Friday, July 17, 2009

The Making of "Hey Jude"

by Mal Evans

On Friday, July 26, John and Paul spent most of the day at Paul's house putting the final touches to their latest composition, "Hey Jude." The following Monday evening at EMI they began to rehearse it with George and Ringo.

The next night we had a load of film people in to take movies of the "Hey Jude" session at EMI for a 50-minute feature about the national music of Britain.

Then, on the Wednesday, we moved from EMI to Trident which is where the rest of the work was done on "Hey Jude." In fact a fresh version of the number was started from scratch with George on electric guitar, Paul on piano and Ringo playing the tambourine. To the first backing tracks Paul added his solo vocal and then the others joined him to put on the harmony stuff.

On Thursday, August 1, we imported a 40-piece orchestra, the largest group of accompaniment musicians we'd used since the Beatles did "A Day In The Life" for Sgt. Pepper well over a year ago. As you all know by now "Hey Jude" starts out as a plaintive ballad with Paul's voice well up in front of a fairly simple backing. Then the arrangement begins to build up towards an exciting climax. That's where the big orchestra came in. Mostly they just held single notes for long periods to underline and emphasise the whole atmosphere of the recording.

Towards the end of the evening we decided to make double use of the 40 musicians by asking them if they'd like to do a bit of singing and clap their hands. They were quite pleased to oblige and the entire orchestra stood up, clapped and sang their "la-la-la" bits under Paul's close supervision!

So "Hey Jude" was finished that night at the end of a highly spectacular session. The next day we went back to Trident to do the final "remix" job on the tapes and by Friday afternoon we had the first rough discs, the advance acetates as they are called, back up at the Apple offices for everyone to hear.

I can't go into great detail about most of the other July and August sessions just yet because they were all in connection with the next LP and the titles are still "hush-hush" until a bit nearer the release date. All I can say is that there's some terrific material on tape, more than half the LP is ready and the rest of the tracks are being done this month. Ringo has recorded two titles--the one he wrote himself and another which John and Paul did for him and which has a 30-piece orchestra, choir and even a harp on it! And, of course, there's a new George Harrison specialty. One of the new numbers Paul wrote turned into a 24-minute recording, a right old jam session, with John playing bass guitar just for a change. Doubt if it will still be 24-minutes long by the time it reaches the LP because it would fill most of one side if it did!

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