Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney)

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Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney)

Written by Paul for John’s son Julian after the breakup and subsequent divorce of John and Julian’s mother Cynthia, John’s first wife. Paul has said that the words came to him in the car, while he was driving, going from “Hey Jules” to “Jude”. Paul was displeased with the line ‘The movement you need is on your shoulder’, thinking it to sound like he was singing about his parrot, but John convinced him that it was probably the strongest line in the song. John later commented that it was written for him subconsciously by Paul, saying for John to go ahead and leave him for Yoko.


“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 said, ‘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…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.” – Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now

“(Paul) said it was written about Julian. He knew I was splitting with Cyn and leaving Julian then. He was driving to see Julian to say hello. He had been like an uncle. And he came up with “Hey Jude.” But I always heard it as a song to me. Now I’m sounding like one of those fans reading things into it…Think about it: Yoko had just come into the picture. He is saying. “Hey, Jude” – “Hey, John.” 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.” – John Lennon, Playboy, 1980

“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 absolutely 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, f***! 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

Melody Maker article, 1968

Melody Maker article, 1968

Melody Maker article, 1968


  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, bass guitar, handclaps
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, acoustic guitar, handclaps
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, electric guitar, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – backing vocal, drums, tambourine, handclaps
  • Uncredited 36-piece orchestra – 10 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, 4 trumpets, 2 horns, 4 trombones, percussion instrument; 35 of these musicians on additional backing vocals and handclaps

Release dates

Chart performance

  • #1, September 11 – September 18, 1968 (2 weeks), Record Retailer (UK)
  • #1, September 28 – November 29, 1968 (9 weeks), Billboard (US)


  • Nominated for the 1968 Grammys for Record Of The Year
  • Song Of The Year
  • Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance; Duo or Group

Notable covers

  • Duane Allman (from Anthology)
  • Ella Fitzgerald (from Sunshine Of Your Love)
  • Grateful Dead (from 2-11-69 Live At The Fillmore East)
  • Wilson Pickett (from Greatest Hits)
  • Elvis Presley (from Suspicious Minds)
  • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (from I Second That Emotion)

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