BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Music
Listen Live.

 Full Schedule

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Hey Jude
The Beatles
listen to song bar
The Beatles

In 1968 ‘Hey Jude’ became the first record to appear on The Beatles’ own Apple label. It was primarily a Paul McCartney composition - and John Lennon later admitted that ‘Hey Jude’ was his favourite McCartney song.

Even by Beatle standards, the song was a daunting achievement: at 7 minutes and 11 seconds, it was the longest single to hit #1 in the UK and USA and in America, it stayed at the top for nine weeks - the longest run of any Beatle hit.

Petula Clark
Paul McCartney talks about the reasons behind the lyrics.

The Sam Cooke-style verse chords couldn’t be plainer, but oh what a tune. The leap to the root octave on ‘song’ and the delayed resolution of the final ‘better’ each time, create an exhilarating sense of melodic freedom. The emotions intensify during the bridge, with its descending bass line and neatly arranged instrumental transitions. And the full-blooded outro chant is now one of the most famous lines in all music.
Dominic King

Looking back, Paul McCartney recalled quite clearly the circumstances surrounding the song’s composition: “I was driving out to see Cynthia Lennon… it was just after John and she had broken up, and I was quite mates with Julian. I was going out in my car just vaguely singing this song, ‘Hey Jules, don’t make it bad…’ Then I thought a better name was Jude, a bit more country and western for me.”

From such simple beginnings ‘Hey Jude’ developed into arguably the most ambitious Beatle single ever - a 40 piece orchestra was recruited for the recording, all of whom were drafted in for the four-minute choral “na, na, na, na…’ fade-out.

Only three months after The Beatles’ version, Wilson Pickett had a UK and US hit with the song - and it was eventually covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley. Today, ‘Hey Jude’ still remains among McCartney’s own favourites - and one that he played to great effect during his triumphant 2003 tour.

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: Mark Lewisohn (Hamlyn, 1988)
Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now: Paul McCartney & Barry Miles (Secker & Warburg, 1997)

Your comments.The opening chord sequence demands attention and makes me feel time stands still.

Christopher Evans

Make a comment

Songwriting tips

See if you can find a perfect partner in our tips on collaboration.
Read about the business behind the songs.
Test your knowledge

Know your Macca from your Crosby? Try the Hey Jude quiz!


More songs.

Like this song? Try these...


Doves Doves
Special guests on Dermot's show this week

What's on

Radio 2 Documentaries
Find out more about current and forthcoming documentaries on Radio 2.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy