Talk:Maxwell's Silver Hammer

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Dead Pope[edit]

So the song has no relation to the possibly-apocryphal claim that they hit a dead pope with a silver hammer and say his baptismal name to make sure he's really dead? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.245.29.229 (talkcontribs) 22:14, 3 April 2005‎

Skiffle[edit]

Heard that the song was inspired by a skiffle tune... any data? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.2.40.143 (talkcontribs) 22:11, 6 June 2005‎

Kenneth Halliwell[edit]

I had read somewhere that this song was partially inspired by the murder of British playwright Joe Orton by his lover Kenneth Halliwell, who bludgeoned him with a hammer. (Halliwell then committed suicide.) Orton's commercial success was contemporary with the Beatles', and he had been commissioned to write a screenplay for them, which they ultimately did not film because it was too risque. See also the book/film Prick Up Your Ears. --BAW 19:02, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics contained on the external link are incorrect. The first line actually goes, "Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical." It's a reference to Alfred Jarry's 'Pataphysics. --24.210.117.107 21:44, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Citation Needed[edit]

For the line concerning the reason that Paul laughed mid-recording (and why it would be kept in!) a citation needed has been included with an indication that it is still not prove.

Not important, but necessary.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Omglazers (talkcontribs) 06:22, 19 May 2006‎

Dead Pope, Part 2[edit]

Also, is this bit true?-

One particularly odd belief asserts that after the Bishop of Rome passes on, he is struck in the head with a silver hammer to confirm that he is well and truly gone and not merely sleeping soundly.

There is disagreement as to whether such a procedure is part of the parting process. We do know that once a Pope appears to have left this world, a pronouncement is made in Latin that he is dead, with this news certified by a physician. The camerlengo (chamberlain) calls out the pontiff's baptismal name three times over the corpse in an effort to prompt a response. Failing to get one, he defaces with a silver hammer that particular Bishop of Rome's Pescatorio (Ring of the Fisherman), along with the dies used to make lead seals for apostolic letters. The pope's quarters are then sealed, and funeral arrangements are begun by the camerlengo.

Some believe after the deceased has failed to answer to his name being called three times, and before his ring and seals are defaced, he is tapped on the forehead with a small silver hammer. That intelligence has been sped along by Stephen Bates, a journalist who penned a widely quoted-from article on rituals attaching to the passing of Popes.

For instance, in 2003 The Guardian quoted Bates thus: After the pope dies, an event confirmed when a senior member of staff strikes him on the forehead with a silver hammer and calls his baptismal name to make sure he is not just asleep, the cardinals will gather within a fortnight in the Vatican to deliberate in great secrecy on the choice of his successor. Yet The Guardian ran the following correction a few weeks later: The article below included the assertion that the corpse of a Pope is ritually struck on the head with a silver hammer to ascertain that there is no sign of life. According to the Vatican, this is a myth. While many news outlets continue to tout the silver hammer information as factual (which further adds to the confusion, as the resulting proliferation of articles appears to add credence to the claim, even though all such articles spring from the same wellhead), some offer counter information, such as this snippet gleaned from a 2005 Associated Press report: As for the silver hammer, it was indeed used to verify the pope's death, for centuries, until the practice ended with reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

But the camerlengo is still thought to use a silver mallet to destroy the papal ring and seals, symbolizing the end of the dead pope's reign. Symbolism aside, though, the act provides a safeguard against forgeries. It is not inconceivable that at least at one time such a macabre test was administered, because history is dotted with numerous instances of those presumed to have passed away suddenly springing back to life. At one time, the fear of being misdiagnosed as dead and consequently being buried alive prompted some to specify in their wills their desire to have special tests performed on their bodies to make some sure they were actually deceased. Surgical incisions, the application of boiling hot liquids, touching red-hot irons to their flesh, stabbing them through the heart, or even decapitating them were all specified at different times as a way of making sure they didn't wake up six feet under. Some opted for being buried with the means to do themselves in, and guns, knives, and poison were packed into coffins along with the deceased.

(These days, given western society's passion for embalming its departed loved ones, the chances of being prematurely buried are almost nil, because none so preserved stand a chance of surviving the process.)

In the wake of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005, news outlets and other sources have issued a variety of contradictory statements about the use of a silver hammer in connection with a pope's death: it's an old, discontinued practice, or it remains a current practice; the use of the hammer once served a functional purpose, or its use is (and always has been) purely symbolic. In light of these competing claims, we await a pronouncement from an identifiable (i.e., non-anonymous) Vatican official on the subject before declaring this one either 'True' or 'False.' — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bbbumpy (talkcontribs) 22:19, 25 September 2006‎

Citation needed: worst session[edit]

Even Ringo Starr recalled in an interview in early 2008: "The worst session ever was 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.' It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad." (This can not be verified... This quote does not appear within the context of the link provided in text or audio. Please advise or revise.) [7] — Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.225.198.177 (talkcontribs) 05:12, 16 March 2008‎

John or no John?[edit]

It says "Lennon, who did not participate in the recording," but then lists his as a contributor in the credits so I'm not sure what's right. Did he or did he not sing and play on this one? 12.162.122.5 (talk) 18:14, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

credits confusion[edit]

  • Ringo Starr – backing vocal, drums
  • Mal Evans – anvil
  • George Martin – organ

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[9], Andy Babiuk[10] and Mark Lewisohn[11]

For the studio version of the song, the anvil was played by Starr[9][10][11]; in the Beatles film Let It Be, however, Mal Evans is seen hitting the anvil as The Beatles record the track.


Ok, this indicates that Mal Evans did the anvil and then said specifically (and citedly) that Starr did. So why is Evans listed as personnel if studio version of the song is Starr? 12.162.122.5 (talk) 16:36, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Recent genre changes[edit]

The source cited (pg. 127 from Mulligan's book) calls this a pop song, and this review from Allmusic calls it a pop/rock song. The latter uses "pop/rock"; Wikipedia's page for "pop/rock" redirects to "pop rock", so what does it mean tocall it as it is in this context? I'm just sticking to the source, not making an assumption that the writer implied either/or "pop" song/"rock" song. Is that what you feel? Do you have an objection to the redirect to "pop rock"? Dan56 (talk) 22:15, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

You are judging it to either be "pop rock", or "pop" and "rock", by the article that you are linking to. If you don't feel comfortable having an unpiped link to "pop rock", then perhaps you're linking to the wrong article. Y2Kcrazyjoker4 (talkcontributions) 13:43, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm fine with the way it is. I'd like to know why you removed this material here. Dan56 (talk) 23:10, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
What aspect of the song is rock? I don't see it as anything but a bouncy pop production of a basic music hall style. Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt agree with the "music hall" connection in their book Get Back, page 141: "The piano part [of 'Her Majesty'] has the same music hall feel as the earlier rehearsals of 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.'" James E. Perone also agrees in The Album, page 212: "Paul McCartney's music hall-influenced 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' concerns Maxwell Edison, a serial killer..." Jonathan Gould also agrees in Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America, page 578: "...the song is a preternaturally catchy music-hall number in the line of 'When I'm Sixty-Four', 'Your Mother Should Know', and 'Honey Pie.'" Barry Pennock is another voice describing the song as music hall, in the chapter "Does Accent Matter... In Pop Music?", page 181: "'Polythene Pam'... is one of several tracks on the album with an air of Music Hall, including McCartney's 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.'" Edward Macan compares the song in his chapter "The Music's Not All That Matters, After All: British Progressive Rock as Social Criticism", within the book The Routledge History of Social Protest in Popular Music, page 194: "'Harold the Barrel,' from Nursery Cryme (1971), is a brilliant little song in the style of late Beatles faux music hall numbers like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' although [Peter] Gabriel's wit and social criticism cuts deeper." Jonathan Leaf writes that "McCartney deserves credit as well for his versatility: his 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' sounds like an old English music hall song..."; this is page 89 of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties. Binksternet (talk) 02:06, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Kenneth Halliwell reference[edit]

Is there any reason to believe that the song was connected to Halliwell's act? If so, the article should note this. As it stands, that reference on the page just looks like an unexplained aside, as it doesn't include any connection to the article's topic. And if there isn't evidence that there is a connection, the bit should probably be removed. GranChi (talk) 22:46, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

I totally agree and was wondering the same exact thing...what does this have to do with the song? Since no one has answered or bothered to fix it I'm just going to take it out. If someone wants to put it back in please include some information on why this is relevant, it very well may be important though I suspect it's just someone's unsupported assertion. 70.91.35.27 (talk) 20:40, 9 May 2014 (UTC)Tim


I am responding to you who signed as number 70.91.35.27 (if I may I’ll shorten that and just refer to you as 70.91): The content regarding Joe Orton should remain, it is accurate and verifiable and is supported with a reliable source. The content does indeed relate to the song in a number of ways. That’s why I’ll put it back, unless someone beats me to it. Here are some reasons to keep it — and these are mostly just off the top of my head:
First, Wikipedia exists to provide information to people; generally speaking, the more information it can provide the better it is. That’s according to WP:Editing policy. And there are reasons NOT to remove accurate and properly sourced material, without more consideration.
The lyrics to the song, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, references ‘pataphysics, which relates to Alfred Jarry, and many people associate Jarry and Orton, fellow dark satirists — they write in a similar spirit, both are playwrights.
Paul, according to Linda, read-up-on and was interested and aware of the school of writing that include Jarry and Orton. Paul and Orton were working together to come up with a script by Orton at the time of the murder. The murder was followed by Paul writing the song, which was followed by the recording of the song. Paul wrote the song in not only what might be a ‘pataphysical spirit, but a spirit that seems inspired by the black humor found in the plays of both Jarry and Orton. The song describes a murder with a hammer, which is how Orton was murdered — in a song that was written soon after the actual murder. And it treats a serious subject with a jaunty and zany black humor that is in the spirit of Orton and Jarry.
So, to recap a bit, the death of Orton and the song relate to each other in terms of time sequence, and in proximity of time, and in the fact that the two men who composed each were working together. This would indicate that, just based on time and sequence, Paul certainly had the murder on his mind at the time he wrote the song. The song and the actual murder relate in terms of the weapon used, and in the fact that the handling of a serious topic with a black humorous style was used by both authors. That both authors have a stylistic connection with Jarry, and both the song and Orton’s plays could in fact be considered ‘pataphysical.GretDrabba (talk) 22:38, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

I think you're misunderstanding the reason this was taken off, it wasn't because it was potentially irrelevant or unsupportable, it was because it stuck out like a sore thumb and was totally out of context with the rest of the article, e.g., you didn't (in the article) explain what this had to do with the song (and it still doesn't). You explain the connection HERE, but this isn't the article, this is the talk page. All we were saying was that the paragraph was puzzling because it wasn't stated what that had to do with the song (save for the brief Beatles mention at the end, which-without any explanation-just reads like original research). What you just said above is what should be in the article (i.e., what the connection was, i.e., the Paul was working with Orton, etc.), ASSUMING it can be properly referenced (many of your comments above sound like inferences and assumptions your making on your own, which of course aren't appropriate to include in the article itself). I will confess the whole thing sounds rather sketchy, I've never heard or read that account of the song in any other Beatles reference. Can others chime in with their thoughts on the relevency of this? And if it is relevant how to rewrite it so it logically flows with the article and is properly cited? (BTW, my name is after my IP address). 70.91.35.27 (talk) 18:16, 12 May 2014 (UTC)Tim

To further elaborate though, it's your last paragraph that's giving me pause about whether this is truly encyclopedic material (the emphasis is mine throughout):

So, to recap a bit, the death of Orton and the song relate to each other in terms of time sequence (coincidental), and in proximity of time (coincidental, and seemingly quite a stretch, as the song was written in October 1968, while Orton died in August 1967, over a year earlier), and in the fact that the two men who composed each were working together. This would indicate that (this wording [would indicate-to whom?] implies that this is your inference, i.e., original research), just based on time and sequence, Paul certainly had the murder on his mind at the time he wrote the song (Is there a source for this? Or are you assuming he did?). The song and the actual murder relate in terms of the weapon used, and in the fact that the handling of a serious topic with a black humorous style was used by both authors. That both authors have a stylistic connection with Jarry, and both the song and Orton’s plays could in fact be considered ‘pataphysical (all of this is original research, separate facts that you're connecting together to make them seem connected. Of the two references you cite, the first simply says he was killed with a hammer...no mention of the Beatles at all, and the second doesn't link out anywhere so unfortunately I can't tell if it's relevant).

Again, please know I'm not saying this should be deleted with no discussion, if it's in fact the way you say (and can be reliably cited as such) by all means leave it in (assuming others agree). And it would improve things to integrate the actual Beatle-connections instead of just dropping in the account of his death with no tie-in back to how it influenced the composition of the song. Thanks!! 70.91.35.27 (talk) 20:36, 12 May 2014 (UTC)Tim

Hi Tim, I know what you mean about the passage sticking out like a “sore thumb”. It certainly could be improved, at least, say, with a phrase introducing the idea.
A minor correction to something you said: the idea that the murder and the song occurred in sequence is not, as you have it, “coincidence” which would suggest that they happened at the same time. It is a relationship of subsequence, so that the murder happened, then the song was written. The murder weapon was a hammer, then subsequently the song was written about a murder with a hammer. And there are a few more strands. Can WP state that the murder-by-hammer was on Paul’s mind when, a year later, he wrote a song about a murder-by-hammer? Not unless somebody can find a good source that says as much. But WP can point out the fact that a murder-by-hammer happened to someone Paul had a creative relationship with, and then subsequently Paul wrote a song about a murder-by-hammer.
Another correction to something you said, that’s also minor: I can’t really plead guilty to using “original research” as you suggest, because I was, as I said, speaking off the top of my head, so I was not using any research at all. I don’t know where I read that the song followed the murder, but I know I read it, and I could look it up. But this is a talk page, where there’s a bit more latitude.
I’m tied up schedule-wise, so I can’t say that I’m free to do any research on this, at least not in the near future, but of course, any of us, you included, might take a crack at it. Certainly, the passage could be phrased better without adding or subtracting any specific content and by just using the sources that are there right now.
Also, if something sticks out like a sore thumb, or otherwise isn’t that well written, WP:PRESERVE, as I read it, suggests that’s not a reason to remove things.
When you say: “Of the two references you cite” you’ve stumped me a bit — I don’t think I cited any references. Did I? Also, you seem to be criticizing what I said for not using references. If I may respond to that by saying that on a talk page references are not required. I can tell you that Alfred Jarry, Mr. ‘Pataphysics”, and Joe Orton both wrote some wild dark satirical plays, and Paul was “into” absurdist theatre at the time, and if you are interested, then you, yourself, Tim, can do the research and see, and put it in the article if you want. Or don’t if you don’t.
When you say: “it would improve things to integrate the actual Beatle-connections” instead of, etc. You’re absolutely right. I agree. Cheers.GretDrabba (talk) 00:35, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
By "coincidence," I didn't mean they happened at the same time, I meant "two events that seem to have some connection but actually don't." I didn't understand this: "I can’t really plead guilty to using “original research” as you suggest, because I was, as I said, speaking off the top of my head, so I was not using any research at all. I don’t know where I read that the song followed the murder, but I know I read it, and I could look it up." Actually, that's exactly what original research means...statements that you arrive at "off the top of your head...using no research at all" (i.e., drawing your own conclusions). You even say you read it but you don't know where...that's what needs to be included, where this was written (and was it a reliable source). The two references I was talking about are right in the passage (which I presume you wrote), specifically #'s 9 and 10 (which don't talk about any connection to the song [at least 9 doesn't], just the murder).
I'm also not sure what you mean by there being more latitude on the talk page. The talk page is meant to be a place to discuss improvements to the article, which in this case partly means pointing out that the references in the article don't seem to back up what's being said. What I'm asking is whether you have sources that specifically verify the points you are making (as opposed to you drawing your own conclusions, which is original research). If a passage is not verifiable as is it's the job of the writer (you in this case) to find the proper sources and so forth so that it can be included, it's not my job (or anyone else's) to try and justify a passage that doesn't belong, at least as it stands, because it isn't properly sourced. It kinda sounds like you're saying "I seem to remember reading it somewhere, here are my own thoughts and conclusions on why this makes sense, and it's up to everyone else to provide the proper sources and do my research for me," which is quite the opposite of how this is supposed to work (This quote from the Wiki policy on Original Research may shed some light on what the dilemma is in this case: "This includes any analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position not advanced by the sources. To demonstrate that you are not adding OR, you must be able to cite reliable, published sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and directly support the material being presented. (This policy of no original research does not apply to talk pages.)"
Can anyone else chime in here?70.91.35.27 (talk) 14:02, 13 May 2014 (UTC)Tim
Looks like there has been a bit of discussion about this already (TL;DR). At the moment, the section in the article is not about the topic of the article, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", but seems to have been written to invite readers to draw the conclusion that there is a connection. This is inappropriate and the section as it now stands cannot remain. The text of the article must be about the subject of the article. If reliable sources directly relate the murder to the song, the text should directly discuss the connection. If individual sources discuss the song or the murder -- but not a connection between the two -- the section is synthesis, a form of original research and should be removed. - SummerPhD (talk) 16:48, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

I have to respectfully disagree with Tim on a few points:

You say you’re not sure about there being “more latitude on the talk page”. “Talk pages” and “articles” have different sets of guidelines. On talk pages there is indeed a certain latitude for speculation and personal knowledge, this is spelled out on WP:Talk.

You are mistaken to say that I used original research on a “talk page”. The stricture regarding OR comes into play over on the “article page” itself, but not on the “talk page”. See: WP:OR.

You referred to a couple of footnotes over on the article page that refer to published books. You indicated that you weren’t able to confirm one of them. Your local library may have a copy, or else it can come up with a copy — if you do want to pursue that. You could check with the librarian.

When you say “I presume you wrote” a particular part of the article itself, you presume incorrectly. I did not, there's no reason to make that assumption.

You ask me directly if I have any research. I’m sure I do, or else my library does. I don’t have time now to contribute any research. I expect that when things clear and the dust settles, I can turn my attention to such a task. However, if you do want any research you might try to do it yourself: Check with your librarian. They can often get any book in the world by various library-to-library loaning procedures.GretDrabba (talk) 17:40, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Do the sources discuss a relationship between the murder and the song? At the moment, that paragraph hangs out there like a random unrelated story. - SummerPhD (talk) 19:20, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, three different people have now agreed that this section isn't relevant, at least as it stands (without proper citations). I don't really understand what you're objecting to above (I didn't say you used original research on the Talk page). The problem is that you keep telling me to do the research necessary to validate this information...that's not my job (nor anyone else's here), it's yours. Your quote: "You ask me directly if I have any research. I’m sure I do, or else my library does. I don’t have time now to contribute any research." If you can't research it and provide proper citation (beyond, again to use your own words, "This would indicate that...Paul certainly had the murder on his mind at the time he wrote the song" and "both the song and Orton’s plays could in fact be considered ‘pataphysical', which are both simply your conjecture) then it shouldn't be here. We can disregard the talk page/article confusion, that's not really the issue here (I think we're just misunderstanding each other there.)
All we're asking you for is a reliable outside source that ties the two together, which you haven't provided. The task at hand isn't for us to do your research and validate your conclusions, it's up to you (and without it the section should be removed). When "things clear and the dust settles," perhaps you can research this more thoroughly and THEN add in the properly cited text. Until then it simply doesn't belong here.70.91.35.27 (talk) 19:21, 13 May 2014 (UTC)Tim
On the cited pages of the books cited, I find no mention of the Beatles in general or this song specifically. Searching electronic copies, I do not find the phrase "silver hammer". The section in the article shows no obvious sourced connection to the song. I am removing it as WP:OR. If the texts do discuss the song, please provide page numbers for the discussion. - SummerPhD (talk) 19:32, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Tim, you keep saying it's my job to do the research -- you seem to think that I wrote the article or at least that passage. You are absolutely mistaken about that. I didn't. I don't have any responsibility or "job" to do anything -- not any more than you do. I have corrected you before about this. I'm sorry to be emphatic, but come on -- you are repeatedly saying something about me that is not true. You incorrectly say: "it's the job of the writer (you in this case) to find the proper sources" -- I am not the writer of that passage. Please accept this correction.GretDrabba (talk) 20:00, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't matter who originally wrote it. What matters is that someone challenged it as unsourced and/or WP:OR. "The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and is satisfied by providing a citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution." WP:V, emphasis added. - SummerPhD (talk) 20:21, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Truth matters, Summer. It is wrong for editors to make false statements about other editors. I think you know that, even if you pretend otherwise. I restored the material because I was satisfied that the sources, two published books, are good reliable sources. And because the passage was removed by one who seemed to object to the sources that support the article — even while admitting that he wasn’t able to read both of the sources. The primary reasons given for removing the passage were stylistic, which is not sufficient as stated in the WP editing policy pages.

And you Summer, you, who entered the discussion by claiming that you haven’t read the foregoing discussion on the talk page, you ask a general question about what the sources actually say, which indicates you haven’t read the sources either, and then you claim you did an electronic search of a book that the publisher makes only partially available to electronic searches — so your search will come up empty whether or not the material is there in the books that are not made available. That’s not a correct procedure. You need to read the source before you can know what it says. Then you rush to judgment when you give your reasons for removing well-sourced material, and then you remove the material so quickly that no one has any time to respond to your comments. That is not editing as WP suggests.GretDrabba (talk) 20:56, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

Please assume good faith and discuss content, not editors.
I don't know what search you are using, by mine searches the entire text of the book, reporting -- though not necessarily giving full access to -- all hits. There weren't any.
The pages cited, which I have read in full, do not refer to the Beatles or the song in any way. Nothing cited to those pages has any bearing on this article.
If you wish to restore the material, you will need to find reliable sources directly relating to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", the subject of this article, and present the material in such a way that is both supported by the source you cite and directly related to the subject of the article. - SummerPhD (talk) 23:35, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, hopefully we can all take a step back and breathe (I certainly didn't intend for this to spiral out of control!). To GretDrabba, I do owe you a big apology. You are correct in that I had been assuming all along that you had written the original paragraph, I'm sorry about that! I can now see why we were getting confused about the whole original research/talk page thing, again, so sorry. If I may summarize where I hope we've landed...if this account of the writing of the story is indeed true I do agree it would be of interest and should be included, but not until proper sources can be found. Until then it's best to leave it off (per Wiki policy)...though of course if someone (whoever it might be) does find some appropriate references then it can be included, properly cited. Just to be clear, the original question stemmed from the paragraph's disconnect with the rest of the article (and to be honest, having read a lot about the Beatles-in this case Paul McCartney's recollections of the song which are mentioned earlier in the article-I had never heard that particular story before...not that "what I know" makes it wrong of course, just that it struck me as odd).
Again, no disrespect intended :) 69.242.122.190 (talk) 02:37, 14 May 2014 (UTC)Tim

Yeah, John or no John[edit]

This article clearly states that Lennon was a part of the later recordings, with Yoko in a double bed. You can hear him sing "doo de doo doo" clearly.dnsla23 08:08, 4 April 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dnsla (talkcontribs)