To many, Paul McCartney's first solo Number One hit, 1971's “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is as confusing as it is infectious. While answering questions on his official website (PaulMcCartney.com), “Macca” shed light on what exactly a “butter pie” means.
McCartney admitted, “No, there’s no meaning behind it. Because I like surrealist art, I also like surrealist words. A great example of this is Lewis Carroll writing Alice In Wonderland — it’s a crazy thing, you've got a cat sitting in a tree that grins and talks, and you've got Alice falling down a hole and meeting the red queen, and so on. That whole tradition was something that I loved, and when I met John (Lennon), I learned that he loved it to. So, it was something that became a bond between us.”
McCartney went on to say, “I'd always liked writing love songs, ballads, and rock n' roll songs, but then one of my other little side interests was to invent surrealist stuff. Admiral Halsey was someone I’d read about — he’s a character from American history — and I just liked the name. I was playing around with that and making up a fictional story, and I just ran into the words 'and butter pie.' Well, there’s no such thing as a butter pie — that I’ve ever heard of anyway. So, it was a surrealist image, like in surreal art where you have a thing called a 'hair cup,' which is just a cup that’s made out of fur. You wouldn’t think to drink from it, it’d be disgusting, but as an image it’s interesting and shocking. 'Butter pie' is that kind of equivalent, but in a song.”
Drummer Denny Seiwell first worked with Paul McCartney during the 1970 and '71 sessions for Ram before signing on as the co-founding drummer for Wings. He recalled the recording for “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”: “I just remember the lunacy of it all. Y'know, it was, like, all these different sections. I mean, you just go for it. It was so much fun to play. I would listen to the lyrics, but I wasn't as influenced by the lyrics as I was by the material. Y'know, you could get a little goofy, and a little loose, and you can mess with the time, and you could do all this great stuff once you knew what the song body was all about.”