Uncle Albert - Admiral Halsey

Album: Ram (1971)
Charted: 1
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  • Albert is Albert Kendall, who married Paul McCartney'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 Good Book 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 the American bebop trumpeter Marvin Stamm.
  • "Uncle Albert - Admiral Halsey" was the first single from McCartney's second solo album, Ram, and the only one to do much damage on the charts. His first album was the stripped-down McCartney, released a year earlier. Both albums took some stick from critics who complained that they didn't compare to his Beatles output and didn't rise to the level of the solo material his ex-bandmates were putting out (like George Harrison's seminal All Things Must Pass), but the albums aged well, and in 2012 Ram got a remastered release. In 2021, Denny Seiwell, who played drums on the album, and David Spinozza, who played guitar, put together a tribute version called Ram On with Marvin Stamm returning to play flugelhorn on this track.
  • Commenting on "Uncle Albert Admiral Halsey," John Lennon said: "I liked the beginning. I liked the little bit of 'hands, across the water,' but it just tripped off all the time. I didn't like that bit."

Comments: 66

  • Bob Ian Carter from South AfricaHarry from Sunnyvale. Paul is a Gemini, not cancerian by the way.
  • Toner from CanadaUncle Albert is Albert Hoffman the chemist who invented LSD
  • Becky from WvI always thought the Uncle Albert part was about children playing and then being bored and set Uncle Alberts house on fire when they put the kettle on to boil, killing him or at the very least harming him and burning down his house. Ah.... childhood....
  • Sheldon Adamiak from YoDoes John Cleese speak in Uncle Albert song
  • Rusty Jones from Yeehaw Junction, FlHarry from wacko Commifornia, you're on a 12 month vacation with your anaylsis. Somehow you tied your anti-Semitism with 3 month vacations and a Paul McCartney song, Yeah it all make sense now man.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenAlways sounded to me like Paul was making the phone dialing noises by fluttering his tongue.
  • Mitch from GeorgiaAnother song by a genius. I went to Admiral Halsey Jr High as a kid and had no idea it was named after a US naval hero. So much for NYC education. Also I am somewhat a Zionist and had no idea we ran the US government. Boy have I been in the dark all these years. What the hell does all this have to do with great music anyway?
  • Line from CanadaAdmiral Halsey is also a reference to WWII http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Halsey,_Jr.
  • Line from CanadaI know I am wrong but, in the beginning my English was very bad. And I kept thinking this was about Albert Einstein and the Bomb. Because Einstein grieved a lot when he saw what the A-bomb had done... I know it's thunder, but to me it sounded like an explosion...
  • Nancy from Millington, NjI thought the one part was: Admiral Halsey, come to find Pete. He had to have a buzz or he couldn’t get to sleep. I had another munk and I had a cup of tea and a pot of pie. pot of pie…..the putter of it melts so fine in the pie….all right
  • Rayna from Pembroke Pines, FlI think Don Paolo is singing "I believe I'm going to REIGN," R-E-I-G-N, as in rule, as in be responsible for the household.
  • Crayola from Knoxville, TnI thought the lyrics were:

    "Admiral Halsey notified me. He had to have a bath or he could get to sleep."
  • Paul from Montgomery , AlWhen I first heard this song it came on the radio without introduction, it was so Beatle sounding I got very excited because I thought the Beatles had gotten back together. This song is very British with the ''I had cup of tea and a butter pie" lines like Penny Lanes reference to a '' motorcar" and not wearing a "Mac" in the pouring rain and the US doesn't have many "roundabouts"either.
    Hands across the water refers to an old expression of America and England reaching out to each other across the poI nd.
  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaAfter WWII, Europe reaction to fascism was to give labor and not corporations (the ruler's of fascism) more benefit, and so Europeans enjoy 3 month vacations and generous other benefits, as in universal health care. The US, however, was given the same consideration, as the US is controlled by a hostile Jewish crime organization known as Zionist, and so kept what was going on in Europe out of US media. Paul's reference to his uncle and the Admiral is a mixed up metaphor of the US and how the US works it's citizens more than Europe, so Paul is telling the US how the Europeans are all laid back taking 3 month vacations, where Paul didn't know the history behind the two country's disparity.

  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaEven though the Admiral in the song is a reference to Admiral Halsey in the US Navy, I always thought, given the era that the song came out, that it was a metaphor for Uncle Sam and the US in general. Hands across the water could be astrologically connected to Paul's sun sign of Cancer and the sign ruling the hands. Heads across the sky is the experience one usually has with psychedelic drugs, like marijuana and LSD, with gives spiritual insight, similar to what American Indians and peyote.

  • Steve from Whittier, CaVERY fun song and original suite. Yes, the second part was about a WWII admiral.7/4/12
  • Olivia from Philadelphia, PaThis song has great memories!
  • Veronica from New York, NyI got a huge kick out of this song; love the absurd British humor. But ever since I was a little girl, I thought she (Linda?) was saying "Pot of pie?" and that Paul's response was "The pot it wouldn't melt, so we put it in the pie." Ha ! As in maryjane brownies ! :D
  • Kitty from Council Bluffs, IaWhen I was little, I always thought Uncle Albert was in an old folks home and most of his family never visited. His favorite nephew disappeared one day and Uncle Albert's sister came just to see if he'd seen the boy but she couldn't visit and was crying (raining) from worry over the boy. The boy's father called just to say they hadn't found him but he couldn't be bothered to talk more...too busy.
    (optimistic ending): The boy had made his way to the old folks home and snuck Uncle Albert out then they ran away on a boat to live free (Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer style).
    (pessimistic ending): Uncle Albert was talking to a nurse or aide about things that may or may not have happened (Admiral Halsey); slowly letting his mind go since no one really cared about him anyway.

    (Please be kind; remember this was the interpretation of a child. Looking back, I think it wasn't too bad a one).
  • Ken from Louisville, KyPaul said he used the name "Admiral Halsey" because he thought it had a nice, lyrical quality about it. No other reason. It sounded good and was easy for him to write around.
  • Angelyn from Newburgh, NyThis is one of my favorite solo works by Paul. I have been listening to it since I was a little girl back in the 70's. However, this is not a Wings' song. Paul had not formed Wings yet.
  • Scotty from Cheyenne, WyJust a FYI on Larrie's explanation...Halsey wasn't present at Pearl Harbor. He had the aircraft carrier Enterprise at sea looking for any sign of Japanese activity (see Tora,Tora,Tora)
  • Cameron from Aberdeen, United KingdomI wonder if this was the inspiration for Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses. He was in the navy as well.
  • Robin from Brisbane, AustraliaLarrie Woodcock seems to have got it. Quote:
    I always believed it was about the Japanese invation of Pearl Harbour. "Hands across the ocean" are the Navy (all hands on deck) patroling the Pacific and ther "Heads across the sky" are the Japanese Zero pilots with their bandanas on their heads in kamikazi fashion. I also believed the storey went: Admiral Halsey was taking a bath and having breakfast before he went to report for duty that fateful morning while the look outs were phoning in that there was nothing going on. These frustrated lookouts where making coffee at the time the planes flew over their location, making it impossible to report in effectively. "the kettles on the boil and we're so easily called away"

    It makes complete sense if you consider that Uncle Albert refers to Albert Einstein, and the misuse of his advances in physics to bomb Japan. Hence, "we're so sorry".
  • Lonnie from North Liberty, InIs there any truth to the rumor of uncle albert being albert hoffman-the inventor of L.S.D. ??? I just turned my 3 kids onto all things Beatles!
  • Neal from Fayetteville, Nc, NcThe flugelhorn (not trumpet) solo lines that precede "Hands across the water were played by Marvin Stamm, a famous jazz trumpet player. I asked Marvin about it and he said that he never met McCartney. The vocals and rhythm tracks were recorded in London. The additional material, like Marv's flugel bits, were overdubbed onto the master in NYC. Same for Tom Scott's soprano sax solo on "Listen Tp What The Man Says", only Scott's solo was overdubbed in Los Angeles. Tom Scott also toured with Wings and also with George Harrison in the 70's.
  • Larry from Huntsville, AlI have no idea what or where this song is going. All I know is I can't help but sing along with it and when I'm done I'm laughing and in a great mood. What more could you ask from a song?
  • Julia from Richland, WaAwesome song!! It's so random (yes,like me ,okay?) and that's why I like it. (i wonder what butter pie would taste like... OH, LOOK!! A BIRDIE!!!)
  • Mike from Little Rock (for Now), Arfyodor---I swore the same for years that the voiceover part of Uncle Albert was John Cleese. Great impersonation if not him! Wings gets ripped on by hardcore Beatle fans, but their songs created some of the best memories I had of being a child of the 70's! Cheers to all.
  • Glenn from Auckland, New ZealandI believe that Paul has never performed this song live. I used to wonder what Paul was "on" when he wrote the lyrics to the song. This song is quite clever, but also so corny in parts, which just adds to the brilliance of it.
  • Homzd from O-town, NvThis song reminds me of the classic Beatles tune "Golden Slumbers" as it has many of the same twists and turns as that song. Both are virtually three songs in one.
  • Nady from Adelaide, Australiabahahahahaha this song is wonderful!!! "haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaands across the water (water) haaaaaaaaaaands across the sky" everything about it is so perfectly random, love the gypsy bit THIS IS MY KIND OF SONG!!! heh heh gotta love big Paul xxx
  • Stacy from Willow Park, TxHave always loved this song & really challenged to figure out the lyrics & their meanings...(I was pre-teen when it came out) I have thought for a while now that after the line "Butter Pie? The butter wouldn't melt so I put it in a pie." was followed by a very quickly inserted "On with your orders!" through clinched teeth...?
  • Scott from Kings Park, NyThis song is simple, but it's all over the place...typical of the later Beatle songs. The only concert I took my mom too at MSG in NY!
  • Kevin from Reading , PaIf this were a Beatles song it would be regarded as a true classic. It has all the makings of a Fab Four in terms of production, sound, construction . . . but, being a solo song, it will never really attain the lofty position it deserves. Ditto for Lennon's "Mind Games," Harrison's "What is Life" and some other solo singles from the early 70s.
  • Brian from Medway, OhI always thought the mumbled bit right after the line "the butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie" was simply "well, alright"
  • Jay from Ottawa, CanadaUncle Albert and My Love are IMO the best songs the Wings have put out.
    Jay, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Joe from Brooklyn, NyDoes anyone know what he mumbles after "The butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie"? Any ideas?
  • Susan from Tampa, Fl"butter pie? butter pie? the butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie" great!!! also is that Linda doing the female voice at that part?

    random, creative, not predictable yep sounds good to me!
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesSo, this song was a collaboration of two unfinished songs? That's why "Admiral Halsey" has nothing to do with "Uncle Albert"? Ah, what suspense! Perhaps that's the same reason for the Fifth Dimension collaboration of "Aquarius" and "Let the Sunshine In". And probably the same reason for Queen's own "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". Well, Queen's two sections there have a slight relation to one another. Oh, yeah, the Fifth Dimension mentioned planets and stars in only one section and the sun in the other, but both sections have to do with stuff outside Earth's gravitational field. But I think it's interesting that "Uncle Albert" and "Admiral Halsey" have no relation, only suck together as one song.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesOops, I left out the "T" in "stuck". My bad!!
  • Larrie Woodcock from Waterloo, CanadaI used to watch tons of WW11 movies and documetaries as a kid and put this together with my passion for the Beatles lyrics.
    I always believed it was about the Japanese invation of Pearl Harbour. "Hands across the ocean" are the Navy (all hands on deck) patroling the Pacific and ther "Heads across the sky" are the Japanese Zero pilots with their bandanas on their heads in kamikazi fashion. I also believed the storey went: Admiral Halsey was taking a bath and having breakfast before he went to report for duty that fateful morning while the look outs were phoning in that there was nothing going on. These frustrated lookouts where making coffee at the time the planes flew over their location, making it impossible to report in effectively. "the kettles on the boil and we're so easily called away"
  • Sarah from Lookout Mountain, GaTo Fyodor, from Denver,
    The actual voice on the recording was actually Paul McCartney with a high pass filter on his voice...
    " They recorded the telephone section [of the song] over at CBS, as well. That character voice was also Paul, with a simple highpass filter engaged to give the telephone effect.? (http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_paul_mccartneys_uncle/)
  • Madalyn from Greensburg, Pawhen i was little my dad used to play this all the time it is a very good memory for me and i love the part "live a little be a gypsy get around" wonder melodys and punchlines one after the other....love the rain sound effects...o by the way in my world (my carzy mind) this song has been on top of the Lala you wish for weeks!! what a catchy tune...i hope won day i will get to meet paul McCartney.
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaI love this song! It has that same sort of humourous bizarre feel that you can hear in the Beatles song "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)."
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI really liked the randomness in the end of this song.
  • Tommy from Flanders, NjWell I was close.
  • Doug from Philadelphia, PaAdmiral Halsey was a Admiral in the American Navy , Tommy
  • Tommy from Flanders, NjAdmiral Halsey was an Admiral in the British Navy in World War II.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI've wondered if the spoken voice through the phone is John Cleese. Sounds a lot like his voice to me. I once googled his name and the song and found no direct info, but I did find someone saying they were very happy to learn that John Cleese would participate on a tribute album version of the song! Hmmmm....
  • Barry from New York, NyThis was recorded in October 1970 in New York City.
  • Jonathan from Johnstown, PaThis & Too many people are the only songs From Ram I Know!!!!
  • Tommy from Flower Mound, TxActually Don, you are probably thinking of Uncle Ernie. His name was mentioned "Let 'Em In", not Uncle Albert.
  • Don from Newmarket, CanadaUncle Albert is also mentioned in "Let Em In".
  • Reggie from Santa Ana, CaI love this song! It reminds me of I Am The Walrus because it is so random. Paul McCartney rocks.
  • Kristina from Small Town, NeI love it because it just Paul being Paul. Slightly unpredictable and goofy. "Live a little be a gypsy get around, lift your feet up off the ground live a little get around." :)
  • Tommy from Flower Mound, TxGreat song! This song always reminds of a trip to my aunt's house. 1: I had first started memorizing this song during that trip. 2: It was raining and thundering outside. No wonder this song went to #1 in the USA.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyPaul chose different songs from his Ram album to be singles in the U.S. and the UK. He chose "Uncle Albert" for the U.S. because the American audience liked "patchwork" songs and because "Admiral Halsey" was a famous World War II U.S Navy admiral. For the U.K., he released "Back Seat Of My Car", which most critics thought was the best song on the album.
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaTo this day, I cannot help but laugh when he gets to the muttered line, "The butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie!" Yes, it's a bit silly, but that's precisely the point.
  • Kalissa from New York City, NyRight on, Paul from TX!!!
  • Susan from Anchorage, AkI was 13 in 1972. We drove 50 miles to Nashville to do some shopping. While at Service Merchandise my Dad said I could pick out a 45 rpm record. I selected American Pie by Don McLean. When I got home I played both sides. This song was on the B side. The song is very smooth and has some unusual elements. I liked the song and I noticed over the years, it has never gotten much play.
  • Paul from Arlington, TxEvery Part of this Song is great From The begining to the End!!! And if any other people say otherwise it's just their lesser musically minded opinion.
  • Kristen from Aurora, IlI love this song after the sorry Uncle Albert stuff. Great song <3 to Paul!!
  • Baba from New York, Nythe phone ringing sound is actually paul mimicking a phone...
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaThe silly horn riff that dominates this song is emblematic of this period in McCartney's career during which his work was so corny he almost seemed to be defying radio and listeners to call him on his shameless self-indulgence.
  • Kelly from Los Angeles, CaLoooove this song!
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