Maggie Mae

Let It Be album artworkWritten by: Trad arr. Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey
Recorded: 24 January 1969
Engineer: Glyn Johns

Released: 8 May 1970 (UK), 18 May 1970 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, acoustic guitar
Paul McCartney: vocals, acoustic guitar
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Let It Be
John Lennon Anthology

A 38-second ad-lib recorded between takes of Two Of Us, Maggie Mae was taped during the third session for Let It Be.

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A traditional Liverpool folk song about a prostitute who robbed a sailor, Maggie May (as it is more commonly known) is believed to date from the early 19th century.

The Beatles’ recording took place on 24 January 1969 at their Apple Studios at 3 Savile Row, London. It is the second shortest song in the group’s official catalogue; the briefest being the same year’s Her Majesty.

John Lennon made a home recording of Maggie Mae, featuring just himself on acoustic guitar and vocals, in 1979. It can be heard on the John Lennon Anthology box set, released in 1998.

Lyrics

Oh dirty Maggie Mae
They have taken her away
And she never walk down Lime Street any more
Oh the judge he guilty found her
For robbing a homeward bounder
That dirty no good robbing Maggie Mae

‘Tis the port of Liverpool
They returned me to
Two pounds ten a week, that was my pay

7 responses on “Maggie Mae

  1. GeorgeTSimpson

    They should have released the medley with fancy my chances with you on let it be, i think it’s a better maggie mae recording plus the funny fancy my chances with you suitable to the back to basics thing (as it’s a pre-fame song)

  2. Mevo

    It seems to me, that it would be appropriate to mention, that Harrison’s part is, in fact, functionally the bas-guitar’s part (inspite the fact, that he plays the electric guitar). The fact is obvious for everybody, who studied the basics of musical theory and possesses the ear to hear :).

    P.S. Thanks a lot for your site. I’ve used it much writing the articles about Beatles’ songs for the russian wikipedia (of course, with a lot of references).

  3. mja6758

    “‘Tis the PORT of Liverpool…” if you’re hearing “part” that’s just Lennon’s exaggerated Scouse vocal. The traditional song is about sailors on shore leave finding long denied entertainment.
    Not sure about the next line either… it’s… something… can’t decide… “…turned/turns me tool” again fitting with the returning sailor making use of ladies of the night.

  4. Marty Guerre

    I always thought the lyric was “that no good, rotten lovin’ Maggie Mae.” That’s a very Lennony lyric and I think I like it better that way.

  5. Mimaroba

    Seems the Beatles Bible has forgotten the version on Let It Be… Naked, Fly On The Wall. It is shorter than the official release because it only features the first verse before it segues into Fancy My Chances. However, it is notable in that it only features John and Paul on acoustic guitars, both John and Paul share the vocals, and it is at a much faster tempo.

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