PERFORMING ARTS

Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude”

Backbeat: Rowman & Littlefield May 2022. 328p. ISBN 9781493062379. $27.95. MUSIC
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Campion (cohost of the music podcast Underwater Sunshine, with Adam Duritz) delves into the peppy, optimistic Beatles track “Hey Jude,” written by Paul McCartney in 1968. Drawing from scholarly studies, musicians, and a few published memories by McCartney, he lists fascinating facts about the tune: it was the best-selling song of all 1968 and sold eight million units; it was the first Beatles song to be recorded on eight-track equipment; and, at more than seven minutes, it was one of the longest singles of the era. Campion explores the strong bond between McCartney and John Lennon, who both lost their mothers at an early age, and McCartney’s motivation to write “Hey Jude” for Lennon’s son Julian when Lennon left his son and first wife for Yoko Ono. Campion describes the sing-a-longs that took place in the McCartney household and painstakingly scrutinizes the musical structure and arrangement of the composition. He also discusses the recording of the song and the filming of the Beatles’ TV performance of “Hey Jude” and places the song’s hopefulness in the context of tumultuous 1968.
VERDICT Not hiding his obsession for “Hey Jude,” Campion delivers an in-depth account of an important song; Beatlemaniacs will be pleased.
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