The song was pretty close to its final form when McCartney wrote these lyrics down on Apple Corps stationary, but he did cross out a few words in the second verse and make tiny corrections.
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” which centers around a deranged murderer named Maxwell Edison who kills his victims with a hammer, was penned in late 1968 during the writing sessions for The White Album. The band didn’t attempt to record it until the January 1969 Get Back sessions. These efforts are seen in the recent documentary The Beatles: Get Back, and one take can be heard on Anthology 3.
The Beatles didn’t get a satisfactory version until the sessions for Abbey Road in July 1969, and it took them several long days of work. “The worst session ever was ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” Ringo Starr told Rolling Stone in 2008. “It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad.”
These handwritten lyrics were initially sold by Christie’s in 2006 to Texas bookstore owner Bill Butler for $192,000. It’s unclear if they’ve stayed in his hands over the past 16 years.
Paul McCartney, meanwhile, is returning to the road April 28 in in Spokane, Washington, for a long run of shows at American arenas and stadiums. His shows are always packed with Beatles classics, but don’t expect to hear “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” He hasn’t sung the song since the Abbey Road sessions back in 1969, although he did deliver a spoken-word rendition at New York City’s 92nd Street Y in 2001.