The Story Behind “Hey Jude”

The Beatles had a LOT of hits. It’s been written that they are one of the most influential, and trendsetting groups in music history. They have 20 number 1 songs, 34 Top 10 songs, and 50 Top 40 songs on the U.S. charts alone.

One of their biggest songs was “Hey Jude.” It garnered triple platinum album status with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and quadruple platinum as a single which also hit number one on 11 Top 40 charts, in 10 countries. The song was 7 minutes and 11 seconds long and at the time the longest song to ever hit number 1 in the UK. It also topped two charts in the United States and sat atop the list for a record 9 weeks.

It sold approximately 8 million copies and is frequently included on professional critics’ lists of the greatest songs “of all time.” In 2013, Billboard magazine named it the 10th biggest song of all time.

But have you ever wondered why songs are written, or who they are written for or about?

“Hey Jude” was written by Paul McCartney. But he didn’t write it for one of his own children…he wrote it for John Lennon’s son Julian. In fact, the song was originally titled “Hey Jules” and NOT “Hey Jude.” According to sources, the group decided to change the name of the song because they felt that “Hey Jude” just “sounded” better.

McCartney came up with the song to comfort Julian Lennon after his dad John broke up with first wife Cynthia. “I knew it was not going to be easy for him,” McCartney told Howard Sounes for the book Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney in 2011, of his motives in writing the tune. Ironically, McCartney credited John Lennon as “co-writer” of the song…presumably as a sign of friendship.

They say that inspiration can come from anywhere. Many artists will tell you that they get their motivation for lyrics from some of the tragedies and challenges that they suffer in their personal lives. Far more often than not, those motivators turn their personal experiences into ringing cash registers in their lives…thereby turning a negative into a positive.

Good thing for the Beatles, Paul McCartney was a caring guy.


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