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View Full Version : Can anyone explain UNCLE ALBERT/ADMIRAL HALSEY to me?


Khadaji
06-21-2007, 04:53 PM
OK, I like the song, mostly nostalgia I guess, but I like it.

However, I listened closely to the lyrics today and I have no idea what is going on.

Is it just a bunch of nonsense lyrics or is there a deeper meaning?

MovieMogul
06-21-2007, 05:02 PM
It celebrates the hippie lifestyle: rejection of traditional family systems ("We're so sorry, Uncle Albert"), embracing laziness ("we haven't done a bloody thing all day"), spiritual togetherness with other cultures ("Hands across the water"), aimless vagabondery ("live a little, be a gypsy, get around") and free love ("the butter wouldn't melt so they put it in the pie").

Maybe.

robardin
06-21-2007, 05:07 PM
It means Paul McCartney didn't have John Lennon around to inject some real world cynicism to offset his peppy, bubbly and sometimes surreal or non-sequitur lyrics to go along with the catchy melodies.

AskNott
06-21-2007, 05:30 PM
It's typical of what he wrote in that part of his career. Some would say "in his entire solo career." He'd write three or four unrelated riffs, and he'd duct-tape them together. Who cares if it makes no sense? People will buy what he cranks out.

I personally think he's doing more coherent work these days than Uncle/Halsey.

Sampiro
06-21-2007, 05:32 PM
Intentionally nonsensical I think. McCartney loved taking random stuff and putting it to music- most famously was Scrambled Eggs which he later changed for Yesterday. My guess (this is speculation, not anything I've read) is that he probably heard something about Bull Halsey or Prince Albert's uncle or whatever and it stuck in his head for a moment and he inserted it into a song because it was the right meter; a moment later it might have been "so sorry Aunt Miranda" or "Seņor Picasso notified me").

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-21-2007, 05:48 PM
It means Paul McCartney didn't have John Lennon around to inject some real world cynicism to offset his peppy, bubbly and sometimes surreal or non-sequitur lyrics to go along with the catchy melodies.
John Lennon was hardly a stranger to lyrical surrealism and non-sequitur, or to fragmented musical constructions. See "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" (yes, it's nominally a Lennon-McCartney composition, but like most of the White Album material, it's obviously all one man's idea).

robardin
06-21-2007, 09:28 PM
John Lennon was hardly a stranger to lyrical surrealism and non-sequitur, or to fragmented musical constructions. See "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" (yes, it's nominally a Lennon-McCartney composition, but like most of the White Album material, it's obviously all one man's idea).
True, but there is a definite dark streak underlying "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" and "I Am The Walrus" ("bang bang shoot shoot", or "experts, experts, choking smokers, don't you see the joker laughs at you"), versus Paul's more lighthearted "hands across the water".

I actually do like his solo and Wings stuff, particularly Baby I'm Amazed and Band On The Run, but am rather disappointed that his "surreal non-sequitur constructions" are based on mundane things without any satirical or sarcastic undertone. That's not necessarily a knock, it's just not his bag, you dig? Where someone like Dylan is singing about how "I ain't goin' to work on Maggie's Farm no more", or someone like Hendrix how "if 6 turned out to be 9, I don't mind", Sir Paul is going on about how "the kettle's on the boil, and we're so easily called away". It's a catchy earwig of a tune, but at the end of the day, one that feels kind of empty.

(Hey, this is my 1000th post. Happy 1K to me, happy 1K to me, I won't pay a royalty, or any kind of fee.)

Thudlow Boink
06-21-2007, 09:43 PM
It's a catchy earwig of a tune, but at the end of the day, one that feels kind of empty.Maybe you're just not smoking the right stuff. :cool:

If John gets credit for a dark streak for "bang bang shoot shoot," does Paul get credit for a dark streak for "bang bang Maxwell's silver hammer"?


For what it's worth, UA/AH has always been one of my favorite McCartney songs. I'm not sure I can explain why, except that I do love a good "suite"-type song, and I'll take goofy, surreal, non-sequitur lyrics over banal, cliched, boring lyrics any day.

blondebear
06-21-2007, 09:58 PM
He'd write three or four unrelated riffs, and he'd duct-tape them together.Uncle/Halsey.I heard "Dance Tonight" and immediately thought: "Someone's knocking at the door...."

installLSC
06-22-2007, 12:13 AM
In an interview, McCartney stated 'Uncle Albert' refers to a real life uncle who "used to quote the Bible to everyone when he got drunk". Don't really know if that helps explain the song, though.

RumMunkey
06-22-2007, 08:37 AM
It means Paul McCartney didn't have John Lennon around to inject some real world cynicism to offset his peppy, bubbly and sometimes surreal or non-sequitur lyrics to go along with the catchy melodies.

I came in here to say "It was Paul trying to write I Am The Walrus without John... but robardin said it better than that.

Martha Medea
06-22-2007, 08:51 AM
I actually do like his solo and Wings stuff, particularly Baby I'm Amazed and Band On The Run...
I agree - but isn't it Maybe I'm Amazed?

gigi
06-22-2007, 10:14 AM
- most famously was Scrambled Eggs which he later changed for YesterdayPardon me? This sounds like an entry on one of those "make up a fib" threads. :) Upon searching, apparently this is common knowledge. Oops.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-22-2007, 12:39 PM
I agree - but isn't it Maybe I'm Amazed?
Martha, my dear, you are correct.

NDP
06-22-2007, 01:13 PM
Pardon me? This sounds like an entry on one of those "make up a fib" threads. :) Upon searching, apparently this is common knowledge. Oops.

No, it's true. However my understanding that McCartney was using "Scrambled Eggs" as dummy lyrics to fit the tune around until he thought of something better.

It's a common practice. Songwriters frequently use nonsensical lyrics as placeholders until they find the right phrase to put in.

Marley23
06-22-2007, 01:16 PM
No, it's true. However my understanding that McCartney was using "Scrambled Eggs" as dummy lyrics to fit the tune around until he thought of something better.
That's how I heard the story.

'Scrambled eggs...
Oh baby how I love your legs...'

And there was a bit in the second verse about "Have an omlette with some Muenster cheese/Leave your dishes in the washbin please..."

robardin
06-22-2007, 01:41 PM
Martha, my dear, you are correct.
Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.

MovieMogul
06-22-2007, 01:46 PM
'Scrambled eggs...
Oh baby how I love your legs...'
Hey since when has one become a peg?
My life's a yolk. Sweet scrambled eggs!"

Wee Bairn
06-22-2007, 02:05 PM
What are they sorry for, exactly? A flaming bag of doo on the porch? Stealing his pension?

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-22-2007, 02:57 PM
What are they sorry for, exactly? A flaming bag of doo on the porch? Stealing his pension?
Oh come on. They're sorry for not having done a thing all day, which apparently caused Uncle Albert pain. That much is pretty clear. Sounds like they were neglecting the poor old geezer. "We're so easily called away..."

Sublight
06-22-2007, 03:14 PM
It's typical of what he wrote in that part of his career. Some would say "in his entire solo career." He'd write three or four unrelated riffs, and he'd duct-tape them together. Who cares if it makes no sense? People will buy what he cranks out.

I personally think he's doing more coherent work these days than Uncle/Halsey.
From "Dance Tonight", released June 2007:
Everybody gonna dance tonight
Everybody gonna feel alright
Everybody gonna dance around tonight

Everybody gonna dance around
Everybody gonna hit the ground
Everybody gonna dance around tonight

It's more coherent than "Uncle/Halsey", and it's undeniably catchy, but lyrically he's in the same place he was when he wrote "Someone's knockin' on the door".

Thudlow Boink
06-22-2007, 03:25 PM
[i]Everybody gonna dance tonight
Everybody gonna feel alright
Everybody gonna dance around tonightActually, some of us were planning to wang chung tonight instead.

fishbicycle
06-22-2007, 03:25 PM
From "Dance Tonight", released June 2007:
Everybody gonna dance tonight
Everybody gonna feel alright
Everybody gonna dance around tonight

Everybody gonna dance around
Everybody gonna hit the ground
Everybody gonna dance around tonightYes, but that's the only disposable track on the album, IMO. When I heard the whole CD and my wife asked what I thought, my first reaction was "The single is piffle. But the rest is pretty good. I like it better than a lot of other albums he's done in 20 years."

The Scrivener
06-22-2007, 05:07 PM
For the record [no pun intended], here's the lyrics (http://lyricsfreak.com/p/paul+mccartney/uncle+albertadmiral+halsey_20105860.html).

I've always liked the song, if more for the music than the lyrics (but that's how it is for most of the music I like). I've long assumed it was intended partly as reflection of Anglo-American friendship and culture, from WWII on ("hands across the water" being a reference to Lend-Lease and America's eventual entry into the war, and using the UK as a massive staging ground). The "heads across the sky" is probably a reference to drugs, some spiritual insight, or both; it could also be an allusion to an [increasingly] unified Anglo-American youth culture, increasingly dominated by movies, music, fashion, and other mass-marketed diversions, filling our head-space, as it were. "Hands across the water" is an image that incorporates not just wartime alliance, but also friendships and free trade, as cemented by the handshake.

Of course, I could be wrong about all of this. But there's one manifestation of Anglo-American friendship that Beatle fans can't ignore -- the propensity for Beatles to pair up with American women! In 1971, when "UA/AH" came out, there were two such unions (John and Yoko, Paul and Linda), with George and Ringo still married to their English first wives. But in 1978, George married Mexican-American Olivia Arias, and in 1981, Ringo married Barbara Bach (formerly Barbara Goldbach, of Queens). If this was the type of Anglo-American union that Paul had in mind, then the "hands" could have been an allusion to hands joined in marriage.

Winston Bongo
06-22-2007, 09:11 PM
"He had to have a berth or he couldnt get to sea"? Really? And here I always thought it was, "He had to have a bath or he couldn't get to sleep." Which I like better.

Maybe I should head over to ye olde misunderstood lyrics thread . . .

BwanaBob
06-23-2007, 11:30 AM
Reminds me of a very old joke (from National Lampoon magazine).

Q: When did Paul McCartney write "Silly Love Songs"?
A: Since 1963.

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