Personal experiences are a common source of inspiration for songwriters. These memories include the coming and going of loved ones, happy and unhappy relationships, or just nice times shared by all. But occasionally, songs are created about made-up events. Taylor Swift, a well-known songwriter, has even created songs from viewpoints different from her own, most notably in the song “Betty” from the upcoming album “Folklore.”
Swift and Paul McCartney talked about their songwriting experiences in a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone. Swift’s songs often make it clear where their inspirations came from (or she will at least explain them elsewhere), but McCartney’s songs don’t always. One illustration is the song “Hey Jude,” which is actually about Julian Lennon.
Additionally, he revealed to Swift that the tune for “When I’m 64” occurred to him while he was a teenager having fun on his family’s piano. According to Showbiz Cheatsheet, McCartney wrote the song “Blackbird” while devoting a lot of thought to the American Civil Rights movement. Other Beatles songs were inspired by even stranger unexpected sources.
The Beatles issued “The Beatles,” a double album that is also referred to as “The White Album,” in 1968. The combined LPs are 93 minutes long, according to Newsweek, and feature well-known songs like “Dear Prudence,” which was written about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, while the two were traveling in India and the young woman was obnoxiously meditating, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Helter Skelter.” “Martha My Dear” is possibly a lesser-known song from this album. Paul McCartney avoided using identifying details while writing about romantic interests. Why then did he feel that was sufficient for this song?
The fact that Martha wasn’t a romantic partner might be the cause. The sheepdog owned by McCartney was named Martha. Before settling down in 1969 with his wife Linda McCartney, McCartney purchased Martha while residing in London. Martha was referred to by McCartney as “a cherished pet of mine” in the memoir “Many Years from Now.” He wanted the music to be interpretable in a variety of ways.
In 1968, Martha traveled with Paul McCartney on a recording session.
Paul McCartney described it as “a transmission of some form of affection, albeit in a slightly abstract sense” (via Beatles Bible). Fans saw it as a song dedicated to his ex-girlfriend Jane Asher. Years later, he finally revealed the real idea behind “Many Years from Now” According to the Beatles Bible, he first recorded the song solo before enlisting the help of Ringo Starr and George Harrison for the drums and guitar, respectively.
When McCartney recorded “Thingumybob,” the theme song for a nearby television program, in Yorkshire in 1968, Martha even went with him. McCartney and the Black Dyke Mills Band, who are also heard on the song, are seen in the photo of her above.
When one considers that McCartney has been an animal champion all of his life, the significance of “Martha My Dear” may seem less strange. In the 1970s, Paul adopted a vegetarian diet, and his late wife Linda McCartney wrote cookbooks on the subject. They shared ownership of dogs, horses, chickens, and geese between their houses in Sussex and Scotland.
Listen to the song here: