The Beatles classic ‘Hey Jude’ had nothing to do with the Jewish faith despite an angry claim to the contrary, according to Paul McCartney.
In a new interview with GQ, Sir Paul revealed when the 50-year-old song was first released (August 26, 1968 in the U.S. and August 30 in the UK) ardent Jewish fans rang him up to tell him that “Jude” had a darker resonance.
“I liked the name Jude,” he said. “I didn’t realize it meant Jewish, which it does.” The Beatles, he continued, owned a small fashion outlet called the Apple Boutique in London and decided to splash the title ‘Hey Jude’ in the street window to draw attention to the venture.
A gentleman named Mr. Leon called soon after, furious. “He said ‘What are you doing? How dare you do this?’” McCartney recalled.”Because in Hitler’s day, the Nazi thing, ‘Juden Raus’ meant ‘Jews out.’ I didn’t connect. I heard the name first in one of the musicals. I liked the name. He rings me up and he says, ‘you’re doing this and you’re making fun of the Jews.’ I said, ‘no wait a minute.’
He said ‘I am going to send my son around to beat you up.’ I said ‘hey baby, nothing to do with that.’ I was suddenly alerted that it would have caused him a lot of problems because his family would have experienced that. I calmed him down and his son didn’t come around to beat me up.”
‘Hey Jude’ became the band’s most successful single and a global sensation, credited as per style to Lennon–McCartney. It topped the charts around the world, staying at No 1 in the U.S. for nine weeks and selling over five million copies.
Paul McCartney concieved it when he was driving to John Lennon’s house to console John’s 5-year-old son Julian over his parents’ divorce. By the time he arrived at the Weybridge home of John and Cynthia he had composed the song, originally titled ‘Hey Julian’.
Not long after he changed the song’s title to ‘Hey Jude’ because, in Paul’s words, it sounded better. The song was ultimately recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios.
‘Hey Jude’ was nominated for the Grammy Awards of 1969, however it failed to win a single award. It did win the 1968 NME Readers’ poll for single of the year and won the 1968 Ivor Novello Award.
In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th “biggest” song of all time.
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