Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
Single by Paul and Linda McCartney
from the album Ram
B-side "Too Many People"
Released 2 August 1971 (US only)
Format 7"
Recorded 6 November 1970
Length 4:49
Label Apple
Writer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
Certification Gold
Paul and Linda McCartney singles chronology
"Another Day"
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"
"The Back Seat of My Car"
Ram track listing

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. Released in the United States as a single on 2 August 1971,[1] but premiering on WLS the previous week (as a "Hit Parade Bound" (HPB)),[2] it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971,[3][4] making it the first of a string of post-Beatles, McCartney-penned singles to top the US pop chart during the 1970s and 1980s. Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1971 year-end chart.[5] It became McCartney's first gold record as a solo artist.

Elements and interpretation

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" is composed of several unfinished song fragments that McCartney stitched together similar to the medleys from the Beatles' album Abbey Road.[6] The song is notable for its sound effects, including the sounds of a thunderstorm, with rain, heard between the first and second stanza, the sound of a telephone ringing, and a message machine, heard after the second stanza, and a sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda's voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the "Admiral Halsey" portion of the song.

McCartney said "Uncle Albert" was based on his uncle. "He's someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing."[7] McCartney also said, "As for Admiral Halsey, he's one of yours, an American admiral", referring to Fleet Admiral William "Bull" Halsey (1882–1959).[7] McCartney has described the "Uncle Albert" section of the song as an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored.[8]

Despite the disparate elements that make up the song, author Andrew Grant Jackson discerns a coherent narrative to the lyrics, related to McCartney's emotions in the aftermath of the Beatles' breakup.[9] In this interpretation, the song begins with McCartney apologizing to his uncle for getting nothing done, and being easily distracted and perhaps depressed in the lethargic "Uncle Albert" section.[9] Then, after some sound effects reminiscent of "Yellow Submarine," McCartney claims that Admiral Halsey - who had passed away on August 15, 1959 - notified him that he (Admiral Halsey) needed a "berth" in order to get to "sea" (mixing up Uncle Albert, not an admiral,and who would need a berth to get to sea, with Admiral Halsey, an admiral who would not need a "berth", but rather a "command" to get to sea), although McCartney remains more interested in "tea and butter pie."[10] McCartney stated that he put the butter in the pie so that it would not melt at all.[9] The "hands across the water" section which follows could be taken as evocative of the command "All hands on deck!", rousing McCartney to action, perhaps to compete with Lennon.[9] The song then ends with the "gypsy" section, in which McCartney resolves to get back on the road and perform his music, now that he was on his own without his former bandmates who no longer wanted to tour.[9]


Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song.[11][12] The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[13]

According to Allmusic critic Stewart Mason, fans of Paul McCartney's music are divided in their opinions of this song.[14] Although some fans praise it as "one of his most playful and inventive songs" others criticize it for being "exactly the kind of cute self-indulgence that they find so annoying about his post-Beatles career."[14] Mason himself considers it "churlish" to be annoyed by the song, given that the song isn't intended to be completely serious, and praises the "Hands across the water" section as being "lovably giddy."[14]

On the US charts, the song set a songwriting milestone as the all-time songwriting record (at the time) for the most consecutive calendar years to write a #1 song. This gave McCartney eight consecutive years (starting with "I Want to Hold Your Hand"), leaving behind Lennon with only seven years.

Later release

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" appears on the Wings Greatest compilation album released in 1978, even though Ram was not a Wings album (both this song and the Ram album are credited to 'Paul and Linda McCartney').

It appears on several solo Paul McCartney compilations; the US version of All the Best! (1987), as well as Wingspan: Hits and History (2001), and on both the standard and deluxe versions of Pure McCartney (2016).


Song uses

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1971) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[15] 5
Canadian RPM Top 100 Singles[16] 1
Mexican Singles Chart[17] 3
New Zealand[18] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] 1
West German Media Control Singles Chart[19] 30

Year-end charts

Chart (1971) Rank
Australian KMR[20] 67
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[21] 14
U.S. Billboard Top Pop Singles[17] 22


Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[22] Gold


  1. McGee 2003, p. 195.
  2. "89WLS Hit Parade". Oldiesloon.com. 1971-08-02. Retrieved 2013-12-21.
  3. Billboard. Booksgoogle.com. 11 July 1970. p. Front cover. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  4. 1 2 "Allmusic: Paul McCartney: Charts & Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. "Top Pop 100 Singles" Billboard December 25, 1971: TA-36
  6. Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone: a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 46, 50. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
  7. 1 2 McGee 2003, p. 196.
  8. Benitez, V.P. (2010). The Words and Music of Paul McCartney: The Solo Years. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-313-34969-0.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Jackson, A.G. (2012). Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of The Beatles' Solo Careers. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810882225.
  10. Drury, Bob, Halsey's Typhoon, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007, page 283
  11. "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  12. "1971 Grammy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  13. 1 2 3 Mason, S. "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-12-25.
  14. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. "Top Singles - Volume 16, No. 5". RPM. 18 September 1971. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  16. 1 2 Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). Billboard – Talent in Action 1971. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  17. Steffen Hung (2016-09-26). "New Zealand charts portal". Charts.org.nz. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  18. "Single Search: Paul and Linda McCartney – "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  19. Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  20. "RPM 100 Top Singles of 1971". RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  21. "American single certifications – Paul Mc Cartney – Uncle Albert". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH


Preceded by
"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by Bee Gees
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
4 September 1971 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Go Away Little Girl" by Donny Osmond
Preceded by
"Sweet Hitch-Hiker" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Canadian "RPM" Singles Chart number-one single
18 September 1971 2 October 1971 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Maggie May" by Rod Stewart
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.