Question about "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"

In the first verse of the song, “Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine” calls Joan up and invites her out to the pictures, as an excuse to show up at her door with a silver hammer and take her out in an entirely different sense. “Back in school again,” Max is being made to write out lines on the blackboard. Somehow I doubt premeds are spending a lot of time copying lines so - is Maxwell Edison a fake name that Max, a murderous little boy, came up with? Or are the Beatles just playing fast and loose with the US educational system?

What makes you think it’s a US system? :wink:

It doesn’t say that he was writing the lines on the board. It says the teacher told him to stay after class, that he wrote the lines fifty times, and that he then killed the teacher.

My guess is that he wrote the line over and over in his notebook while he was waiting for the class to end, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. It was a description of his compulsions not a description of a classroom punishment.

If I’m not mistaken, Britons don’t “major” in things. I may be mistaken though.

Wait, what? “Back in school again, Maxwell plays the fool again; teacher gets annoyed. Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene, she tells Max to stay when the class has gone away. So he waits behind, writing 50 times “I must not be so”.”

I’ll admit I don’t have any idea what the OP is asking, but this seems like a pretty straightforward line.

meep. I’m just asking whether Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine, is a real person (in the universe of the song) or a fake name that a little kid named Maxwell made up to crank call a girl before murdering her.

A serial killer studying medicine seems not unlikely, even at age 12 (or whatever he may be).

I never could figure out this song, and it seemed strange that we had to sing it in 7th grade chorus.

Clearly, Maxwell Edison is Dexter Morgan’s pseudonym.

I doubt, when Paul was writing the song, he gave much thought to it other than that it scans well and sounds cool.

People love analysing song lyrics as if they were some kind of coded message from the Gods, which - if correctly decoded - will impart great wisdom. They’re not. It’s not meant to make perfect sense, it’s meant to sound good.

Okay, but “medicine” isn’t a major, pataphysics isn’t a science, courtrooms don’t let defendants attack judges, hammers aren’t made of silver – the whole thing has one foot in apparent reality and the other foot in unmitigated nonsense.

I’d certainly say real, in the loopy universe of the song. The only thing that might be associated with a little boy is the writing fifty times. There’s nothing that suggests using a fake name, and everything else (studying medicine, asking a girl out to the movies, being tried in court) points to an adult.

Overall, methinks you’re giving this too much thought. On preview, I think Shakester has explained it pretty well.


Allegorical, maybe metaphorical
Maxwell is a stone,
Cast unforeseen into the pool of

As soon as things are going to plan,
You fall out of the blue

Bang! Bang! Random circumstances
Can really take their toll.
Clang! Clang! Random circumstances
Can block you from your goal.

(My deepest apologies to Paul, but that’s what he claims it’s about–that is, it’s not about a preteen or pre-med serial killer. Mostly.)

It’s just an absurd little song of the sort that would have appeared in music hall’s at the time Paul’s father was a lad. It is not internally consistent, it has no hidden meaning, it isn’t realistic, and it makes as much sense as “I Am the Walrus.” It’s just fun.

Yeah. Everyone knows Maxwell didn’t have a Silver Hammer.

He had little Silver Demons.
And he killed by suddenly altering the temperature without violating thermodynamics.

Truly Evil. And undetectable.

I thought the second verse was a flashback to when Maxwell was in elementary school, when he was assigned a punishment of writing something 50 times on the chalkboard, but in anger, kills the teacher.

Next up: Lovely Rita. Was she really a meter maid, or a hooker that was into costumed affairs?

Elanor Rigby - did she keep her entire face in a jar or just parts? And was Father McKenzie’s entire congregation deaf?

Lady Madonna, public breast feeding. Discuss.

Cobain’s obsession with guns in lyrics were a bit of foreshadowing I didn’t need woven into his otherwise-word-soupy lyrics…