OUR WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT ON GREAT ALBUMS
SALUTES A SAD SONG THAT MAKES IT BETTER
40 years ago yesterday, Paul McCartney and John Lennon put the final touches on "Hey Jude." Within a month the song, the first single on the newly formed Apple Records, was number one on the U.S. charts, where it remained for nine straight weeks. Written to comfort Julian Lennon during John's divorce to Cynthia Lennon, "Hey Jude" is both deeply simple and a spot of grandeur that pop doesn't often muster. The single has sold over eight million copies since 1968, and myriad artists have covered it with varying degrees of success. Like some tin pan alley "Amazing Grace," the tune touches some deeply shared part of us, some pain or longing or loss we all share in our own way, and Lord knows we always need songs that can do that.
Here's the original '60s promo film with The Beatles just before the moustache years.
Hugh Laurie does his Alvin-esque rendition of the song on A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Silly stuff that could probably get his medical license pulled.
During this short "Hey Jude" rehearsal outtake (the track went through 25 takes), George Harrison distils the expansive, enduring nature of The Beatles music in a sentence or two. Watch for it about a minute in.
The Across The Universe version has staging oddly reminiscent of Monty Python's "Every Sperm Is Sacred" from Meaning of Life. Go figure.
Finally, Wilson Pickett and The Bee Gees take us to church with this funky lil' '70s romp through "Jude."