♫ Uncle Albert — Admiral Halsey ♫

Tonight’s song is … shall we say, unique!  I’m sure I must have been familiar with it at one time, for parts of it ring a bell, while other parts do not.  I’m still chuckling, though, for some of the lyrics are downright humorous.  Thanks, rawgod, for requesting this one … definitely a fun departure from my norm!

According to SongFacts …

Albert was Albert Kendall, who married Paul’s aunt Milly (becoming “Uncle Albert”) and provided inspiration for a portion of this song suite. Albert had a habit of getting drunk and reading from The Bible; the only time he read from the Bible was when he was drinking.

McCartney combined pieces of various unfinished songs to create this; in the later years of The Beatles, they did this a lot as a way to put unfinished songs to good use. As a result, “Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” contains 12 different sections over the course of its 4:50 running time. This jumble of musical textures, comic character voices, sound effects and changing tempos turned off a lot of listeners, but many others thought it was brilliant. The song wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but in America it became McCartney’s first #1 hit as a solo artist.

Linda McCartney is credited as a co-writer on this song with Paul. She sang background and contributed some of the vocal ideas, but how much she actually wrote on the song is questionable. Paul had some incentive to credit her as a songwriter: under a deal he signed with The Beatles, songs he wrote until 1973 were owned by Northern Songs publishing and Maclen Music. By splitting the credits with his wife, he could keep half the royalties in the family. The publishers brought a lawsuit against Paul for this practice, which was settled out of court.

This song won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971.

The flugelhorn solo that leads into the “Hands across the water” section was played by American bebop trumpeter Marvin Stamm.

According to McCartney …

“I had an uncle – Albert Kendall – who was a lot of fun, and when I came to write Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey it was loosely about addressing that older generation, half thinking ‘What would they think of the way my generation does things? ‘That’s why I wrote the line ‘We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert’. There’s an imaginary element in many of my songs – to me, Admiral Halsey is symbolic of authority and therefore not to be taken too seriously. We recorded it in New York and George Martin helped me with the orchestral arrangement. I was surprised when it became a big hit.”

The song hit #1 in both the U.S. and Canada, but failed to chart in the UK … very odd for a Beatles song not to chart in the UK!  Note that I found a number of variations of lyrics, so I picked the one that seemed closest.  My apologies if they are not accurate.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert
We’re so sorry if we caused you any pain
We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert
But there’s no one left at home
And I believe I’m gonna rain.
We’re so sorry but we haven’t heard
A thing all day
We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But if anything should happen
We’ll be sure to give a ring

Yeah, yeah,

We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert
But we haven’t done a bloody thing all day
We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But the kettle’s on the boil
And we’re so easily called away

Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky
Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky

Admiral Halsey notified me
He had to have a berth or he couldn’t get to sea
I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie (butter pie?)
The butter wouldn’t melt so I put it in the pie

Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky
Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky

Live a little, be a gypsy, get around (get around)
Get your feet up off the ground
Live a little get around
Live a little, be a gypsy, get around (get around)
Get your feet up off the ground
Live a little, get around

Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky
Hands across the water (water)
Heads across the sky
Ooo——ooo—–

17 thoughts on “♫ Uncle Albert — Admiral Halsey ♫

  1. I’ve always liked this song, even though I’ve never understood it. You’ve helped me understand it a little better, but it’s still mostly a silly mystery to me. It’s just a fun listen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for playing this, Jill. To John and Jack (so far) there was a time I myself did not like this song, it was just a hodgepodge of failed songs thrown together for some monetary reason. I don’t know this, but it felt like John didn’t like it either, and refused to put his name on it. It was almost embarrassing. (Sidenote: does embarrassing come from allowing your “bare ass” to be seen?)
    That was then, this is now. Over the year I have come to appreciate this song. I now find it to be a joyful little melody that never allows you to become bored. It even puts a smile on my face, and some happiness in my heart. And some lines relate to today’s conditions: “We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert, but we haven’t done a bloody thing all day.” How many people are sitting in their undies these days, doing absolutely nothing but staring at the boob tube, a name Science Fiction writer Harlan Ellison invented in the 60s to describe the mindless people (boobs) gathered around staring at their television sets each and every night. And: “Hands across the water, water, hands across the sky” (which are the words sung in some version of this song rather than “heads across the sky.”) Right now the people of the world (sans Trump and minions) are reaching out across borders and oceans to fight Covid-19. We have to work together to defeat a common enemy that happens to like the conditions inside human beings.
    It might not be a brilliant song, but George Martin outdid himself on the production. He really turned garbage into gold.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ‘Twas my pleasure, dear friend! Never thought about the origins of the word embarrass, but … perhaps you’re onto something there. You’re right about the ‘hands across the water, hands across the sky’ portion of the lyrics … it symbolizes what we should be doing, and some are doing, today, rather than letting ourselves be distracted by the cheap politics that are so dividing us. Sigh. LuL

      Like

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