Hey Jude - The Beatles

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"Hey Jude" - The Beatles (1968)

Recorded in July 1968, Lennon said “Hey Jude” was “one of Paul’s masterpieces.”

When he first heard it Lennon took it very personally and thought it was about him. In 1980, he said the song was written about his son Julian- although he still believed it was about him and Yoko. He remarked:

He is saying, ‘Hey, Jude’ --- Hey John, Subconsciously, he was saying, ‘Go ahead, leave me.’ His conscience didn’t want me to go ahead. The angel in him was saying ‘Bless you.’ The devil in him didn’t like it at all, because didn’t want to lose his partner.”

McCartney said “Hey Jude” was directed at himself as he believed the end of the Beatles would mean him having to forge ahead with new band mates.

During the recording of the track he told George not to play guitar as he wanted to do echo riffs after the vocal phrases. He admitted that it was like an insult telling Harrison not to play, but added:

"That’s how we did a lot of our stuff.”

He brings up a story during the recording of the song where Ringo went to the bathroom and he hadn’t noticed he was gone as the drum booth wasn’t far from the toilet. As the drums don’t come in until late in the song he felt (saw) Ringo tiptoeing past him, trying to get back to his drums.

McCartney remembers:

“Just as he got back to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was absolutely impeccable.”

Says Beatles scholar Ken Womack:

Paul’s vocal performance gestures towards the sublime. John and George’s harmony vocals are equally superb—particularly Lennon’s doubling of McCartney’s lead vocal during the final verse.”

Adds musicologist Tim Riley:

“The suppleness of Paul’s voice couldn’t be sweeter as he caresses the words, soaring though the contours of a line as if in free flight, hugging its curves and gliding on its plateaus. Like all great singers, he invites the listener into the song without conceit; the artistry lies in the seeming ease with which he greets us.”

The song was number one for nine weeks and sold eight million copies in just over two months. Despite eight-track recording being commonplace in the US and widely since the late 50s-early 60s- "Hey Jude" was the first Beatle song recorded using eight track recording technology. The mystery as to why Abbey Road studios were so far behind what was being used in the US at the same time has never been explained.

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