Hey Jude – Greatest Song Since 1960s

Hey Jude

Overview

Hey Jude - Greatest Song Since 1960s
Hey Jude – Greatest Song Since 1960s

Hey Jude” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a non-album single in August 1968. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership.

The single was the Beatles’ first release on their Apple record label and one of the “First Four” singles by Apple’s roster of artists, marking the label’s public launch.

This song was a number-one hit in many countries around the world and became the year’s top-selling single in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada.

Its nine-week run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 tied the all-time record in 1968 for the longest run at the top of the US charts. It has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on music critics’ lists of the greatest songs of all time.

The writing and recording of the song coincided with a period of upheaval in the Beatles. The ballad evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, after Lennon had left his wife for the Japanese artist Yoko Ono.

The lyrics espouse a positive outlook on a sad situation, while also encouraging “Jude” to pursue his opportunities to find love. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a coda featuring a “Na-na-na na” refrain that lasts for over four minutes.

It was the first Beatles song to be recorded on eight-track recording equipment. The sessions took place at Trident Studios in central London, midway through the recording of the group’s self-titled double album (also known as the “White Album”), and led to an argument between McCartney and George Harrison over the song’s guitar part.

Ringo Starr later left the band only to return shortly before they filmed the promotional clip for the single. The clip was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and first aired on David Frost’s UK television show.

Contrasting with the problems afflicting the band, this performance captured the song’s theme of optimism and togetherness by featuring the studio audience joining the Beatles as they sang the coda.

At over seven minutes in length, “Hey Jude” was the longest single to top the British charts up to that time. Its arrangement and extended coda encouraged many imitative works through to the early 1970s. In 2013, Billboard magazine named it the 10th “biggest” song of all time in terms of chart success.

McCartney has continued to perform “Hey Jude” in concert since Lennon’s death in 1980, leading audiences in singing the coda. Julian Lennon and McCartney have each bid successfully at auction for items of memorabilia related to the song’s creation.

Hey Jude - Greatest Song Since 1960s
Hey Jude – Greatest Song Since 1960s

Inspiration and writing

In May 1968, John Lennon and his wife Cynthia separated due to his affair with Japanese artist Yoko Ono. The following month, Paul McCartney drove out to visit the Lennons’ five-year-old son Julian,  at Kenwood, the family’s home in Weybridge.

Cynthia had been part of the Beatles’ social circle since before the band’s rise to fame in 1963;  McCartney later said he found it “a bit much for them suddenly to be personae non gratae and out of my life”.

Cynthia Lennon recalled of McCartney’s surprise visit: “I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare … On the journey down he composed ‘Hey Jude’ in the car. I will never forget Paul’s gesture of care and concern in coming to see us.”

The song’s original title was “Hey Jules”, and it was intended to comfort Julian from the stress of his parents’ separation. McCartney said, “I knew it was not going to be easy for him”, and that he changed the name to “Jude” “because I thought that sounded a bit better”.

According to music journalist Chris Hunt, in the weeks after writing the song, McCartney “test[ed] his latest composition on anyone too polite to refuse. And that meant everyone.”

On 30 June, after recording the Black Dyke Mills Band’s rendition of his instrumental “Thingumybob” in Yorkshire, McCartney stopped at the village of Harrold in Bedfordshire and performed “Hey Jude” at a local pub.

He also regaled members of the Bonzo Dog Band with the song while producing their single “I’m the Urban Spaceman”, in London, and interrupted a recording session by the Barron Knights to do the same.

Ron Griffith of the group the Iveys – soon to be known as Badfinger and, like the Black Dyke Mills Band, an early signing to the Beatles’ new record label Apple Records – recalled that on one of their first days in the studio, McCartney “gave us a full concert rendition of ‘Hey Jude'”.

Release

[The Beatles] are confident and cheerful and the human condition will be thrilled by the coming results of their willing and enduring Beatle bondage … they will give all of us new wonders to soothe our pain.

– Derek Taylor, “Hey Jude” press release, August 1968

“Hey Jude” was released on 26 August 1968 in the United States and 30 August in the United Kingdom, backed with “Revolution” on the B-side of a 7-inch single.

It was one of four singles issued simultaneously to launch Apple Records – the others being Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days”, Jackie Lomax’s “Sour Milk Sea”, and the Black Dyke Mills Band’s “Thingumybob”.

In advance of the release date, Apple declared 11–18 August to be “National Apple Week” in the UK,  and sent gift-wrapped boxes of the records, marked “Our First Four”, to Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family, and to Harold Wilson, the prime minister at the time.

The release was promoted by Derek Taylor, who, in Doggett’s description, “hyped the first Apple records with typical elan”.

“Hey Jude” was the first of the four singles, since it was still designated as an EMI/Parlophone release in the UK and a Capitol release in the US, but with the Apple Records logo now added.

In the US, “Hey Jude” was the first Capitol-distributed Beatles single to be issued without a picture sleeve. Instead, the record was presented in a black sleeve bearing the words “The Beatles on Apple”.

In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, he said “Hey Jude” was worthy of an A-side, “but we could have had both.” In 1980, he told Playboy he still disagreed with the decision.

The song was first released on an album in February 1970, as the title track to Capitol’s North American compilation Hey Jude.

Hey Jude Lyrics

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad

Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders

For well you know that it’s a fool
Who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her (let it out and let it in)
Remember to let her into your heart (hey Jude)
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with

And don’t you know that it’s just you
Hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na, yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better
Better better better better better, ah!

Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude

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