Song facts: Martha My Dear

On October 4th 1968, Paul McCartney recorded a new song for the White Album, Martha My Dear, at Trident Studios, London; where Hey Jude was also recorded. On this day Paul recorded vocal, piano and drums. George Martin later added an orchestral score he'd composed.

The track was completed the following day with bass and lead guitar played by Paul; who was the only Beatle to perform on the song, backed by a large number of session musicians. Paul derived his inspiration from his sheepdog Martha.

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'.

Paul McCartney

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.

Paul McCartney

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.

Paul McCartney

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – double-tracked lead vocals, piano, bass, drums, electric guitar, handclaps, brass and string arrangement
  • George Martin – brass and string arrangement
  • Bernard Miller – violin
  • Dennis McConnell – violin
  • Lou Sofier – violin
  • Les Maddox – violin
  • Leo Birnbaum – viola
  • Henry Myerscough – viola
  • Reginald Kilbey – cello
  • Frederick Alexander – cello
  • Peter Halling - cello
  • Leon Calvert – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Stanley Reynolds – trumpet
  • Ronnie Hughes – trumpet
  • Tony Tunstall – French horn
  • Ted Barker – trombone
  • Alf Reece – tuba
Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.

Paul McCartney with his sheepdog Martha, 1968.