UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single August 26, 1968. It hit No. 1 within two weeks and held that position for three weeks. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
UNITED STATES: Released as a single August 26, 1968. It entered the Top 40 September 14, held the No. 1 position for nine weeks, and remained on the chart for nineteen weeks. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and Billboard
This was the Beatles' most successful single. It was a No. 1 hit in Holland, Ireland, Belgium, West Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden, with world sales totaling more than 5 million by the end of 1968 and 7.5 million by October 1972. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and Beatles Forever
Billboard published a special chart in 1976 which listed the biggest hits of the past two decades. "Hey Jude" placed second, behind Chubby Checker's "The Twist." Beatles Forever
McCartney said he was "worried stiff" while this song was being released because he wasn't sure whether it was any good. He said he isn't able to make that kind of critical distinction. RS (April 30, 1970)
"Revolution" was originally going to be the A side (it was recorded earlier) and "Hey Jude" was going to be the B side. But those plans were reversed. The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London
Lennon reluctantly agreed to relegate his song to the B side. Lennon : The Definitive Biography
"Hey Jude" was the Beatles' most successful single, selling more than 5,000,000 copies worldwide in six months; 7,500,000 in four years. It was number one in the USA for nine weeks, as well as going to number one in Britain and ten other countries. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
AUTHORSHIP McCartney (1.00)
McCARTNEY: "'Hey Jude' was a song which I originally thought of whilst driving my car out to visit Cynthia and Julian Lennon after John's divorce from them. We'd been very good friends for millions of years and I thought it was a bit much for them suddenly to be personae non gratae and out of my life, so I decided to pay them a visit and say, 'How are you doing? What's happening?' I was very used to writing songs on my way out to Kenwood because I was usually going there to collaborate with John. This time I started with the idea 'Hey Jules', which was Julian, don't make it bad, take a sad sang and make it better. Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing. I knew it was not going to be easy for him. I always feel sorry for kids in divorces. The adults may be fine but the kids ... I always relate to their little brain spinning round in confusion, going, 'Did I do this? Was it me?' Guilt is such a terrible thing and I know it affects a lot of people and I think that was the reason I went out. And I got this idea for a song, 'Hey Jude', and made up a few little things so I had the idea by the time I got there. I changed it to 'Jude' because I thought that sounded a bit better.
"I finished it all up in Cavendish and I was in the music room upstairs when John and Yoko came to visit and they were right behind me over my right shoulder, standing up, listening to it as I played it to them, and when I got to the line 'The movement you need is on your shoulder', I looked over my shoulder and I said, 'I'll change that, it's a bit crummy. I was just blocking it out,' and John said, 'You won't, you know. That's the best line in it!' That's collaboration. When someone's that firm about a line that you're going to junk, and he says, 'No, keep it in.' So of course you love that line twice as much because it's a little stray, it's a little mutt that you were about to put down and it was reprieved and so it's more beautiful than ever. I love those words now, 'The movement you need is on your shoulder.' Of course I now feel that those are terribly deep words; I've had letters from religious groups and cults saying, 'Paul, you understand what this means, don't you? The wherewithal is there, whatever you want to do ...' And it is a great line but I was going to change it because it sounded like a parrot or something; not entirely logical. Time lends a little credence to things. You can't knock it, it just did so well. But when I'm singing it, that is when I think of John, when I hear myself singing that line; it's an emotional point in the song.
"The end refrain was never a separate song. I remember taking it down to a late night hashish-smoking club in a basement in Tottenham Court Road: the Vesuvio club. We were sitting around on bean bags as was the thing. I said to the DJ, 'Here's an acetate. Do you want to slip it in some time during the evening?' He played it, and I remember Mick Jagger coming up: 'Fuckin' 'ell, fuckin' 'ell. That's something else, innit? It's like two songs.' It wasn't intended to go on that long at the end but I was having such fun ad-libbing over the end when we put down the original track that I went on a long time. So then we built it with the orchestra but it was mainly because I just wouldn't stop doing all that 'Judy judy judy - wooow!' Cary Grant on heat!" Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCARTNEY said he was idly singing "Hey Jules" while he was driving: "And then I just thought a better name was Jude. A bit more country and western for me." Beatles in Their Own Words
An influence on McCartney when he began writing this was the Drifters' "Save The Last Dance For Me."
Written at Cavendish Avenue, on the top floor, in Paul's music room. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCartney and Lennon finished writing the song at Paul's house, on July 26, 1968. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London
PAUL AS A LYRICIST
McCARTNEY, describing a demo tape he made of the song: "I remember I played it to John and Yoko, and I was saying, 'These words won't be on the finished version.' Some of the words were, 'The movement you need is on your shoulder,' and John was saying, 'It's great!' I'm saying, 'It's crazy, it doesn't make any sense at all.' He's saying, 'Sure it does, it's great.' I'm always saying that, by the way, that's me, I'm always never sure if it's good enough. That's me, you know." RS (January 31, 1974)
LENNON: ". . . Paul is quite a capable lyricist who doesn't think he is. . . . 'Hey Jude' is a damn good set of lyrics, and I made no contribution to that. A couple of lines he's come up with show indications he's a good lyricist, but he just never took it anywhere." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Rehearsed by all four Beatles on Monday, July 29, 1968, at Abbey Road. The next night they recorded it while being filmed for a feature about the music of Britain. On Wednesday they discarded that version and recorded the song again, at Trident Studios. On Thursday a forty-piece orchestra was used to hold single notes for long periods and to clap and sing the "na-na-na" chorus. (McCartney wanted a full symphony orchestra, but George Martin said booking one so quickly was impossible.) the final remix was done early Friday, and by the afternoon acetates were made.
McCARTNEY: "I remember on 'Hey Jude' telling George not to play guitar. He wanted to echo riffs after the vocal phrases, which I didn't think was appropriate. He didn't see it like that, and it was a bit of a number for me to have to dare to tell George Harrison - who's one of the greats - not to play. It was like an insult. But that's how we did a lot of our stuff." Musician (February 1985)
"The rule was whosoever's song it was got to say how we did the arrangement for it. That pissed him off . . ." Musician (October 1986)
McCARTNEY: " 'Hey Jude' was a very special take when we did it. In actual fact, Ringo was in the toilet. I started the song without drums, I thought he was in his drum booth. He heard me starting - 'Hey Jude, don't make it . . .' Hey, he does up his fly, leaps back into the studio, and he's creeping past me, I'm doing this take realizing the drummer is trying to make his way back to the booth. He makes his way very quietly, just got there in time for his entry, so it was kind of a magic take." Washington Post via Musician (February 1985)
McCARTNEY: "There is an amusing story about recording it. We were at Trident Studios in Soho, and Ringo walked out to go to the toilet and I hadn't noticed. The toilet was only a few yards from his drum booth, but he'd gone past my back and I still thought he was in his drum booth. I started what was the actual take, and 'Hey Jude' goes on for hours before the drums come in and while I was doing it I suddenly felt Ringo tiptoeing past my back rather quickly, trying to get to his drums. And just as he got to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was impeccable. So I think when those things happen, you have a little laugh and a light bulb goes off in your head and you think, This is the take! and you put a little more into it. You think, oh, fuck! This has got to be the take, what just happened was so magic! So we did that and we made a pretty good record." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
McCARTNEY: bass, piano, lead vocal
LENNON: acoustic guitar (Gibson J-160E), backing and harmony vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
STARR: drums, tambourine
The song begins with McCartney's piano and vocal and, after instruments are added one by one, concludes with about fifty instruments playing and a large number of voices. Beatles Forever
McCARTNEY: "I remember sitting down and showing George the song and George did the natural thing for a guitar player to do, which is to answer every line of vocal. And it was like, 'No, George.' And he was pretty offended, and looking back, I think, Oh, shit, of course you'd be offended. You're blowing the guy out. I said, 'No, no. You come in on the second chorus maybe, it's going to be a big build this.'
"That's the difficulty of a group. You are not the director bossing around a dance company where they naturally expect you to boss them around. You're just a guy in a very democratic unit; which a group, at best, is. We were all equal in voting, our status within the group was equal. We were joking when we made the Anthology: I was saying, 'I realise I was a bossy git.' And George said, 'Oh no, Paul, you never did anything like that!' With a touch of irony in his voice, because obviously I did. But it was essential for me and looking back on it, I think, Okay. Well, it was bossy, but it was also ballsy of me, because I could have bowed to the pressure." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
"Hey Jude" is the Beatles' longest single - 7:11 long - four minutes of which is the fadeout.
The single was the Beatles' first release on Apple. Beatles Forever
PETER BROWN, Beatles associate: "To help publicize the release of 'Hey Jude,' Paul decided to put the closed boutique at Baker and Paddington streets to some good use. Late one night he snuck into the store and whitewashed the windows. Then he wrote HEY JUDE across it in block letters. The following morning, when the neighbourhood shopkeepers arrived to open their stores, they were incensed; never having heard of the song 'Hey Juden' before, they took it as an anti-Semitic slur. A brick was thrown through the store window before the words could be cleaned off and the misunderstanding straightened out." The Love You Make : An Insider's Story of the Beatles
A promotional video was made at Twickenham Studios. The group was filmed for five hours, and about fifty to sixty invited fans participated in singing the long fadeout. The Beatles warmed up for their performance by playing versions of "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley" and other songs.
In the promo Lennon and Harrison are both playing instruments different from the ones they used during the recording session. Guitar (November 1987)
COMMENTS BY BEATLES
LENNON: "That's his best song." Hit Parader (April 1972)
LENNON: ". . . I always heard it as a song to me. If you think about it . . . Yoko's just come into the picture. He's saying, 'Hey Jude' - 'Hey John.' I know I'm sounding like one of those fans who reads things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me. The words 'go out and get her' - subconsciously he was saying, 'Go ahead, leave me.' On a conscious level, he 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 he didn't want to lose his partner." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono