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Hey Jude

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The original US 45 of

The original US 45 of "Hey Jude"

source: ebay.com

Hey Jude

Written by: Paul McCartney (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: July 31, 1968; August 1, 1968 (Trident Studios, London, England)
Mixed: August 2 and 6, 1968
Length: 7:11
Takes: 1
Musicians: John Lennon: harmony vocals, rhythm guitar (1963 Gibson "Super Jumbo" J-200)
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass guitar (1961 Fender Bass VI), piano (C. Bechstein)
George Harrison: harmony vocals, lead guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), tambourine
Bobby Kok: cello
Bill Jackman: flute
Unknown orchestra musicians: violins (ten), trumpets (four), trombones (four), violas (three), cellos (three), double basses (two), flutes (two), clarinets (two), horns (two), bass clarinets (two), bassoon, contrabassoon, percussion
First released: August 26, 1968 (US: Apple 2276), August 30, 1968 (UK: Apple R5722)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • Hey Jude, (US: Apple SW 385, UK: Parlophone PCS 7184)
  • The Beatles 1967-1970 (UK: Apple PCSP 718, US: Apple SKBO 3404, Apple CDP 0777 7 97039 2 0)
  • Past Masters Volume Two, (Parlophone CDP 7 90044 2)
  • The Beatles 1 (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2)
Highest chart position: US: 1 (nine weeks beginning September 14, 1968); UK: 1 (two weeks beginning September 11, 1968)
History:
  • One of the few Beatles compositions to be written directly about, and for, a personal associate, "Hey Jude" was composed by Paul McCartney to John's son, Julian, on the occasion of John's impending divorce from his first wife (and Julian's mother), Cynthia. Paul and Julian had always been close -- indeed, closer than Julian and his father had been -- and he knew that John's new relationship with Yoko Ono, along with John's desire to distance himself from his old life, had to be hitting the younger Lennon (then age 6) pretty hard. Paul composed the melody and basic lyrics for the song en route to Cynthia's home in Weybridge, where he often visited, during June of 1968. When he returned home that day, he recorded a demo version on his piano. It was originally titled "Hey Jules," but Paul thought "Jude" would be easier to sing.
  • When he presented the song to the band, John immediately pronounced it the best thing he'd ever written, and fought to get it on the a-side of the group's next single, allowing his own "Revolution " to move to the b-side. Paul originally intended many of the lyrics, especially the line "the movement you need is on your shoulder," as mere placeholders, but John insisted they were perfect just as they were, and there they stayed.
  • The band recorded a rehearsal of the song at Abbey Road on July 29 and 30, 1968, as part of a planned single session right in the middle of sessions for their next LP, eventually known as "The White Album," but were soon convinced to re-record the whole thing at Trident Studios across town; Trident, which the band learned had fully functional eight-track recording. (Abbey Road studios had just gotten an eight-track system, but it was not completely operative.) The basic track was recorded on July 31, the orchestra overdubs, clapping, and "na-na-na"s of the lengthy coda recorded on August 1. (Part of the rehearsal was filmed for a BBC documentary simply entitled Music!; the footage features George playing bass, though he does not play on the final recording.) Four takes were recorded, but the first was deemed best and used for the overdubbing.
  • During recording, Paul and George became involved in a famous argument over the arrangement of the song: George wanted to echo each of Paul's lines in the verse with an accompanying guitar flourish, as John had done in the rehearsal. Paul didn't see the song this way, and told George so, leaving the guitarist with a chip on his shoulder that would last through the rest of his days as a Beatle. In the end, George's contribution to "Hey Jude" is heard mainly in phrases on the bridge.
  • Ringo took a bathroom break during the recorded take of this song, but managed to finish up and quietly work his way back to the drum kit just in time to begin his part.
  • The orchestra assembled for "Hey Jude" included two musicians who are known by name: Bobby Kok, a cellist, who went on to become a good friend of George's, appearing on his Cloud Nine album, and Bill Jackman, who had played baritone sax on "Lady Madonna," now sitting in on flute. The other members are largely lost to obscurity. When, in an effort to recapture the spirit of "A Day In The Life," Paul asked the orchestra musicians to sing and clap along with the song (for double the money, mind you), one blustered, "I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song!" and stormed out. The rest complied.

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