‘Hey Jude’ at 50: Celebrating the Beatles’ Most Open-Hearted Masterpiece

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“Hey Jude” sums up the Beatles’ turbulent summer of 1968 — a tribute to their friendship, right at the moment it was starting to fracture. The single was a smash as soon as they released it on August 26th, 50 years ago — their biggest hit, topping the U.S. charts for nine weeks. It’s the Beatles at their warmest, friendliest, most open-hearted. John, Paul, George and Ringo sound utterly in sync, building to that power-drone “na na na na” chant. Yet it’s a song born from conflict. Nobody knew they were falling apart — in fact, “Hey Jude” was released four days after Ringo officially quit the band, walking out on the White Album sessions. Paul wrote it during John’s divorce, to cheer up his mate’s five-year-old son. As Julian Lennon recalled, “He was just trying to console me and Mum.” The world has been taking consolation from “Hey Jude” ever since."

“Hey Jude” is a tribute to everything the Beatles loved and respected most about each other. Even George, who plays the most low-profile role in this song, tipped his cap with the na-na-na-na finale of “Isn’t That a Pity,” which you can hear as a viciously cheeky parody, an affectionate tribute or (most likely) both. The pain in “Hey Jude” resonated in 1968, in a world reeling from wars, riots and assassinations. And it’s why it sounds timely in the summer of 2018, as our world keeps getting colder. After 50 years, “Hey Jude” remains a source of sustenance in difficult times — a moment when four longtime comrades, clear-eyed adults by now, take a look around at everything that’s broken around them. Yet they still join together to take a sad song and make it better."

Rob Sheffield Celebrates the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ at 50 – Rolling Stone
 
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