"Martha My Dear
" is a Beatles
song written by Paul McCartney
(credited to Lennon/McCartney
), which first appeared on the double album The Beatles
(more popularly known as The White Album
Style and Form
The song features a music hall-inspired piano line that recurs throughout the piece, as well as a brass band. Typical of Beatles songs of the period, the song modulates smoothly through several keys.
The gracious surface charm of this song is belied by novel touches in form, phrasing and harmony than can be noticed without a closer look.
The form is complicated, albeit in subtle terms:
- A larger-than-average fraction of the song consists of purely instrumental music (the long intro, mid-section break, and outro).
- That instrumental intro encompasses one complete verse section, thus "forcing" the unusual deployment of only a single sung verse before the first bridge. Similarly, the instrumental verse section in the middle "forces" the final verse to be the only other sung verse in the entire song.
- Though the piece includes two bridges, the first one includes an extension that is cavalierly omitted the second time 'round.
The verse includes a Charleston-like syncopated repeat of the first melodic fragment, thereby setting up an asymmetrical interpolation of two excess beats within the first line of the song. Paul would much later employ a variation of this same technique in "Two Of Us"; in the early run-throughs of the latter (the first track on the venerable "Songs From The Past", Volume 4) Paul adjures his colleagues to listen to how well "it works" as he "rhythms it" for them, demo style.
The song was arguably inspired by the tune and lyrics of M'appari' tutt' amor from the opera Martha by Friedrich Von Flotow (1812-1883), first performed in Vienna in 1847, appearing thereafter in the following films:
Also performed in recitals by Fritz Wunderlich and Luciano Pavarotti.
One website attributes the lyrics to James Joyce (1882-1941), but the opera was performed 35 years before his birth, and some 120 years before the Beatles hit. The similarities in sentiment are also unmistakable.
It is reported by others that the title "Martha My Dear" was inspired by McCartney's Old English Sheepdog, also named Martha. McCartney has said, cryptically, that the song itself is probably about McCartney's longtime love interest Jane Asher. Asher broke off their engagement in mid-1968 when she found McCartney in bed with an Apple employee. McCartney chides her with the lyrics in the song "...when you find yourself in the thick of it, help yourself to a bit of what is all around you... Asher inspired many of McCartney's songs, including "Here, There, and Everywhere" and "We Can Work It Out". (A later "Martha" lyric explains, "You have always been my inspiration..." McCartney has also said, cryptically, that the song is about his "muse"—the voice in his head that tells him what words and music to write.)
McCartney's 1993 live album, Paul Is Live, features one of Martha's offspring on its cover.
- Paul McCartney – double-tracked vocal, piano, bass, lead guitar, handclaps, brass and string arrangement
- Ringo Starr – drums
- George Martin – brass and string arrangement
- Bernard Miller – violin
- Dennis McConnell – violin
- Lou Soufier – violin
- Les Maddox – violin
- Leo Birnbaum – viola
- Henry Myerscough – viola
- Reginald Kilby – cello
- Frederick Alexander – cello
- Leon Calvert – trumpet, flugelhorn
- Stanley Reynolds – trumpet
- Ronnie Hughes – trumpet
- Tony Tunstall – french horn
- Ted Barker – trombone
- Alf Reece – tuba
- Credits per Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn
This song was covered by Will Taylor and Strings Attached, with guest Libby Kirkpatrick. It is featured on their "Beatles White Album Live" CD,released in 2006. German pop band Fool's Garden
also did a cover of this song on their album Go and Ask Peggy for the Principal Thing
, released in 1997.
covered this song on their début album Beginings when they were called Ambrose Slade
The Brad Mehldau
Trio covered this song on their 2005 album, Day Is Done.
' song "Another Day" is based on this song, and the name is probably based on Paul McCartney's Another Day