♫ 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—–

♫ Let It Be ♫

At the time of its release in 1970, this Beatles tune had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning its chart run at number 6. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney and was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band.

McCartney said he had the idea of Let It Be after he had a dream about his mother during the tense period surrounding the sessions for The Beatles aka the White Album in 1968. According to McCartney, the song’s reference to “Mother Mary” was not biblical. McCartney explained that his mother – who died of cancer when he was fourteen – was the inspiration for the “Mother Mary” lyric. He later said: “It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing ‘Let It Be’.” He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him, “It will be all right, just let it be.”

Now here’s something I didn’t know. According to Songfacts …

The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song – Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You in January 1970, two months before The Beatles released their version (she also covered The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” on that album).

Aretha recorded it with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who were a group of musicians that owned their own studio in Alabama, but would travel to New York to record with Aretha. David Hood, who was their bass player, told us that Paul McCartney sent demos of the song to Atlantic Records (Franklin’s label) and to the Muscle Shoals musicians. Said Hood, “I kick myself for not grabbing that demo. Because I think they probably dropped it in the garbage. Our version was different. We changed it a little bit from his demo, where their version is different from that demo and from Aretha’s version, as well. Just slightly, but little things.”

A few other bits of trivia:

  • Sesame Street used this with the title changed to “Letter B.” The lyrics were changed to list words that begin with B.
  • The album had the largest initial sales in US record history up to that time: 3.7 million advance orders.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in The Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • This song was played at Linda McCartney’s funeral.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in the Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • John Legend and Alicia keys performed this song on the tribute special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired in 2014 exactly 50 years after the group made their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan Show. Legend introduced it as “a song that has comforted generations with its beauty and its message.”

Something else I didn’t know comes from The Vintage News site …

In July 1966 the Beatles toured the Philippines and unintentionally snubbed First Lady Imelda Marcos. Accustomed to high praise if not worship, she invited the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace in Manila, expecting the group to attend without hesitation. When the Beatles were presented with the invitation, however, they asked their manager, Brian Epstein, to politely decline it on behalf of the group, with an explanation that it had never been their policy to accept such “official” invitations.

Soon after, the band realized that the Marcos regime had rarely heard “no” from anyone–and there would be consequences. Imelda Marcos was infuriated when she found out that her grand planned party of 200 guests would not include the Beatles as special guests. Interestingly enough, the Philippine television and radio stations broadcast the snub. Shortly after, all of the Beatles security police suddenly disappeared. Epstein called for an interview, trying to make an apology on Chanel 5 at the Manila Hotel. But when his interview was about to be aired, the state-controlled channel blacked out.

Let It Be
The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Let It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC