Full Upgraded Footages from "Experiments In TV: Music!" Original Reel
"Hey Jude" is a song by the English rock band The Beatles. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, the ballad evolved from "Hey Jules", a song Paul McCartney wrote 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.
"Hey Jude" was released in August 1968 as the first single from The Beatles' record label Apple Records. More than seven minutes in length, "Hey Jude" was, at the time, the longest single ever to top the British charts. It also spent nine weeks as number one in the United States—the longest run at the top of the American charts for a Beatles' single, and tied the record for longest stay at #1 (until the record was beaten by "You Light Up My Life"). The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional lists of the all-time best songs.
The Beatles recorded 25 takes of "Hey Jude" at Abbey Road Studios in two nights, 29 July and 30 July 1968. These were mostly rehearsals, however, as they planned to record the master track at Trident Studios to utilise their eight-track recording machine (Abbey Road was still limited to four-tracks). One take from 29 July is available on the Anthology 3 CD. The master rhythm track was recorded on 31 July at Trident. Four takes were recorded; take one was selected. The song was completed on 1 August with additional overdubs including a 36-piece orchestra for the song's long coda, scored by George Martin. The orchestra consisted of ten violins, three violas, three cellos, two flutes, one contra bassoon, one bassoon, two clarinets, one contra bass clarinet, four trumpets, four trombones, two horns, percussion, and two string basses. While adding backing vocals, The Beatles asked the orchestra members if they would clap their hands and sing along to the refrain in the song's coda. Most complied (for a double fee), but one declined, reportedly saying, "I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song!"
Ringo Starr almost missed his drum cue. He left for a toilet break—unnoticed by the other Beatles—and the band started recording. In 1994, McCartney said, "Ringo walked out to go to the toilet and I hadn't noticed. The toilet was only a few yards from his drum booth, but he'd gone past my back and I still thought he was in his drum booth. I started what was the actual take, and 'Hey Jude' goes on for hours before the drums come in and while I was doing it I suddenly felt Ringo tiptoeing past my back rather quickly, trying to get to his drums. And just as he got to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was absolutely impeccable."
From 2:56 to 2:58 of the song, someone can be heard to say, "Fucking hell!" There is some dispute as to who said this. According to sound engineers Ken Scott and Geoff Emerick, it was McCartney, and it was Lennon's idea to leave the mistake in the final mix. "'Paul hit a clunker on the piano and said a naughty word,' Lennon gleefully crowed, 'but I insisted we leave it in, buried just low enough so that it can barely be heard. Most people won't ever spot it...but we'll know it's there.'" However, in the book Recording The Beatles, engineer Malcolm Toft recalls, "Barry Sheffield engineered 'Hey Jude', but I mixed it... John Lennon says a very rude word about halfway through the song. At 2:59 you will hear a 'whoa' from him in the background. About two seconds later you will hear, 'f***ing hell!' This was because when he was doing a vocal backing, Barry sent him the foldback level [headphone volume] too loud and he threw the cans on the ground and uttered the expletive. But, because it had been bounced down [mixed] with the main vocal, it could not be removed. I just managed to bring the fader down for a split second on the mix to try to lessen the effect." Others argue that the voice is Ringo Starr's. In fairness, it should be stated that there is no 100% concrete proof that a profanity appears on the record (as demonstrated by the conflicting reports from supposed insiders), and it has been theorized that the phrase in question is actually "Help me out" - a direction from Paul to the other Beatles to assist him in the big choral refrain that they were about to hit at that point in the take.
George Harrison and McCartney had a disagreement over this song. According to McCartney, during a rehearsal Harrison played an answer to every line of the vocal.