After all these years, Julian Lennon admits that “Hey Jude,” the song Paul McCartney wrote for him, got under his skin.
Lennon, the son of the late John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, who died in 2015, shared his thoughts on the song on the “Club Random with Bill Maher” podcast last week.
You can watch the discussion on YouTube:
When Lennon, a musician and photographer, told Maher he was embarking on a memoir, the host suggested a film version, with an opening “grabber” shot of McCartney arriving at the home of the boy and his mother to write “Hey Jude”.
“It is your grabber,” Lennon responded, and said he had a “love-hate” relationship with the song, the Los Angeles Times reported. The outlet used some of the song’s lyrics as puns in its story, suggesting that “the sad song” didn’t “make things better” for Lennon.
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Why wouldn’t Julian Lennon like “Hey Jude”?
It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate McCartney’s gesture, but the song also serves as a “brutal, dark reminder of what really happened, of the fact that Dad left…left Mom and me,” he told Maher. “It was a moment of complete change, of complete destruction, of complete darkness and sadness. I mean, I was only three years old, but I recognized that something was happening.”
“But for mom… it was heartbreaking,” Lennon explained. “It’s a reminder of that time and place. I understand both sides of it, but a lot of people don’t necessarily understand that there’s a dark side, the yin and the yang, to this song.”
John and Cynthia Lennon were married in 1962 in Liverpool and Julian was born in 1963. The couple divorced in 1968. John Lennon was assassinated on December 8, 1980 in New York. Cynthia Lennon died in 2015 at the age of 75.
Did Paul McCartney write “Hey Jude” for Julian Lennon?
The song, released as a single in 1968, was originally called “Hey Jules,” but McCartney changed it to “Hey Jude,” he said in “Paul McCartney: The Lyrics,” published in 2021, “because I thought it was a little less precise.”
“Jude” comes from the character “Jud” in the musical “Oklahoma,” McCartney wrote.
“I thought how hard it would be for Jules, as I called him, to have his father leave him, to have his parents divorce,” McCartney wrote. “It started as a song of encouragement.”
McCartney remembers the first time he played the song for John Lennon. “I’m not even sure if he knew at the time that the song was for his son Julian. The song had started when I was traveling one day to see Julian and his mother Cynthia. At that point, John had left Cynthia and I went to Kenwood (in Surrey, England) as a friend to say hello and see how they were doing.”
As the song developed and McCartney added the line “you had to go get her,” he wrote, “there is now another character, a woman, in the scene. “
“At this point the song is no longer about Julian,” McCartney wrote. “Now it could be about this new woman’s relationship. I like my songs to have an element of everyone or every woman.”
Rolling Stone ranked “Hey Jude” at number 89 on its list of the 500 best songs of all time in 2021. It was number 8 on the magazine’s 2003 list.
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Contributor: Maria Puente.
Follow Mike Snider on X and Threads: @mikesnider & mikegsnider.
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