Although Paul McCartney wrote Hey Jude, the song is credited to Lennon-McCartney. It was recorded and released in 1968. That recorded version, performed by The Beatles and showing the lyrics, is here.
The ballad evolved from “Hey Jules”, a song widely accepted as being written to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, during his parents’ divorce. “Hey Jude” begins with a verse-bridge structure based around McCartney’s vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses to distinguish sections. After the fourth verse, the song shifts to a fade-out coda that lasts for more than four minutes.
The song took on additional and varied meaning. Hey Jude was released at a time when racial tension was raging in the US. Earlier that year, American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, and there was much turmoil in American music among black and white musicians in the immediate aftermath of the tragic loss. There were efforts to bridge the gaps in the new genre of music at that time known as Southern Rock.
There is a BBC Documentary on the development of Southern Rock, called Sweet Home Alabama – The Southern Rock Saga. While watching this, I learned about the history and recording of another version of Hey Jude, performed by Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman in 1969, just months after its release. It is an example of musicians as activists, in a peaceful demonstration that music, as well as tragedy, are colorblind. Please give it a listen, because it is difficult to find a song that is so deeply moving:
In addition to Wilson Pickett singing with beauty and passion, and Duane on electric slide guitar, this song also has ” “arguably the greatest soul horn section ever,” the Memphis Horns. Wilson Pickett balked when Duane suggested they attempt this version of Hey Jude. Pickett finally agreed, and other musicians were stunned when they listened.
Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006), who sings this version of Hey Jude, grew up in Alabama singing in Baptist choirs. From Wiki:
Read the rest of this entry →