remaster, but the original sleeve was plain white, with the title The Beatles embossed on the lower right front corner – I remember my copy well! The album was released in November 1968 and, of course, went to #1 just about everywhere and has sold more than 17m copies worldwide. It was an ambitious double album, with the band taking in a huge range of musical styles, and was very much their magnum opus. This track was the opener on side two, and its lyrics are:

Martha, my dear
Though I spend my days in conversation
Please, remember me
Martha, my love
Don’t forget me
Martha, my dear

Hold your head up, you silly girl
Look what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl

Take a good look around you
Take a good look, you’re bound to see
That you and me
Were meant to be for each other
Silly girl

Hold your hand out, you silly girl
See what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl

Martha, my dear
You have always been my inspiration
Please, be good to me
Martha, my love
Don’t forget me
Martha, my dear

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Lennon John Winston / Mccartney Paul James

Martha My Dear lyrics © Sony/atv Tunes Llc

Though the song is credited to the Lennon/McCartney ‘partnership’ this was, as always by that stage, written by just one of them. In this case it was Paul McCartney, and the titular Martha was his Old English Sheepdog, though the lyrics could equally well apply to a human – maybe they did? Wikipedia describes the background to the song thus: “According to Beatles biographers Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn, Martha My Dear is one of the few songs by the band in which McCartney played all the instruments (except orchestral instruments played by session musicians). Such a scenario was increasingly common for him during the height of the tensions that marred the sessions for the album. Although George Harrison is known to have recorded a portion of the electric guitar on the final recording, he was not credited.” The song was recorded over two days, 4 and 5 October 1968, at Trident Studios in Soho, London. The Beatles didn’t always frequent the famous Abbey Road studios, and this wasn’t the first time they had used Trident: Hey Jude was recorded there earlier in 1968, along with some of the other tracks on this album.

Martha was two years old at the time the song was written, and had been bought by Paul as a puppy. Paul has been quoted as saying “She was a dear pet of mine. I remember John  being amazed to see me being so loving to an animal.”  He said, ‘I’ve never seen you like that before.’ I’ve since thought, you know, he wouldn’t have.  It’s only when you’re cuddling around with a dog that you’re in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog.” And Martha featured in band publicity shots at the time – it seems they all liked her:

The White Album was released at the ideal time of year: I asked for it as a Christmas present, and Mum and Dad kindly obliged. In those days I used to get Disc And Music Echo, a weekly pop music magazine. It ran a detailed track by track review of the album which I cut and saved to slip into the record sleeve as a memento. We didn’t always share musical tastes in our household, but The Beatles could be relied on to provide songs that my parents and my sister also liked. This was one of those: my Mum loved it, as did I. It still brings back happy memories of those days whenever I hear it, as we used to sing along together to it – Mum knew the words as well as I did!

28 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Martha My Dear

  1. Pingback: August | Take It Easy

    • Unless you have the album it’s unlikely you’d have heard it before. I don’t ever recall hearing it on the radio even when the album was new! I liked the photos too, I felt they added to the song’s back story 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this is probably hard to believe, but that’s the first time I’ve heard this Beatles tune. I don’t own The White Album, though I’m familiar with many of the songs on it. This one is marvelous—quite different from most Beatles’ tunes.

    I took the time to look up I Love My Dog because I don’t think I’ve heard that one either. I love the melody, Cat Stevens’s (Yusuf’s) recognizable voice, and the beautiful lyrics. As a guy who has lived with a dog most of his life, I loved it! 2 for 2 today, Clive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That does surprise me, Pete, though as you’ve never owned the album you probably would have missed it: it isn’t one of the more well-known track and I doubt it ever gets any airplay now – if it ever did. It’s a lovely little tune, isn’t it.

      Thanks for following up on the Cat Stevens one. I don’t know if it was ever successful there but it was one of his two big hits here – the other being Matthew And Son – before his pop career was put on hold for well over a year after a life-threatening illness.

      Happy to have given you two that you enjoyed 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Clive, thanks for highlighting this infrequently played song. It is evidence of the breadth and depth of their talent where songs beneath the more popular ones exist that are quite good. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a delightful song. At the time, Mom and Dad claimed they didn’t like the Beatles, Dad was a country and western guy. and they thought we were silly screaming at the TV when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. But many years later, during a conversation remembering our youth, Mom admitted she liked the Fab 4 as well and thought they were awfully cute.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A great choice Clive a really nice track I remember getting the white Album and being impressed by it’s variation!
    I looked at the post from the personal angle had I not I could have gone with Delilah by Queen about Freddy’s cat by the same name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Willow. There was so much on that album, wasn’t there! This is a lovely song. I didn’t go the personal route as the dog we had during childhood was called Sue and I didn’t fancy playing Johnny Cash! I think you made much the better choice for yours.

      Like

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