Besides learning how to play Hey Jude in this ukulele video lesson, I'll give you a little background behind this song. Hey Jude is remarkable in many regards. First and foremost, of course, it was written by one of the best-known rock bands of all time – perhaps the best-known rock band of all time – and has the distinction of being the longest song ever released as a single up until that time. The total track length of the original is 7:11, far longer than most radio stations would normally allot for a single song.
The song was originally released in August 1968. It was the first song ever released on Apple Records, the record label owned by the Beatles. The song was written by Paul McCartney, who later performed it on piano for John Lennon who then collaborated to finish the song.
The song, even though it was roughly twice as long as the average radio single of the time, would end up spending 19 weeks in the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It is generally regarded as one of the Beatles most distinctive and best written songs, very notable for the catchy refrain that dominates the ending minutes of the song.
According to Rolling Stone, Hey Jude was originally written for John Lennon’s son, Julian. At the time that the song was written, John Lennon and his wife Cynthia had broken up. McCartney was very close to John’s son Julian. He wrote the song to comfort the child as the entire inner circle around the Beatles was going through major shifts. The title of the song was changed to Jude, owing to Carty’s love of musical theater and being a variation on the name Jud, a character who appears in the musical Oklahoma!.
According to Julian Lennon, he and Paul McCartney had actually been closer than Julian and his own father. He did not know, however, that the song was actually written for him until 1987, when Paul McCartney told him about it when they were staying at the same hotel, according to Song Facts.
Interestingly, according to the same source, John Lennon initially interpreted the song to be about him. When Paul McCartney played Hey Jude for Lennon the first time, John assumed that the line “if you want her go out and get her” was Paul telling John to go ahead, divorce his wife and go after Yoko Ono.
According to Rolling Stone, as was the case in creating many of the Beatles finest songs, recording Hey Jude was not without some tension. The lush orchestration on the song comes from a 36-piece orchestra that was brought into the studio to provide additional weight to the music. One of the musicians refused to go along with the clapping and sing-along part at the end of the song, saying that he was a violinist and that he would not perform in that way.
Within the band itself, George Harrison’s guitar playing became a point of contention between him and McCartney. McCartney wanted him to back off a bit, saying that the guitar playing was taking away from the verses. This resulted into some significant conflict between the musicians.
The same source also mentions that, when they actually started recording the song, Ringo Starr was in the bathroom. Because the drums don’t come until very late in the song, however, Ringo was able to get back in the room and play his parts as they had been written.
Hey Jude is notable for its constantly building structure and the four minutes of refrain that cap off the end of the song. The spontaneous feeling to the ending is not accidental. McCartney just kept going and going with it, as he was having fun performing the piece at the time.Return to Home Page
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