"Hey Jude" is the Ultimate '60s Anthem
"Hey Jude" topped the US pop charts for virtually the entire summer of 1968, which was the crest of the '60s spirit. After the song had been on sale for a week, they filmed a "promotional film" of a performance of the song. It was not their first promotional film - perhaps their most famous and artistically most successful was one for "Penny Lane" in 1967 - but it is one of their most famous.
|Filming the video for "Hey Jude."|
As told by Paul McCartney, who wrote "Hey Jude" pretty much alone (despite the joint songwriting credit with John Lennon), the idea came to him during a drive to see Lennon's son, Julian. It was a long drive to Weybridge, and Cynthia Lennon had just separated from John, so it was a kind of sentimental journey to see old friends who had been "cast out" of the club. Paul later changed the title from "Hey Jules" to "Hey Jude" because "it sounded better." Hey, sentimentality is one thing, but business is business. This also is one of those songs for which McCartney has given multiple sources of inspiration (he once told Lennon it actually was written about himself), but the story about Julian Lennon is the generally accepted version. "Hey Jude" also was Paul's first song written and released after he began dating Linda Eastman (later McCartney) in June 1968.
"Hey Jude" is important in the history of Paul McCartney for another reason. It was the first release of Apple Records, the record label formed by the four members of the group. Imagine that - the very first release by the label was one of the most successful songs in music history! Well, I guess if you look at the glass as half empty, then that meant it was all downhill from there. Also, it marked the first song recorded with Lennon's new girlfriend, Yoko Ono, in the room. It was recorded in 25 takes on 29 and 30 July 1968 and released on 26 August 1968.
|Paul with young Julian Lennon, and a handwritten lyrics sheet.|
"Hey Jude" spent nine weeks at No. 1 in the United States and ultimately sold eight million copies. The Beatles recorded the promo video after the song had been out for a week in the United States. Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed the video performance at Twickenham Film Studio. They gathered 300 people, including whatever number of fans were waiting outside (there were always fans waiting outside in those days). The 300 people all joined in for the finale (but the only Beatle actually singing was Paul, because the group was lip-synching to the already-released single and none of them had to sing). Like virtually all of the Beatles' promo films, it was shot in color despite the paucity of color television sets in England at the time.
In terms of chart performance, "Hey Jude" is the most successful Beatles song. The song also is very long at 7:11, though many radio stations chopped several minutes off the run-time to avoid the most repetitive part. Importance is measured by more than statistical artifacts since all statistics are broken eventually just by sheer chance, and "Hey Jude" is a very important cultural touchstone. Paul still performs "Hey Jude" in concert and it appears to be his choice as an anthem when such is called for.