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"Martha My Dear"

Categories: Beatles songs

Paul McCartney's sheepdog Martha, inspiration for "Martha My Dear"
Paul and Martha McCartney
Martha, My Dear, who opens the second side of The White Album, was Paul's dog. A big, soppy Old English Dulux Sheepdog.

"A purely platonic relationship", he saw the need to affirm. "I love my dog", as some other Cat had put it in an equally elaborate eulogy to man's best friend.

The intricate piano intro was the development of a practice exercise which Paul was working on. I always picture him getting distracted by the sound of dear old Martha trashing the bin in the kitchen, or causing some other kind of canine mischief:

Hold your head up, you silly girl:
Look what you've done!


The McMartin orchestral arrangement is exquisite, the oompah brass catching the comic hangdog look of shame on her face ('oops — I did it again, didn't I?'), the strings reaffirming the bond between master and pet ('yes, you did — but I still love you anyway, you silly girl!'), accompanying the affection-filled vocal:

When you find yourself in the thick of it,
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you...


Paul helped himself to whatever he could find round the studio, too. Everything else on the track was him, right down to the handclaps, exercising a level of control he clearly lacked over Martha — or, for that matter, over Jane, to whom much of the lyric was probably directed in reality:

You have always been my inspiration:
Please be good to me, my love;
Don't forget me, my dear...


And, in the case of their recent final rupture, it was Paul himself who'd been caught sniffing round places he shouldn't've been.

Silly boy!
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