Out of the 500 songs chosen for the KOOL Labor Day 500, Hey Jude came in at #1 – and for good reason.
In late August 1968 I was working my first job in radio when a 7×7 envelope came to the station. When it was opened we found a single with a label I’d never seen before. There was no picture sleeve that came with Beatles singles, it came in a black sleeve that read ‘The Beatles on Apple. On one side of the record label was the picture of a green apple while the other side showed a picture of the apple cut in half. A closer look revealed the title Hey Jude’ by The Beatles. All the (then) recent Beatles singles had been released on Capitol records with the familiar orange and yellow swirl. I hadn’t even played the record and already knew it was going to be something special… and it was.
The song was credited to Lennon-McCartney, but the vast majority was written by McCartney alone. In fact john’s major contribution was to convince Paul to leave in a line he was ready to take out. The first time Paul sang the song for John and came to the line ‘the movement you need is on your shoulder’, he told John he’d fix that line. John replied, “You won’t, that’s the best line in the song’.
‘Hey Jude’ was written for John and Cynthia Lennon’s son Julian. Originally titles ‘Hey Jules’ Paul wrote it as a song of comfort for Julian during his parent’s divorce.
On September 29, ‘Hey Jude’ began a 9 week run atop the Billboard 100 – a record that stood for nine years until Debby Boone broke it with ‘You Light Up My Life’.
Hey Jude is 7 minutes and 11 seconds long and became the longest running #1 hit until Meat Loaf’s ‘I’d Do Anything For Love’ which clocked in at 7 minutes and 58 seconds. (‘American Pie’ clocked in at over 8 minutes, but the single version released was a shorter edit of the album and therefore doesn’t count.
‘Hey Jude’ was nominated for 3 Grammy awards in 1969, but failed to win a single one. In 1968 the single sold 4 million copies in the United states alone. To date, it has sold over 8 million worldwide.
In addition to The Beatles, the song features 10 violins, 3 violas, 3 , cellos, 2 double basses, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 contrabassoon, 4 trumpets, 2 horns, 4 trombones, and 1 percussion instrument in addition to Ringo’s drums.
On September 4, 1968, The Beatles shot a film of the song with the final cut being a combination of the 12 takes from that afternoon Four days later it was shown in the UK and on October 6 it was aired for the first time in the united stated ob The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Here is the #1 song from the KOOL Labor Day 500 – first the original recording, then the filmed version from a month later.