"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" lyrics to be auctioned
Mon Nov 6, 2006
NEW YORK (AFP) - A guitar belonging to Jimi Hendrix and Beatles lyrics scribbled by Paul McCartney are among the highlights of a rock and pop memorabilia sale in New York next month.
The sunburst Fender Stratocaster owned by rock and blues legend Hendrix for a short time before his death in 1970 was expected to reach between 80,000 and 120,000 dollars, according to pre-sale estimates.
McCartney's original hand-written working lyrics for "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," which appeared on 1969 album "Abbey Road," was expected to reach between 200,000 and 300,000 dollars.
"Early Paul McCartney lyrics rarely appear on the auction market and this represents a very rare opportunity for collectors and fans," Christie's head of entertainment memorabilia Helen Hall said ahead of the December 4 sale.
A selection of personal notes, love letters and poems written by Bob Dylan are meanwhile on offer along with a demonstration copy of his 1963 album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" with handwritten amendments to the track listings.
Other memorabilia related to John Lennon and Bob Marley are also on offer.
Lot Number 164 Sale Number 1730
Lot Title The Beatles/Paul McCartney
Estimate 200,000 - 300,000 U.S. dollars
Lot Description The Beatles/Paul McCartney
A rare page of working lyrics in Paul McCartney's hand for Maxwell's Silver Hammer, 1968, the twenty lines in black ballpoint pen on a sheet of Apple Corps Limited, 3 Saville Row... headed stationery, the lyrics incomplete, omitting the last four lines of the second verse and the third verse of the released version, but showing some deletions and alterations to the text as McCartney worked out the song's wording and revealing some variations to the recorded version, variations and alterations include:
- Second line of second verse: Maxwell plays the ass again has been scored out and substituted with is an ass which has been substituted with a fool
- Sixth line of Second verse: You will wait behind... instead of the released version So he waits behind;
accompanied by two further pages of hand-written lyrics for the song in Mal Evans' hand, one page in blue ink with variations to the released version corresponding to the page in McCartney's hand, incorporating McCartney's corrections to the lines Back in school again Maxwell is a fool again, the other page in blue ink identical to the first but with further additions in black ink in Mal Evans' hand, including: - Whistling next to the first line of the song and after the chorus - at the foot of the page, Evans has added Whistling 2 verses Chorus Bang Whistling 2 Verses Chorus Bang Chorus (Whistling) Bang Solo 2 Verses Chorus Bang Chorus Bang End Bang Bang End BANG BANG (3)
Literature THE BEATLES Anthology, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000, p. 339
Lot Notes A trio of lyrics for a Beatles composition has never been seen on the market before. Before the proliferation of photocopying machines, lyrics would have been written out by hand for use by all those present in the recording studio. After beginning life with the Beatles as road manager, Mal Evans would later assist the band in the studio and would often be given the job of writing out the lyrics [see lot 163]. It is likely that the third set would have been used by Mal himself in the studio as footage from Let It Be shows him striking an anvil for the Bang Bang sections during early verions of Maxwell's Silver Hammer.
Released on the Beatles' album Abbey Road, Maxwell's Silver Hammer was recorded on 9-11 July and 6 August, 1968. The song took three days of overdubbing and apparently caused considerable arguments amongst the band. McCartney insisted it was a possible single but Lennon disagreed. In fact, Lennon recalled later ...he did everything to make it into a single, and it never was and it never could have been..., Lennon also remarked in 1969 It's a typical McCartney single, or whatever. He did quite a lot of work on it. I wasn't on "Maxwell". I was ill after the accident while they did most of that track and I believe he really ground George and Ringo into the ground recording it. We spent more money on that song than any of them on the whole album, I think...
The song has a vaudevillian nature despite it's depressing subject matter, being a story about medical student Maxwell Edison, who uses his silver hammer to murder his girlfriend, then his teacher, and finally the judge during his murder trial. Paul McCartney commented on the song in 1994 ..."Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer. I don't know why it was silver, it just sounded better than Maxwell's hammer. It was needed for scanning. We still use that expression now when something unexpected happens... Later, when talking about his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, McCartney said of his song-writing ...In the past I may have written tongue-in-cheek, like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' and dealt with matters of fate in a kind of comical, parody manner. It just so happens in this batch of songs I would look at these subjects and thought it was good for writing. If it's good enough to take to your psychiatrist, it's good enough to make a song of.
In The Anthology, McCartney says of his song-writing style ...some of my songs are based on personal experience, but my style is to veil it. A lot of them are made up, like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" which is the kind of song I would like to write. It's just a silly story about all these people I'd never met...The song epitomizes the downfalls of life. Just when everything is going smoothly - Bang! bang! - down comes Maxwell's silver hammer and ruins everything.
Lyrics for Beatles compositions hand-written in Paul McCartney's hand rarely surface on the auction market - these lyrics are originally from the collection of Barry Miles. The rest of Miles' collection was sold through these rooms in 1986 and included McCartney's lyrics for She came In Through The Bathroom Window.