Approaching 40: Hey Jude

I have a fondness for what I consider to be one of the worse Beatles songs of all time: “Hey Jude” which I believe was written by Paul McCartney. (Don’t bother telling me what a great song it really is, that it was written for Julian Lennon after his folks, split up, etc., etc. I stil think it is a pretty bad song.) Despite that, when ever I hear it, I am transported back to our playroom in Warwick, Rhode Island. One year, for Christmas, my brother and I got our first combination radio-tape deck. The coolest feature was that we could record songs off the radio. Well, perhaps that wasn’t quite the coolest feature. The coolest feature was the ability to record ourselves. And my-oh-my did we record ourselves. Mostly, we recorded ourselves belching for loud extended periods into the microphone. It was great good fun, but thank goodness those tapes are lost forever.

But being able to record off the radio was pretty cool, too, and somehow, we managed to record the Beatle’s “Hey Jude” which, even at the ripe old age of ten I knew to be a pretty awful song. I remember pretty clearly thinking that McCartney must have phoned this one in. (I was at the stage of thinking such sophisticated thoughts.) After all, the majority of the song was nothing more than a “Na, na-na, nana-na-na, nana-na-na, hey Jude.” That said, for some reason, we enjoyed playing it again and again and again and again. Gosh, even thinking about it now I find myself back in that playroom, with the old-fashioned, antique school room desks, with ink wells, and our tape-deck/radio between us as we sang the lyrics, such as they were, over and over again.

There is a part in the song where McCartney eventually bursts out with a “Jude-jude-a-jude-jude-a-judy-judy-owww!” or something like that, and my brother and I relished in singing that part. It was always a guess for us of when it would occur in the song and it wasn’t until sometime later that I realized it came in the very next verse after the horns came in.

This is one of those songs that is not from the era in which I was growing up, but somehow became part of my musical autobiography. It brings back some fond memories of those days when my brother and I spent a lot of time together. We fought frequently, but every once and a while, we’d stop in our fighting, and say, “Buddies?” and if we both agreed, it would signal a truce between us, and things would be just great. Yes, “Hey Jude” reminds me of that, despite being a fairly mawkish song. Go figure. And my apologies to all of the Beatles fans out there. I am very sorry that Paul wrote such a mawkish song in the first place.


  1. The Beatles have numerous songs that are worse than “Hey Jude.” Most notably “You Know My Name (Look Up My Number),” “Her Majesty,” “The End,” “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?,” “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” and, arguably “What’s the New Mary Jane?” although since the Beatles cleverly failed to release that one until the anthology series, even though they planned to release it in the 60s, it might not belong on a list of official releases.


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