Martha My Dear

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968

Master album


Other Beatles songs where Paul McCartney is the only Beatle playing


Yesterday

Officially appears on Help! (Mono)


Blackbird

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)


Related interviews


Interview with Radio Luxembourg

Nov 21, 1968 • From Radio Luxembourg

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“Martha My Dear” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 eponymous double album The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”). Credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was written solely by Paul McCartney about his Old English Sheepdog, Martha. It has been covered by numerous artists, including Slade, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Phish, and Les Boréades de Montréal.

Style and form

The song incorporates elements from pop rock music; it also features a music hall-inspired piano line that recurs throughout the piece, as well as a brass section. The song modulates through several keys.[page needed]

The song is notated mainly in the key of E♭ major, showing up embellished chords with jazzy sprinkled dissonances. The verse is a syncopated replicate of the first melodic section adding two extra beats, a technique similar to that used later by McCartney in “Two of Us“. Though the bridge is in the key of F major, the manner in which it abruptly sets in and exits makes it sound more out-of-the-way than it really is.

Recording

According to Beatles’ biographers Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn, “Martha My Dear” is one of the few songs by the band in which solely Paul McCartney played all the instruments (except orchestral instruments played by session musicians), something relatively usual for him at that introspective time during the height of the tensions that marred the sessions for the White Album. Although George Harrison is known to have recorded a small section of the electric guitar in the final recording, he was not credited.

The song was recorded over two days on 4 and 5 October 1968 at Trident Studios in London. McCartney recorded the piano, drums, and vocals on the first day. He was advised to have George Martin play the piano solo because it was believed that the solo was beyond Paul’s competency, but Paul persisted. George Martin’s brass and string arrangements were overdubbed later that day. The next day, McCartney re-recorded his vocals, added handclaps, and overdubbed bass and guitar parts, completing the song that day. […]

You see, I just start singing some words with a tune, you know what I mean. I don’t ever write a song thinking, ‘Now I’ll write a song about…’ I do sometimes, but mainly I don’t. Mainly I’m just doing a tune and then some words come into my head, you know. And these happened to be ‘Martha My Dear, though I spend my days in conversation.’ It doesn’t mean anything, you know, but those just happened to come to my head. So that’s what this song is about… it is about my dog. I don’t mean it, you know. I don’t ever try to make a serious social comment, you know. So you can read anything you like into it, but really it’s just a song. It’s me singing to my dog. (laughs)

Paul McCartney, from interview with Radio Luxembourg, 1968

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

When I taught myself piano I liked to see how far I could go, and this started life almost as a piece you’d learn as a piano lesson. It’s quite hard for me to play, it’s a two-handed thing, like a little set piece. In fact I remember one or two people being surprised that I’d played it because it’s slightly above my level or competence really, but I wrote it as that, something a bit more complex for me to play. Then while I was blocking out words – you just mouth out sounds and some things come – I found the words ‘Martha my dear’. […]

[Martha] 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. […]

It’s a communication of some sort of affection but in a slightly abstract way – ‘You silly girl, look what you’ve done,’ all that sort of stuff. These songs grow. Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it’s actually a dog, and our relationship was platonic, believe me.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] mono 5 Oct 1968 at Trident.
UK: Apple PMC 7067 white album 1968.

[b] stereo 5 Oct 1968 at Trident.
UK: Apple PCS 7067 white album 1968.
US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

This has a lot of tape hiss.

Paul McCartney and his sheep dog Martha – from Fuck yeah, Martha the Sheepdog! (tumblr.com)

Last updated on May 24, 2021

Lyrics

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
You silly girl

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

LP • Released in 1968

2:29 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (Stereo)

LP • Released in 1968

2:29 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

2:29 • Studio versionA2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

2:29 • Studio versionB2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

LP • Released in 2014

2:29 • Studio versionA2014 • Mono • 2014 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

2:29 • Studio versionC • Stereo • 2018 stereo mix

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Drums, Handclaps, Lead guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Tony Tunstall :
French horn
Leo Birnbaum :
Viola
Leon Calvert :
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey :
Cello
Barry Sheffield :
Recording engineer
Bernard Miller :
Violin
Dennis McConnell :
Violin
Lou Sofier :
Violin
Les Maddox :
Violin
Henry Myerscough :
Viola
Frederick Alexander :
Cello
Stanley Reynolds :
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes :
Trumpet
Ted Barker :
Trombone
Alf Reece :
Tuba
Sam Okell :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 04, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK

Session Overdubs:
Oct 05, 1968
Studio :
Trident Studios, London, UK


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

2:29 • Outtake • Without brass and strings

Bootlegs


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 10th, 1969 - 3 & 4

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

9:58 • Rehearsal • Jan.10 - D4-06 - Martha My Dear 10.76

Session Recording:
Jan 10, 1969
Studio :
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 14th, 1969 - 1 & 2

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

1:26 • Rehearsal • Jan.14 - D1-04 - Martha My Dear 14.03

Session Recording:
Jan 14, 1969
Studio :
Twickenham Film Studios, London, UK


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 25th, 1969 - 5

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

1:11 • Rehearsal • Jan.25 - D6-13 - Martha My Dear 25.82

Session Recording:
Jan 25, 1969
Studio :
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


Let 'Em Out Vol. 4 - World Tour Rehearsals

Unofficial album • Released in 2010

0:44 • Studio rehearsal • Bonus - Instrumental edit - No Horn


Back To Budokan 2015

Unofficial live • Released in 2015

Soundcheck

Concert From the concert in Tokyo, Japan on Apr 28, 2015


Live performances

“Martha My Dear” has been played in 2 soundchecks.

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