Hey Jude

OK- so the members of Fleetwood Mac had their fair share of difficulties with each other. The album Rumours was recorded at a time when marriages and long-term relationships between band members were breaking up, and when affairs between some of the same people and other band members were in full flow. This led to tensions on and off-stage, especially when people had to sing or play songs that had been written about them by someone else in the band.

But the Beatles weren’t far behind in terms of not getting on with each other, especially as the 1960s drew to a close. The famous number referenced in the title of this blog was originally conceived as Hey Jules, in the head of Paul McCartney as he drove to see his little friend Julian Lennon after his father John had left his mother Cynthia and run off with Yoko Ono.

McCartney, possibly to avoid wounding John’s fragile self-esteem, changed the lyric to ‘Hey Jude’. It worked, as indeed the first time John heard it he believed it to be a song about him, more specifically Paul’s way of giving the relationship between him and Yoko his blessing.

Paul initially planned to change the line ‘the movement you need is on your shoulder’. He didn’t like it. But when he played it for John that time, John told him it was the best line in the song, and to leave it. Its meaning remains unclear.

One more fun fact – on the night in August 1968 when it was finished, Paul brought the first copy of the song to a party being thrown by the Rolling Stones to celebrate finishing their album Beggars Banquet. Tony Sanchez was the DJ that night, and remembers Paul arriving with Hey Jude. He played it after the first airing of the new Stones album, and remembers Mick Jagger looking peeved, feeling upstaged by this new Beatles song.

It is best known for its ending – a 4-minute jam over the same 4 chords, and at over 7 minutes was at that time the longest song ever to reach no. 1 in the UK.

I have really enjoyed reading Craig Brown’s recent book about the Beatles – One Two Three Four – and indeed much of the info about this song quoted above comes from this book – specifically chapters 117-120.

Finally, Hey Jude is one of the all-time classic piano songs, and is the featured song on Piano With Kieran this week. You can find a free tuition video on how to play the melody of it here, and 6 questions designed to test your musical ear here.

I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.