Sir Paul McCartney, Lifelong Fan of Using Wordplay and Liverpool Slang in His Music Over the Years

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

When you’ve released as much music over the decades as Sir Paul McCartney, you’re bound to inject a bit of creative license when it comes to lyrical content.

Paul and the Beatles were keen on doing that with much of their music, utilizing slang from home in Liverpool in a few songs and generally putting a bit of “nonsense” out there. In a new blog post on McCartney’s website, “Macca” discusses just that, after his website admins linked up with the man himself via Zoom.

(Click here to shop the Beatles in our Rock Cellar Store).

We dug through the archives here at and spotted a few ourselves, from the famous run-out groove on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to ‘Mumbo’ on Wild Life and ‘cranlock navel, cranlock pie’ in the Blackbird Singing poem ‘Ivan’. We chatted to Paul via Zoom to find out exactly where these unusual phrases come from…

Said Sir Paul regarding the above:

“When you are kids you make up silly things, and what’s great about it is you and your friends all know those silly things… So, they don’t have to mean anything! We had a few words and phrases that, if one of us said it, would amuse the others because it was like a secret code. So ‘cranlock naval, cranlock pie’ doesn’t actually mean anything.

“But I suppose at lot of this came from The Goon Show, a comedy show on the radio. Peter Sellers was in it, along with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine. They got laughs from saying things like, ‘Netty, oh Jim boy!’ And other nonsense, so ‘cranlock naval, cranlock pie’ fitted in with that era. We just used to say absolutely silly little things.”

Another otherwise unexpected phrase uttered in a Beatles song is “Chicka Ferdy,” which turns up in the Abbey Road song “Sun King,” lest you forget:

Explained Paul of that phrase:That was something that our friend Ivan would say. He’d be imitating stuff that John would say, and then everyone would just make up things together.

“There was a thing in Liverpool that us kids used to do, which was instead of saying ‘f-off’, we would say ‘chicka ferdy!’. It actually exists in the lyrics of The Beatles song ‘Sun King’. In that song we just kind of made up things, and we were all in on the joke. We were thinking that nobody would know what it meant, and most people would think, ‘Oh, it must be Spanish,’ or something. But, we got a little seditious word in there!”

Thanks to Paul McCartney and his website administrators for this fun little chat!

Related Posts