Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

January 26, 2014

My Sick Song

Whenever I get sick and am laying in bed feeling like shit, 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey' by Paul McCartney pops into my head.  I have such a specific memory of hearing it during a pretty bad illness that it's become my 'sick song'.

It was the summer of 1977.  August 16, 1977 to be exact.  The reason I remember the date is that Elvis Presley died that day and I heard it on my transistor radio and was so shocked (not that I was a fan, I was only 12).  We were on our way to my parents' beach house to visit with the people renting it, who had kids my age.  It was a cool, cloudy evening and I really wasn't feeling up to playing on the beach in the cold sand. I remember telling my parents I didn't feel well but they were enjoying their visit and told me to sit or lay down for a bit.  I sat in a rocking chair with my knees drawn up to my chest.  My throat hurt so much I couldn't swallow and everything, i.e. the adults laughing and talking at the table, seemed abnormally loud and out of focus.  By the time we got home, my temperature had soared to 103*.

I lay on my bed in the dark room, listening to my clock radio.  Stations were playing a lot of Elvis, but interspersed with regular music.  "In the Ghetto" reminds me of that night too.  Then a song started, and I recognized it as Paul McCartney but I had never heard it before.  "We're so sorry, Uncle Albert...."  I lay there listening to it and thinking how strange the lyrics were, but it had a nice melody to it.  As the song progressed, I started to believe that I was so sick, I couldn't possibly be hearing this song right.

First we have the weird little telephone conversation, 'we're so sorry, Uncle Albert, but we haven't done a blimey thing, all day...'  Then the tempo picks up and it goes into the Admiral Halsey part of the song.  "Admiral Halsey notified me, he had to have a berth or he couldn't get to sea.  I had another look and I had a cup of tea and butter pie (butter pie? the butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie". Next they are singing, "Haaaands across the water (water), heaaaaads across the skyyyyyy"  Yeah, my temperature has to be through the roof by now.  Next part I hear is the semi falsetto, 'Live a little be a gypsy get around (get around), get your feet up off the ground, live a little get around'.  Yep, I'm dying.  I'm going to the hospital and I'm going to die.  If 'WTF' had been an expression in 1977, I would have thought that too. 

It took a week or so but I finally recovered from my bout with strep throat and forgot about the weird McCartney song as the regular Top 40 songs took over.  I don't remember how much time passed until I heard Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey again, but I was shocked...SHOCKED I SAY....that it actually sounded exactly the way I heard it.  Don't get me wrong, I love the song, it's fun and quirky and so typically McCartneyesque, but it's a pretty weird tune.  I think I can be excused for thinking I was hearing the song through a high fever fog.  

And that is why, every time I get sick, I think of it.  


18 comments:

  1. Omg. Thanks for this tune this morning! What a great way to start my day and my favorite line out of that song is the one about the butter pie! I love the voice. Omg, me n' my brother used to imitate this song all the time. What a great memory for me, not so much for you.. Aw, I'm sorry you thought you were going to die.. Lol.. Happy Sunday JoJo!

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    1. Isn't it a fun song? I do love it, it's one of my faves by him!

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  2. Feel better soon :)
    Very chilled song - must have been written during their hippy phase LOL!
    Suzanne @Suzannes Tribe
    xx

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    1. I guess it was released in 1971, which was right before I got my very first transistor radio. Yet I never heard it till 1977.

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  3. What a cool memory! I can honestly say I don't think I had ever heard that one before!! Course in 1971 I would have only been 3! Happy Sunday!

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    1. Way to make me feel OLD Kathy!!! lol!!!

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  4. Um yeah. That song is right out of my preteens... My sister who is four years older than me had our shared room FILLED with Beatles stuff... Too bad she didn't keep it all... She trashed it when they broke up. Even had a rug....

    Hope you're feeling better JoJo!

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    1. I am of the generation where Paul McCartney's band was Wings and he used to be in the Beatles. lol I'm still not sure how I never heard Uncle Albert till 1977, esp. since I was glued to my radio from 1972 on.

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  5. Have always loved that song, sorry it holds such a poor memory for you. Isn't it funny how you seem to hear the same music when you don't feel well?!? I hear "Rainy day people" by Gordon Lightfoot when I have a cold. But "Fly like an Eagle" by Steve Miller when I have a headache! Weird!!!

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    1. I LOVE Rainy Day People!!!!! Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who has 'sick songs'.

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  6. I'd never heard that song. It does stick with you, though - kind of depressing, twisted, chilling and beautiful too. Yeah, strange. I guess if there's a song to accompany your every sickness, you could do much worse.

    I hope you're not hearing this song - ie, you're feeling well - these days, JoJo.

    xoRobyn

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    1. When I drafted this, over a week ago, I was just getting over a bad cold and yes, this song was running around in my head the first couple of days.

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  7. Too bad Paul didn't get the memo that he is old. His dyes hair makes me cringe these days. Embarrassing!!

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    1. I didn't watch the Grammy's but I have to say that I find it a little embarrassing and pathetic when they trundle 'classic rock' singers/bands out to appeal to the parents age group of the kids watching. They're so not relevant to today's music and the awards.

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  8. I'm not a big fan of them but I know this song. Don't ask me how. Maybe my parents played it when I was small? And, now it's stuck in my head. Thanks JoJo! =)

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    1. LOL! My work here is done!

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  9. Hands across the water....

    I love that song! Next time I'm ill, I shall play it. In the meantime, I also have that song rattling in my head.

    Gary :)

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    1. I figure there are worse Paul songs to have in your head.....like 'wonderful Christmastime'. lol

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