"Martha my dear
though I spend my days in conversation
Please remember me
Martha my love
Don't forget me
Martha my dear
Hold your head up you silly girl
look what you've done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly Girl. . ."
These are the first part of McCartney/Lennon's lyrics to the Beatles' "Martha My Dear" on 1968's The White Album. That Paul wrote this for his Old English Sheepdog Martha is pretty common lore. What, exactly, did Paul have to say about it?
PAUL 1968: "You see, I just start singing some words with a tune, you know what I mean. Mainly I'm just doing a tune and then some words come into my head, you know. And these happened to be 'Martha My Dear, though I spend my days in conversation.' So you can read anything you like into it, but really it's just a song. It's me singing to my dog." (laughs)
PAUL circa-1994: "When I taught myself piano I liked to see how far I could go, and this (song) started off 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. Then when I was blocking out words-- you just mouth out sounds and some things come-- I found the words 'Martha my dear.' So I made up another fantasy song... I mean, I'm not really speaking to Martha, it's a communication of some sort or affection, but in a slightly abstract way-- 'You silly girl, look what you've done...' 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."
This and other comments on track by track of the White Album here. An online gallery from Portland, Oregon's Photographic Image Gallery includes Tom Murray's portrait of Paul, Ringo and Martha herself. And in 1993, the cover of McCartney's live album Paul Is Live shows him with one of Martha's puppies.