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As Paul McCartney’s life moved further away from the centering force of Liverpool, the distance, both physical and cultural, started becoming increasingly apparent. It’s a distance described by Paul as inevitable, if regrettable. “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” is Paul’s expression of the dual longing for home one can experience while also longing to create a new life full of adventure. Released on Paul and Linda’s “RAM” album in 1971, the song is layered with meaning and references to his contradictory feelings.
“McCartney: A Life in Lyrics” is a co-production between iHeart Media, MPL and Pushkin Industries.
The series was produced by Pejk Malinovski and Sara McCrea; written by Sara McCrea; edited by Dan O’Donnell and Sophie Crane; mastered by Jason Gambrell with sound design by Pejk Malinovski. The series is executive produced by Leital Molad, Justin Richmond, Lee Eastman and Scott Rodger.
Thanks to Lee Eastman, Richard Ewbank, Scott Rodger, Aoife Corbett and Steve Ithell.
Pushkin. Hi everyone, it’s Paul Moldoin. Before we get to this episode, I wanted to let you know that you can binge all twelve episodes of McCartney A Life and Lyrics right now, add free by becoming a Pushkin Plus subscriber. Find Pushkin Plus on the McCartney A Life and Lyrics Show, pedge in Apple Podcasts, or at pushkin dot fm, slash Plus. We’re so sorry Uncle. So we look at Uncle Albert and cloudbut yeah, I actually had an uncle Loudus. We’re so sorry, Uncle Loud Cloud work with my dad in cotton firm. Dad was a salesman. Cloud, I think was there is something a little higher. We certainly had more money, but it was you know, our family gatherings were always very great, very friendly, very humorous occasions, and they would get pissed. A lot of the uncles were were referred to as piss artists. They drink a bit, They would drink a little. Sorry Cloud that would stand on the table and recite the Bible for some reason, you know, keep everyone straight and in the way of the light. I’m Paul Moldeu and I’ve been fortunate to spend time with one of the greatest songwriters of our era, and will you look at me? I’m going up to I’m actually a performer, that is, Sir Paul McCartney. We worked together on a book looking at the lyrics of more than one hundred and fifty of his songs, and we recorded many hours of our conversations. Actually I’m a songwriter, My god, well that cryptja homie. This is McCartney. A life in lyrics, a masterclass, a memoir, and an improvised journey with one of the most iconic figures in popular music in this episode, Uncle Albert Admiral Halsey. In nineteen sixty three, their manager Brian Epstein, relocated the Beatles’ base operations to London. By the end of the nineteen sixties, when Paul McCartney wrote Uncle Albert, his old life in Liverpool seemed far away. I’d moved away from Liverpool quite firmly by this point, and I wouldn’t see the family anywhere near us. Regularly. We might go back up for a New Year’s Eve party. After I moved to LEMOI would sometimes throw a New Year’s party with the idea of reassembling family in the good times. So there were a lot of jokes, a lot of songs, a lot of wit, a lot of play. All my uncles I can’t think of. War wasn’t funny, but it became less less as time went on, they became less nless they died, So the older generation, my dad’s generation, and they’re all gone there. So yeah, there was a nostalgic feeling for you know that, and also this feeling of I’ve moved myself so far out of what you know, what Uncleod knows about the cotton exchange, and then getting up on the table and getting drunk and you’re smoking his pipe. As Paul McCartney left his family behind in Liverpool, he was also leaving behind an era of war and poverty that framed the decades of his youth, the nineteen forties and nineteen fifties. This is a part of Liverpool, a city of nearly a million inhabitants and one of the biggest ports and shipbuilding areas in the world. During the war, it was a target for air raids which laid waste whole areas. Even though they were surrounded by these bombed ey item areas, the McCartneys weren’t directly affected by the war. Paul’s father worked at a cotton mill and his mother was a nurse. It was a striving working class home, but the effects of the war were still very much felt in Liverpool, a city which throughout the nineteen fifties had rationing protocols in place and was littered with bomb sites. I’ve moved away from all that. It was just like a say, if it had just just because of the circumstances of your life. Yeah, it kind of gone mentally and were also physically. It was in a film. Did you see that set? Drift off? Now the City Council are rebuilding fast. One of the most interesting achievements of the council was to establish, over one hundred years ago, public wash houses, where even now, thousands of Liverpool housewives bring their weekly wash. On top of the physical distance McCartney had put between himself and his hometown of Liverpool, he had also taken up a lifestyle that was light years removed from his humble beginnings. We’re so sorry, Uncloud. We’re not really saying I’m sorry, but I’m saying you wouldn’t get where I am now. I’m like in the Beatles, I’m like living in a big house in London. But isn’t it also saying I want to be with you. I’m so sorry if we course you any pain. There’s no one left from home, but I believe I’ve got a right. It’s just that a distance. I’m sorry. I’m not only by that. But you don’t want that distance. You yourself don’t want that distance. I don’t didn’t talk. You didn’t, well, I didn’t. That’s like saying you don’t want anyone to die. I mean, it’s it’s an unfortunate reality, that distance. It must unless you still live with your mom and dad. I gave you the one and all my life. The Beetle’s wild popularity meant that Paul was living an extravagant life in London. His uncle Albert didn’t actually do much calling, but his aunt Jin would occasionally make the trip down to check in. I mean, you go back into the sort of bosom of your family when when your Auntie comes to visits and you just do sort of all the old things. And so I was just sort of sitting around playing a bit of piano, and then in the evening sweet sort of sit around, have a drink and play cards and just talk and everything you know, and so originally come down. One of the reasons she’d come down was to talk to me about the sin of smoking pot. She’d been sent down. She was they called it, used to call her control. She’ve been sitting down as an emissary. And now who would have sent her on? The family? Who know? Family? Who knows which one or how many? I don’t know. Really, I think you know the word that just got back that ophole’s going a bit wild in London, you know, So go and check him out, Jinny. In the song, McCartney sings the first verse in a tone aligned with his younger naive self, new to London, far from home, apologizing for his departure, promising to get in touch only if he has something to reports. So sorry we have with those Sorry, So I’m saying I used to hear from him a lot, and so now I’m saying we haven’t heard a thing all day. So sorry, uncle Alba. But if anything that should happen, Moll be sure to give a ring. It’s just that sort of dismissive thing. Pat on my head will Neither speaker of the song seems to talk down to his relatives who cannot possibly understand his fabulous new life in the city. Yeah, I just imagine him now as a character there is Uncle Ab’re so sorry, but we haven’t done a bloody thing all day. And now I go into character now and am now some sort of very arrogant poshtar. Now I’m also sorry, Oh, glam I’m not a bloody thing all day, you know. So I live on another life here and I’m afraid, you know, I’m dismissing you. So the act, the shift and accent is enough. I’m trying to remember, Now, how do you do this? Yeah, that’s right here. By the time Paul McCartney wrote the song Uncle Albert in nineteen seventy, even the shine of London had worn off, the stodgy business meetings, the decline of the Beatles, fame and glamour losing their luster. The band had once carried the playful, spontaneous energy of their hometown, but at the end of the decade this playfulness had fizzled out. Once again, McCartney would have to create a new life. So then it goes into hands across the water across This is more now bringing it, this is more Me and Linda, Hands across the water you know, American and British heads across the sky. I like that which a lot of hands across the water. It heads across the sky. It’s interesting, it works for Anglo American. Yeah, sort of thing, couldn’t get the same. As the song shifts into a kind of carellesque nursery rhyme, another character enters the scene. This is William Bull Halsey, an admiral in the American Navy during the Second World War, and who you could tell from interviews wasn’t an especially nursery rhyme like character. We’re not down, are planned. We have burned them. We have drowned them, and I just planned to bury it. Are drowned? It does Halsey in any particular? Is that a historical I don’t know where I got any more Halsey from. I wouldn’t just read it or heard it somewhere. And then now I’m I’m in this arrogant of a class person who’s got into the song, and I’m just having fun with it. I like that, Yes, he goes, So it’s a play. It basically, it’s a little play, not elect But I suppose if this was a play, you could give these lines to different characters notified me I couldn’t get to say I had another link and I had a cup of bee and the butter pie. Admiral Holsey needs a birth to get to sea, but the narrator is ignoring him, is too busy having a cup of tea and some butter pie. The botter wouldn’t also put it in the pie. I like that. Amid the bleak negotiations surrounding the Beatles and the impossible ability of returning home to Liverpool, McCartney found the humor and lightheartedness he remembered from his extended family in his new wife, Linda Eastman. But these this little little beer trips you get around. This is me and Linda at that time, and this is sort of what we did. Ye what did you do? I was saying we wanted to escape the rigid systems we were living in. Mine was apple business, Alan Cline takeovers all of that, and I always I wanted to buy my own Christmas tree. I didn’t want the office to send a Christmas tree around for it. That’s a great, great webn’t it. I started actually doing that, or chapping one down in the forest in the back of the land ro it’s not as strong as a rebel, but we’re rebellious rebels with a sense of humor that we were doing all sorts of things like that would involved with like the animal activists getting on Christmas tree. Then it would be cooking and stuff. We go vegetarian, and now she’s going to figure out how we do Christmas turkey. So we do a macaroni turkey. It’s like mac and cheese, but it goes solid and then we’d slice it and we’d have that as a macaroni turkey. Paul and Linda managed to cut free and establish not only a new family, but a creative partnership. The song Uncle Albert, credited to the Husband Wife Doo, was number one on the American charts. In their new, more bohemian lifestyle, Paul and Linda could also establish the family life they wanted, filled with joyous humor and fun. It was perhaps this experience raising children on the farm that inspired McCartney to write about his extended family back in Liverpool, his uncle Albert, who had countered the war with a similar sense of humor. There was a good up from me, and I thought everyone’s families were like that, John. I’m here about his family life. It was like, yeah, so I really praised my family for that. It was so rich. It really was rich. And I think of what I am and a lot of what I write about a lot of what I think is that. And I often say I’ve met a lot of very amazing influential people in the world. Yeah that’ch a Barack Palmer, you know, the one and only, Sir Paul McCartney. Thank you so much. Oh, some of my li family I think was better. They just had something going for them. Besides this niceness and besides this good maness. Sense of humor was ridiculous. They were always being funny. And my theory is because they just got out of a bloody war. Unlike a lot of their friends, they just escaped being bond. We’re so sorry, but we had a day old day. We’re so sorry, Uncle album Day Heaven. We’ll be sure, Uncle Albert Admiral Holsey from Paul and Linda McCartney’s nineteen seventy one album Ram, but we have a plentyday. We’re so sorry tomorrow were away in our next episode. And if I said I really knew you, well, what would your answer be? If you read a day here Today a love song to John Lennon, had a conversation that never took place. McConn Cockney A Life in Lyrics is a co production between iHeartMedia NPL and Pushkin Industries
Last updated on November 11, 2023