A trio of lyrics for a Beatles composition has never been seen on the market before. Before the proliferation of photocopying machines, lyrics would have been written out by hand for use by all those present in the recording studio. After beginning life with the Beatles as road manager, Mal Evans would later assist the band in the studio and would often be given the job of writing out the lyrics [see lot 163]. It is likely that the third set would have been used by Mal himself in the studio as footage from Let It Be shows him striking an anvil for the Bang Bang sections during early verions of Maxwell's Silver Hammer.
Released on the Beatles' album Abbey Road, Maxwell's Silver Hammer was recorded on 9-11 July and 6 August, 1968. The song took three days of overdubbing and apparently caused considerable arguments amongst the band. McCartney insisted it was a possible single but Lennon disagreed. In fact, Lennon recalled later ...he did everything to make it into a single, and it never was and it never could have been..., Lennon also remarked in 1969 It's a typical McCartney single, or whatever. He did quite a lot of work on it. I wasn't on "Maxwell". I was ill after the accident while they did most of that track and I believe he really ground George and Ringo into the ground recording it. We spent more money on that song than any of them on the whole album, I think...
The song has a vaudevillian nature despite it's depressing subject matter, being a story about medical student Maxwell Edison, who uses his silver hammer to murder his girlfriend, then his teacher, and finally the judge during his murder trial. Paul McCartney commented on the song in 1994 ..."Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer. I don't know why it was silver, it just sounded better than Maxwell's hammer. It was needed for scanning. We still use that expression now when something unexpected happens... Later, when talking about his 2005 album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, McCartney said of his song-writing ...In the past I may have written tongue-in-cheek, like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer,' and dealt with matters of fate in a kind of comical, parody manner. It just so happens in this batch of songs I would look at these subjects and thought it was good for writing. If it's good enough to take to your psychiatrist, it's good enough to make a song of.
In The Anthology, McCartney says of his song-writing style ...some of my songs are based on personal experience, but my style is to veil it. A lot of them are made up, like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" which is the kind of song I would like to write. It's just a silly story about all these people I'd never met...The song epitomizes the downfalls of life. Just when everything is going smoothly - Bang! bang! - down comes Maxwell's silver hammer and ruins everything.
Lyrics for Beatles compositions hand-written in Paul McCartney's hand rarely surface on the auction market - these lyrics are originally from the collection of Barry Miles. The rest of Miles' collection was sold through these rooms in 1986 and included McCartney's lyrics for She came In Through The Bathroom Window.