HomeSite Map
"Hey Jude" History
Search by Keyword

Search by Keyword

"HEY JUDE"

(John Lennon – Paul McCartney)

In 1968, it could easily have been said by many that the bloom of the rose that was the career of The Beatles had certainly seen its day and was in the process eventually of wilting away to nothing. As for their beginnings in America, their emergence in 1964 saw them holding down the entire Top Five positions on the Billboard singles chart on April 4th, 1964.  Nearly every subsequent single release thereafter had raced up the charts, either reaching the summit or nearly missing it.  Their live concerts consistently broke new ground with record breaking attendances.  Their growth in musicianship and songwriting paved the way for newer as well as already established acts to use as a template for their own success.

However, interviewers would regularly ask them when they thought the “bubble will burst” and their popularity would fade.  In 1966, concert attendance began to dip somewhat and then they decided to discontinue touring altogether.  The innocent pop songwriting that was expected of them gave way to mind expanding subject matter such as “Strawberry Fields Forever” which, at the time, left many die-hard fans disillusioned.  While 1967's “Sgt. Pepper” album was an artistic as well as commercial triumph, critics were merciless toward their “Magical Mystery Tour” film which was passed over entirely for American fans to witness at the time.  Their follow-up single, “Lady Madonna,” while a masterstroke in recorded music, failed to get any higher than #4 on the U.S. charts, which was quite uncharacteristic for them.  It appeared that maybe the “bubble” was indeed 'bursting.'


Then, on August 26th, 1968, The Beatles made the most remarkable comeback of their career, gaining back any naysayers who thought they'd already heard everything that the band had to offer.  Their new single, “Hey Jude,” released on their own new Apple Records with its stunning green label, took over the airwaves as well as our television screens.  The majority of music fans today who were alive at that time have vivid and cherished memories related to hearing the song, some remembering the first time they heard it. The impact was so great that it only took three weeks for it to reach #1 on the U.S. Billboard singles chart and stayed there for a remarkable nine weeks, becoming the most successful American single of their career.  It also ranked as the most popular record of the sixties, according to Billboard Magazine.

If anything had tarnished the reputation of The Beatles to any degree up to that point in history, they went way above and beyond to redeem themselves in most people's eyes with the release of “Hey Jude” in the fall of 1968.  And to this day, the respect generated by this one song is astronomical, and there is no hint of that respect abating any time soon.


John, Cynthia and Julian Lennon, circa early 1968

Songwriting History

"John and Cynthia were splitting up," Paul explains in the book "Anthology," "and I felt particularly sorry for Julian.  I had known them for so long.  We had hung out since John's art school days when I had a girlfriend called Dot and John had Cynthia, and we used to foursome it a lot and go to parties together. Since then, I'd seen them get married and seen them have Julian."

"I thought, as a friend of the family, I would motor out to Weybridge (John's former home with Cynthia) and tell them that everything was all right:  to try and cheer them up, basically, and see how they were.  I had about an hour's drive.  I would always turn the radio off and try and make up songs, just in case...I starting singing:  'Hey Jools – don't make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better...'  It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian:  'Come on, man, your parents got divorced.  I know you're not happy, but you'll be OK.'  I eventually changed 'Jools' to 'Jude.'  One of the characters in 'Oklahoma' is called Jude, and I like the name.”  On another occasion Paul stated: “I thought a better name was Jude.  A bit more country and western for me.”


Paul elaborates a bit more about this June 1968 drive to Weybridge in his book “Many Years From Now”: “'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...I was very used to writing songs on my way out to Kenwood because I was usually going there to collaborate with John...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.”

Cynthia Lennon vividly remembers this visit from Paul.  “During the divorce proceedings, I was truly surprised when, one afternoon, Paul arrived on his own.  I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare and even more moved when he presented me with a single red rose accompanied by a jokey remark about our future.  'How about it, Cyn?  How about you and me getting married?'  We both laughed at the thought of the world's reaction to an announcement like that being let loose.  On his journey down to visit Julian and I, Paul composed the beautiful song 'Hey Jude.'  He said it was for Julian.  I will never forget Paul's gesture of care and concern in coming to see us.  It made me feel important and loved, as opposed to feeling discarded and obsolete.”

It appears, though, that the entire song wasn't written to completion during that hour of driving. Paul's book “Many Years From Now” explains: “I finished it all up in Cavendish (Paul's home) and I was in the music room upstainrs 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 words 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.”

Like many other Beatles songs, such as “A Day In The Life,” “Baby You're A Rich Man” and “I've Got A Feeling,” many have thought that the elongated second half of the song was originally intended as a totally different composition that Paul decided to piece together.  Even Mick Jagger interpreted it that way, Paul saying that Mick approached him after first hearing it and said, “It's like two songs, man. It's got the song and then the whole 'na na na' at the end. Yeah.”  However, Paul sets the record straight.  “The end refrain was never a separate song...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 Grand on heat!

John Lennon's only input in the writing of “Hey Jude” may have only been his insistence on keeping the line about the movement “on your shoulder,” but he certainly thought a lot of the song nonetheless.  In 1972, when asked about the song's authorship, John exclaimed:  “That's his best song!,” and in 1980 he claimed it as “one of his masterpieces.”  And although he was adamant at the time that his song “Revolution” should be the next Beatles single, he wasn't all that upset that it ended up as the b-side to a song of the caliber of “Hey Jude.” In 1970 he explained, “I wanted to put (“Revolution”) out as a single, but they said it wasn't good enough.  We put out 'Hey Jude,' which was worthy.”

John insists, though, there is a deeper meaning to the lyrics.  “He said it was written about Julian...but 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.' But on a conscious level, he didn't want me to go ahead.  The angel inside 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 apparently had this opinion from the first time he heard it, as he stated in 1968:  “Well, when Paul first played 'Hey Jude' to me...I took it very personally.  'Ah, it's me,' I said, 'it's me.”  He said, 'No, it's me!'  I said, 'Check, we're going through the same bit.'  So we all are.  Whoever is going through a bit with us is going through it.  That's the groove.”  Paul's current discontent with his then fiance Jane Asher could easily be said to have been on his mind at the time the song was being written, Jane announcing on British television on July 20th of that year that their 5 1/2 month engagement was off.  And as Barry Miles explains in “Many Years From Now,”  “Both Paul and John were skilled at entering a half-trance state which enabled them to access material from their unconscious.  The lyrics are universal; many readings are possible.”  According to Bill Harry's book “The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia,” for example, even journalist Judith Simons of The Daily Express insists that the song refers directly to her, the 2014 Documentary "Hey Judy" highlighting this supposed fact!

Although the song can be interpreted in various ways, the message was clear enough to be embraced wholeheartedly worldwide.  As author Chris Ingham writes in “The Rough Guide To The Beatles,” it “clearly evolved into a song of encouragement to an adult not to be afraid to act on their feelings,” and described the forever fading conclusion as “an uninhibited terrace chant of encouragement, a veritable celebration of the excitement of letting go.”

"Hey Jude" must have been fairly close to being a completed song by the end of June, 1968 because Paul took it upon himself to test out this new composition to anyone who would be kind enough to listen.  One of these occasions was on June 30th, 1968, when he went into a local pub in a village in Bedfordshire to play the song to the patrons who happened to be there.  He would also premier the song in recording studios being utilized for recording other artists, such as The Bonzo Dog Band (during the recording of the McCartney produced song “I'm The Urban Spaceman”), The Barron Knights, and The Iveys (a band signed to Apple Records that would eventually become “Badfinger”).  However, according to Mark Lewisohn's book "The Beatles Recording Sessions," The Beatles took a break from recording sessions on July 26th, 1968, so that Paul and John could put "the finishing touches" on the writing and arranging of the song in preperation for their next session on July 29th, 1968.

Recording History

John Lennon's memory may have been a little sketchy when he was asked in 1968 about when he first heard "Hey Jude."  He stated, "When Paul first sang 'Hey Jude' to me, or played me the little tape he's made of it..."  This suggests that Paul may have made a home demo recording of "Hey Jude" and this is how John possibly first heard the song.  However, Paul vividly remembers first playing it to John in person as indicated above.  And since no home demo of "Hey Jude" has ever surfaced, it's most likely that Paul never made one and John was confusing this song with others around that time.

The first time the song was officially recorded was on July 29th, 1968, in EMI Studio Two, the session beginning at 8:30 pm.  George Martin had the night off, engineers Ken Scott and (new recruit) John Smith manning the recording process in what actually only turned out to be a rehearsal session for this new song that Paul had high hopes for as becoming their new single.


Nonetheless, six 'takes' of what they rehearsed were put to tape on this day, only three of which were complete versions.  'Take one' clocked in at 6:21, 'take two' was 4:30 long, and 'take six' came in at 5:25; the rest broke down early.  The instrumentation on these recordings were Paul on piano and vocals, John on acoustic guitar, George on electric guitar and Ringo on drums.

A faded down recording of one of these complete versions can be heard on the compilation album “Anthology 3,” George Harrison noodling around on lead guitar during the final minutes of the song.  A humorous introduction to the song is heard here, John saying “From the heart of the black country...” continued by Paul “...when I was a robber, in Boston Place, you gathered 'round me with your fond embrace...”  Boston Place, as explained in the liner notes for “Anthology 3,” was a small street in London where their newly formed Apple Corps. had just installed an electronics laboratory.  Slight differences in the lyrics can also be noted, especially the line “She has found you, go out and get her” instead of “You have found her.”

It appears that it was at the end of this session that Paul had a difficult interchange with George Harrison about the arrangement of the song.  “I remember sitting down and showing George the song,” Paul recalls in his book “Many Years From Now,” “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, sh*t,' 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.'”  In a 1985 interview, Paul explained:  “He wanted to do 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.”

In January of 1969, as captured in the “Let It Be” movie, Paul once again brings this very subject up as he once again is instructing George in how to play a current song, this resulting in George angrily exclaiming, “Whatever it is that will please you, I'll do it” and then temporarily quitting The Beatles for a few days!

Regarding the roles played by the band members regarding song arrangements, Paul continues in “Many Years From Now”:  “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 realize 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.”

In any event, this session was complete by 4 am the following morning, the only thing truly accomplished being a good part of the arrangement of the song.

Later that day, July 30th, 1968, The Beatles brought “Hey Jude” to EMI Studio Two for more work, the session shown to begin at 7:30 pm.  However it appears that, for various reasons, this session was not intended to officially capture the song to tape either.  The next three days were already booked for London's Trident Studios with intentions to record the song there with their eight-track recording capabilities, something that EMI Studios hadn't had in place yet.   Since a decision was made to utilize a large orchestra for the final minutes of the song, George Martin had already lined up the musicians to arrive at Trident Studios for a session two days later.  Also, a film crew from The National Music Council of Great Britain was scheduled to arrive at EMI Studios on this day to film the group recording the song (or appearing to) for a documentary entitled “Music!”  So, why not put on a good show for them?

In the process, seventeen further 'takes' of “Hey Jude” were put to tape, 'takes' 7 through 23, several hours of filming being done for this documentary with two small segments, running 2:32 and 3:05, making it to the finished product. “The film crew was supposed to work in such a way that no-one would realize they were there,” engineer Ken Scott recalls, “but of course they were getting in everyone's way and everyone was getting uptight about it.”  One person who did like the idea was Paul McCartney, who suggested doing the same thing on a larger scale.  A little over five months later, in early January of 1969, filming began for what eventually became the “Let It Be” project and movie.

One thing caught on film, making it to the released documentary, was George Harrison in the control room with George Martin and engineer Ken Scott, him being recently told by Paul that his services were pretty much not needed on the song.  It appears that he is still reeling from this turn of events, explaining his opinion to George Martin:  “You see, that's the difficulty, I find, because it's only a concept. 'Cause though his opinion says, 'No, it doesn't go like that, it goes like that,' but it goes like that and it goes through everything.  I mean, it can be, you know what I mean, just one bit of music can be pop, jazz, classic or whatever you're going to do to it, it is.

The recordings of “Hey Jude” done on this day consist only of Paul on piano and vocals, John on acoustic guitar and “nah, nah” backing vocals, and Ringo on drums with towels draped over the toms and snare drum to dampen the sound, something that he would use more regularly in later sessions.  At one point, as captured on bootlegs of this day, Paul leads John and Ringo into a rendition of a song entitled “I Hate To See The Evening Sun Go Down” in between takes of “Hey Jude.”  A tape reduction of the final take ('take 23') took that recording to takes 24 and 25, 'take 25' then being mixed into stereo for the purpose of giving to George Martin for him to use in arranging a simple orchestra score for the studio musicians to play two days later.  This session was complete by 3:30 am the following morning.

Now came the time to make a serious proper recording of “Hey Jude,” rendering all 25 previously recorded 'takes' of the song unsuitable.  July 31st, 1968 was the first scheduled Beatles recording session at London's Trident Studios, the session beginning at 2 pm. “Such independent studios were setting up all over London,” says engineer Ken Townsend. “They were really trying to attract work and were installing new technology which was leaving the EMIs and Deccas a bit behind.” Both Paul and George individually were already utilizing this independent studio for production work on artists recently signed to their new Apple Records, Paul producing Mary Hopkin and George producing Jackie Lomax.

Four 'takes' of the rhythm track were recorded on this day, the first one ending up being the best.  It was decided, apparently, that it would be best for the vocals to be recorded as overdubs so as to get the best performance possible, so the instrumentation fell to the usual Paul on piano, John on acoustic guitar, Ringo on drums, and George back on electric guitar.  According to Andy Babiuk's book “Beatles Gear,” George “played some melodic electric guitar lines at the end of each long verse.”  There was at least one overdub performed on this day, presumably another piano part played by Paul since this can be detected on the finished product.

In his book “Many Years From Now,” Paul recollects what transpired during the recording of 'take one' of “Hey Jude.”  “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 bulk goes off in your head and you think, 'This is the take!' and you put a little more into it. You think, 'Oh f#ck! This has got to be the take; what just happened was so magic!'  So we did that and we made a pretty good record.”

Although engineer Geoff Emerick was not present for this recording session, he relates an occurrence of this day that made it onto the finished product.  In his book “Here, There And Everywhere” he explains:  “Just after the start of the third verse, right between the lines 'The minute you let her under your skin / Oh, then you begin,' you can clearly hear Paul curse off mic, saying 'F#cking hell!'  (Engineer) John Smith had a vivid memory of John Lennon pointing that out when they were playing the tape back. 'Paul hit a clunker on the piano and said a naughty word,' Lennon gleefully crowed, 'but I insisted we leave it in, buried just low enough so that it can barely be heard.  Most people won't ever spot it...but we'll know it's there.'  That was just the kind of sophomoric humor Lennon was into, but I have to admit it's amusing to think that millions of fans have heard the record millions of times without ever realizing that it contains a dreaded four-letter word that was strictly taboo back in 1968.”

By 4 am the following morning, the session came to a close with a usable rhythm track to build on later that day.

August 1st, 1968, brought the recording of the classic song “Hey Jude” to it's conclusion.  The Beatles entered Trident Studios at around 5 pm to record various overdubs to the rhythm track recorded the previous session.  Paul overdubbed his bass guitar part as well as his lead vocal, then double-tracking it in spots, such as just after the line “now go and get her” in the third verse when you hear him practice the line “let it out and let it in, hey Jude.” John overdubbed harmony vocals during some verses while he, George and Ringo overdubbed backing vocals in the latter half of the song.  Ringo also put in a well heard tambourine overdub on this day.  By 8 pm all Beatles overdubs were complete.

At 8 pm the orchestra arrived for recording what was basically a backdrop of symphonic chords for the second half of this legendary song.  There were 36 instruments used but only two of their names are known to this day; Bobby Kok on cello and Bill Jackman on flute (the latter previously playing tenor sax on “Lady Madonna”).  Bill Jackman recalls, “We just played the refrain over and over, the repeated riff which plays in the long fade-out.”  George Martin's assistant Chris Thomas, who was also present on this day, remembers:  “The studio at Trident was long and narrow.  When we did the orchestral overdub we had to put the trombones at the very front so that they didn't poke anyone in the back!”  Interestingly, in order for the orchestra to have their own isolated track on the eight-track tape, Paul's bass guitar overdub was wiped at the point in the song where these musicians begin to play, the decision being made that the rich tones of the musicians would easily substitute for the lower frequencies on the finished recording.

Before they were allowed to leave, however, they were asked to participate further.  In his book “All You Need Is Ears,” George Martin relates:  “The only time we have had real objections from an orchestra was during the recording of 'Hey Jude,' the biggest-selling single of all.  I wanted them to sing and clap their hands as well as play, and one man walked out.  'I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song,' he said, in spite of the fact that he was getting double rates for his trouble.”  Although documentation shows that the orchestral performers were only booked until 11 pm, documentation shows the session extending to 3 am the following morning.  The cleaning crew came in, I guess.

Later that day, August 2nd, 1968, George Martin and Trident engineer Barry Sheffield took a crack at creating the first stereo mix of the now complete “Hey Jude,” or should I say three cracks, in the control room of Trident Studios between 2 pm and 1:30 am the following morning.  The third of these three attempts was viewed as the best at this point.

Then on August 6th, 1968, the same engineering team met again in the control room of Trident Studios from 5:30 to 7:30 pm to put together the first mono mix of the song. However, this was done in a most unusual way for the time, combining both channels of the stereo mix made from the previous session instead of going back to the original eight-track tape.  The single attempt for a mono mix was considered suitable at the time and was taken back to EMI as a possible finished master for release as their next single.

This mono mix was brought back to EMI Studios the following day, August 7th, 1968, and a tape copy was made in the control room of EMI Studio Two between 3 and 7:45 pm by George Martin and engineers Ken Scott and John Smith.  On the next day however, August 8th, 1968, shortly after the session began in EMI Studio Two at 6:40 pm, something unusual about this recording was discovered.

Engineer Ken Scott relates:  “I went to Trident to see The Beatles doing 'Hey Jude' and was completely blown away by it.  It sounded incredible.  A couple of days later, back at Abbey Road (EMI), I got in well before the group. Acetates were being cut and I went up to hear one.  On different equipment, with different EQ (equalizing) levels and different monitor settings, it sounded awful, nothing like it had at Trident.  Later on, I was sitting in (EMI Studio Two) control room and George Martin came in.  I said, 'George, you know the stuff you did at Trident?'  'Yes – how does it sound?'  I said, 'In all honesty, it sounds terrible!'  'What?'  'There's absolutely no high-end on it, no treble.'”

“Just then Paul McCartney came in and George said to him, 'Ken thinks 'Hey Jude' sounds awful.'  The look that came from Paul towards me...if looks could kill, it was one of those situations.  Anyway, they went down to the studio floor, clearly talking about it, and one by one all the other Beatles came in and joined them.  I could see them talking and then look up at me, and then talk again, and then look at me.  I thought, 'Oh God, I'm going to get thrown off the session.'  Finally, they all came storming up and said, 'OK, let's see if it's as bad as you say.  Go get the tape and we'll have a listen.'  Luckily, they agreed with me, it did sound bad.  We spent the rest of the evening trying to EQ it and get some high-end on it.  But for a while there I wanted to crawl under a stone and die.”

In his book “Here, There And Everywhere,” Geoff Emerick continues the story.  “It was about an hour or so later that George (Martin) spotted me in the hallway and asked me to help out...'Geoff, are you busy doing something right now?' he asked.  'No, I'm just on my way to dinner,' I replied.  'Ah, good,' he said.  'Would you mind coming in and having a listen to something?'  George opened the control room door and I saw four very unhappy Beatles gathered around a flustered Ken Scott, who was tweaking the controls of a piece of outboard equipment that we called a Curve Bender.  The song they were listening to was called 'Hey Jude'...the recording quality was poor, with no top end whatsoever.”

“When the playback ended, George said, 'I've got a visitor here who might be able to help.'  Paul was the first to spot me; he broke into a big grin and gave me a wave from the back of the room.  'Ah, the prodigal son returns!,' John called out brightly.  Even George Harrison gave me a warm handshake and said quietly, 'Hello, Geoff.  Thanks for stopping in – we really appreciate it.'”

“'The boys recorded and mixed this track at Trident a few days ago,' George Martin explained, 'and we're having a bit of difficulty getting it to sound right.  Would you mind having a go?'  Ken (Scott) looked up from the console.  'I listened to the tracks at Trident and they sounded fine,' he told me anxiously, 'but when we got back here...well, you can hear how bad it is.'  Obviously something at Trident had been misaligned, and the only hope of salvaging the mix was to whack on massive amounts of treble equalization.  I walked over to the console and Ken motioned for me to sit down.  John Smith rewound the tape repeatedly while I worked at the controls.  Eventually we got it to sound pretty good, although the track still didn't have the kind of in-your-face presence that characterizes most Beatles recordings done at Abbey Road...I might not have done anything that Ken himself wasn't doing – I think that all they really wanted was my stamp of approval.  All four Beatles thanked me profusely as I left.”

Three attempts at creating a mono mix was made on this day, numbered 2 through 4, by George Martin, Ken Scott and John Smith (with assistance from Geoff Emerick), the final one being considered the best.  Since this song was earmarked by the group for their next single, its length became a concern.  “It was a long song,” George Martin explained in the “Anthology” book.”  “In fact, after I timed it I actually said, 'You can't make a single that long.'  I was shouted down by the boys – not for the first time in my life – and John asked, 'Why not?'  I couldn't think of a good answer, really – except the pathetic one that disc jockeys wouldn't play it. He said, 'They will if it's us.'  And, of course, he was absolutely right.”

“It was longer than any single had been,” Paul mistakenly assumes in the book “Anthology,” the Richard Harris single “MacArthur Park” being released four months prior to “Hey Jude” in April of 1968, clocking in at 7:20 as apposed to “Hey Jude” at 7:11.  Paul continues:  “We had a good bunch or engineers.  We asked how long a 45 could be.  They said that four minutes was about all you could squeeze into the grooves before it seriously started to lose volume and everyone had to turn the sound up.  But they did some very clever stuff, squeezing the bit that didn't have to be loud, then allowing the rest more room.  Somehow, they got seven minutes on there – which was quite an engineering feat.”

The mono mix made on this day was the one used on the released single.  Sometime around 11 pm, attention went to recording the rhythm track of George's composition “Not Guilty” for inclusion on what became known as the “White Album,” although the song ended up getting omitted from the album's lineup.  At the end of the session, a tape copy was made of the mono mix of “Hey Jude,” as well as the previously recorded “Revolution” (both numbered 5 for some reason) to be taken away by George Martin.  The session finally ended at 6:30 am the next morning.

The next time The Beatles messed with “Hey Jude” was at Twickenham Film Studios in London on January 3rd, 1969, while rehearsing new material for what became the “Let It Be” movie.  This was nothing more than an impromptu run-through which never officially saw the light of day.

Flash-forward to December 5th, 1969, where attention finally went to creating a true stereo mix of “Hey Jude,” the earlier attempt at Trident being scrapped long ago.  The engineering team of George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald and Neil Richmond met in Room 4 at EMI Studios between 2:30 and 5:15 pm to create this stereo mix, as well as one for “Revolution,” for inclusion on the album “Hey Jude” which was to be released primarily in the U.S. (not the U.K.).  Two attempts were made for “Hey Jude,” numbered 20 and 21, the latter being deemed the best.  While most fans were eager to finally hear the song in vibrant stereo, the majority of them probably didn't notice that it was five seconds shorter than what they were used to hearing, this stereo mix being faded out at 7:06.

Sometime in 1996, George Martin and Geoff Emerick returned to the EMI master tapes of July 29th, 1968 to create a rare mix of an early take of the song for inclusion on “Anthology 3.”  George and his son Giles Martin then went back to the master tape for the released version of the song to create a newly mixed, but shorter version (clocking in at 3:58) for inclusion on “Beatles Love.”  Giles Martin then brought the same tape out again sometime in 2015 to create yet another vibrant mix of the song to be included on a newly released version of the remarkably popular album “Beatles 1.”  

Paul recorded various versions of “Hey Jude” during his solo years, mostly from his tours as released on live albums.  The first was recorded on February 12th, 1990 in Cincinnati, Ohio, this version appearing on “Tripping The Live Fantastic” and its companion album “Tripping The Live Fantastic: Highlights!”  Various versions of the song were recorded during tour rehearsals in 1995, including humorous mock/parody versions, that were heard broadcast during Paul's 1995 radio show "Oobu Joobu," these versions never being officially released.  Sometime between April 1st and May 18th, 2002, a live version of the song was recorded in New York City for release on the American live album “Back In. The U.S.”  Sometime between November 2nd and 5th, 2002, a live version was recorded in Mexico City for inclusion on his live album “Back In The World.”  Then, sometime between July 17th and 21st, 2009, another live rendition of the song was recorded at Citi Field in New York to be a selection on the album "Good Evening New York City."

Home  ·  About The Author  ·  Contact Us  ·  References  ·  Links
Copyright © DKR Products Toledo, Ohio
webmaster@beatlesebooks.com