"Hey Jude" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The ballad evolved from "Hey Jules", a song McCartney wrote to comfort John Lennon's son, Julian, during his parents' divorce. "Hey Jude" begins with a verse-bridge structure incorporating McCartney's vocal performance and piano accompaniment; further instrumentation is added as the song progresses. 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, it was at the time the longest single ever to top the British charts. It also spent nine weeks at number one in the United States, the longest for any Beatles single. "Hey Jude" tied the "all-time" record, at the time, for the longest run at the top of the US charts. The single has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on professional critics' lists of the greatest songs of all time. In 2013, Billboard named it the 10th biggest song of all time.
Contents 1 Inspiration and writing 2 Production 2.1 Abbey Road rehearsals 2.2 Trident Studios recording 2.3 Mixing 3 Composition and structure 4 Release 5 Promotion 6 Critical reception 7 Awards and accolades 8 Auctioned lyrics 9 Cover versions and performances 10 Personnel 11 Charts 11.1 Weekly charts 11.2 Year-end charts 11.3 All-time charts 12 Certifications
Inspiration and writingEdit
In May 1968, John Lennon and his wife Cynthia Lennon separated because of John's affair with Yoko Ono. The following month, Paul McCartney drove out to visit Cynthia and John's son, Julian, at Kenwood, the family's home in Weybridge. Cynthia had been part of the Beatles' social circle since before the band's rise to fame in 1963; McCartney later said he found it "a bit much for them suddenly to be personae non gratae and out of my life". Cynthia Lennon recalled of McCartney's surprise visit: "I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare ... On the journey down he composed 'Hey Jude' in the car. I will never forget Paul's gesture of care and concern in coming to see us."
I started with the idea "Hey Jules," which was Julian, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing. I knew it was not going to be easy for him. I always feel sorry for kids in divorces...
– Paul McCartney, 1997
The song's original title was "Hey Jules", and it was intended to comfort Julian Lennon from the stress of his parents' separation. McCartney later said, "I knew it was not going to be easy for him", and that he changed the name to "Jude" "because I thought that sounded a bit better".
According to music journalist Chris Hunt, in the weeks after writing the song, McCartney "test[ed] his latest composition on anyone too polite to refuse. And that meant everyone." On 30 June, after recording the Black Dyke Mills Band's rendition of his instrumental "Thingumybob", in Yorkshire, McCartney stopped at a village in Bedfordshire and performed "Hey Jude" at a local pub. He also regaled members of the Bonzo Dog Band with the song while producing their single "I'm the Urban Spaceman", in London, and interrupted a recording session by the Barron Knights to do the same. Ron Griffith of the group the Iveys – soon to be known as Badfinger and, like the Black Dyke Mills Band, an early signing to the Beatles' new record label Apple Records – later recalled that on their first day in the studio, McCartney "gave us a full concert rendition of 'Hey Jude'".[nb 1]
When introducing the composition to Lennon, McCartney assured him that he would "fix" the line "the movement you need is on your shoulder", reasoning that "it's a stupid expression; it sounds like a parrot." Lennon replied: "You won't, you know. That's the best line in the song." McCartney retained the phrase; he later said of his subsequent live performances of the song: "that's the line when I think of John, and sometimes I get a little emotional during that moment."
If you think about it ... Yoko's just come into the picture. He's saying. "Hey, Jude – Hey, John." I know I'm sounding like one of those fans who reads things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me ... Subconsciously, he was saying, Go ahead, leave me. On a conscious level, he didn't want me to go ahead.
– John Lennon, 1980
Although McCartney originally wrote "Hey Jude" for Julian, John Lennon thought it had actually been written for him. In a 1980 interview, Lennon stated that he "always heard it as a song to me" and contended that, on one level, McCartney was giving his blessing to Lennon and Ono's relationship, while, on another, he was disappointed to be usurped as Lennon's friend and songwriting partner.
Other people believed McCartney wrote the song about them, including Judith Simons, a journalist with the Daily Express. Still others, including Lennon, have speculated that in the lyrics to "Hey Jude", McCartney's failing long-term relationship with Jane Asher provided an unconscious "message to himself". McCartney and Asher had announced their engagement on 25 December 1967, yet he began an affair with Linda Eastman in June 1968; that same month, Francie Schwartz, an American who was in London to discuss a film proposal with Apple, began living with McCartney at his St John's Wood home. When Lennon mentioned that he thought the song was about him and Ono, McCartney denied it and told Lennon he had written the song about himself.[nb 2]
Author Mark Hertsgaard has commented that "many of the song's lyrics do seem directed more at a grown man on the verge of a powerful new love, especially the lines 'you have found her now go and get her' and 'you're waiting for someone to perform with.'" Music critic and author Tim Riley writes: "If the song is about self-worth and self-consolation in the face of hardship, the vocal performance itself conveys much of the journey. He begins by singing to comfort someone else, finds himself weighing his own feelings in the process, and finally, in the repeated refrains that nurture his own approbation, he comes to believe in himself."
Abbey Road rehearsals
Having earmarked the song for release as a single, the Beatles recorded "Hey Jude" during the sessions for their self-titled double album, commonly known as "the White Album". The sessions were marked by an element of discord within the group for the first time, partly as a result of Ono's constant presence at Lennon's side, and also reflective of the four band members' divergence following their communal trip to Rishikesh in the spring of 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation. Author Peter Doggett describes the completed version of "Hey Jude" as a song that "glowed with optimism after a summer that had burned with anxiety and rage within the group".
The Beatles first taped 25 takes of the song at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over two nights, 29 and 30 July 1968, with George Martin as their producer. These dates served as rehearsals, however, since 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). A take from 29 July, which author and critic Kenneth Womack describes as a "jovial" session, was issued on the Anthology 3 compilation in 1996.
The 30 July rehearsals were filmed for a short documentary titled Music! The film shows only three of the Beatles performing "Hey Jude", however, since George Harrison remained in the studio control room, with Martin and EMI recording engineer Ken Scott.[nb 3] Author Simon Leng views this as indicative of how Harrison was increasingly allowed little room to develop ideas on McCartney compositions, whereas he was free to create empathetic guitar parts for Lennon's songs of the period.
During the rehearsals that day, Harrison and McCartney had a heated disagreement over the lead guitar part for the song. Harrison's idea was to play a guitar phrase as a response to each line of the vocal, which did not fit with McCartney's conception of the song's arrangement, and he vetoed it. In a 1994 interview, McCartney said, "looking back on it, I think, Okay. Well, it was bossy, but it was ballsy of me, because I could have bowed to the pressure." Ron Richards, a record producer who worked for Martin at both Parlophone and AIR Studios, said McCartney was "oblivious to anyone else's feelings in the studio", and that he was driven to making the best possible record, at almost any cost.[nb 4]
Trident Studios recording
The master track for "Hey Jude" was recorded at Trident Studios on 31 July. Trident's founder, Norman Sheffield, recalled that Mal Evans, the Beatles' aide and former roadie, insisted that some pot plants he had brought be placed in the studio to make the place "soft", consistent with the band's wishes. Sheffield served as recording engineer for the session. The line-up on the basic track was McCartney on piano and lead vocal, Lennon on acoustic guitar, Harrison on electric guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums.
The Beatles recorded four takes of "Hey Jude", the first of which was selected as the master. With drums absent for the first 50 seconds of the song, McCartney began this take unaware that Starr had just left for a toilet break. Starr soon returned – "tiptoeing past my back rather quickly", in McCartney's recollection – and performed his cue perfectly. McCartney added: "his timing was absolutely impeccable."
On 1 August, the group carried out overdubs on the basic track, again at Trident. These additions included McCartney's lead vocal and bass guitar; backing vocals from Lennon, McCartney and Harrison; and tambourine, played by Starr. They then added a 36-piece orchestra over the long coda, scored by 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. With the introduction of what musicologist Walter Everett terms the "bottom-heavy" orchestral instruments, particularly the string basses, McCartney's bass part was cut from the start of the coda onwards.
According to Sheffield, there was dissension initially among the orchestral musicians, some of whom "were looking down their noses at the Beatles, I think". Sheffield recalls that McCartney ensured their cooperation by demanding: "Do you guys want to get fucking paid or not?" During the first few takes, McCartney was unhappy about the lack of energy and passion in the orchestra's performance, so he stood up on the grand piano and started conducting the musicians from there.
The Beatles then asked the orchestra members if they would clap their hands and sing along to the refrain in the coda. All but one of the musicians complied (for a double fee), with the abstainer reportedly saying, "I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song!" Apple Records assistant Chris O'Dell says she joined the cast of backing singers on the song; one of the label's first signings, Jackie Lomax, also recalled participating.
Trident was paid £25 per hour by EMI for the "Hey Jude" sessions. Sheffield said that the studio earned about £1000 in total at the time, but by having the Beatles record there, and in turn raving about the facility, the value was incalculable. The band carried out further work at Trident during 1968, and Apple artists such as Lomax, Mary Hopkin, Billy Preston and the Iveys all recorded there over the next year.[nb 5]
Scott, Martin and the Beatles mixed the finished recording at Abbey Road. The transfer of the Trident master tape to acetate proved problematic due to the recording sounding murky when played back on EMI's equipment. The issue was resolved with the help of Geoff Emerick, whom Scott had recently replaced as the Beatles' principal recording engineer. Emerick happened to be visiting Abbey Road, having recently refused to work with the Beatles any longer, due to the tension and abuse that had become commonplace at their recording sessions. A stereo mix of "Hey Jude" was then completed on 2 August and the mono version on 8 August.[nb 6]
Everett writes that the song's "most commented-on feature" is its considerable length, at 7:11. The precedent for issuing such a long track on a single had recently been set by Richard Harris' hit recording of "MacArthur Park", the composer of which, Jimmy Webb, was a visitor to the studio around this time. According to Webb, Martin admitted to him that "Hey Jude" was only allowed to run over seven minutes because of the success of "MacArthur Park".
In the song's final bridge section, at 2:58, the spoken phrase "Fucking hell!" appears. Scott admits that although he was told about it, he could not hear the words originally. Lennon attributed the expletive to McCartney, according to Emerick, who reports Lennon's comment in his autobiography: "'Paul hit a clunker on the piano and said a naughty word,' Lennon gleefully crowed, 'but I insisted we leave it in [at Trident], 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.'" Womack considers that the expletive was actually uttered by Lennon. Malcolm Toft, the mix engineer on the Trident recording, also attributes it to Lennon. In Toft's recollection, Lennon was overdubbing his harmony vocal when, in reaction to the volume being too loud in his headphones, he first called out "Whoa!" then, two seconds later, swore as he pulled the headphones off.[nb 7]
Composition and structureEdit
1968 sheet music cover (Maclen Music, Inc., New York)
"Hey Jude" begins with McCartney singing lead vocals and playing the piano. The patterns he plays are based on three chords: F, C, and B♭ (I, V and IV). The main chord progression is "flipped on its head", in Hertsgaard's words, for the coda, since the C chord is replaced by E♭. Everett comments that McCartney's melody over the verses borrows in part from John Ireland's 1907 liturgical piece Te Deum, as well as (with the first change to a B♭ chord) suggesting the influence of the Drifters' 1960 hit "Save the Last Dance for Me".
The second verse of the song adds accompaniment from acoustic guitar and tambourine. Tim Riley writes that, with the "restrained tom-tom and cymbal fill" that introduces the drum part, "the piano shifts downward to add a flat seventh to the tonic chord, making the downbeat of the bridge the point of arrival ('And any time you feel the pain')." At the end of each bridge, McCartney sings a brief phrase ("Na-na-na na …"), supported by an electric guitar fill, before playing a piano fill that leads to the next verse. According to Riley, this vocal phrase serves to "reorient the harmony for the verse as the piano figure turns upside down into a vocal aside". Additional musical details, such as tambourine on the third verse and subtle harmonies accompanying the lead vocal, are added to sustain interest throughout the four-verse, two-bridge song.
The verse-bridge structure persists for approximately three minutes, after which the band leads into a four-minute-long coda, consisting of nineteen rounds of the song's double plagal cadence. During this coda, the rest of the band, backed by an orchestra that also provides backing vocals, repeats the phrase "Na-na-na na" followed by the words "hey Jude" until the song gradually fades out. In his analysis of the composition, musicologist Alan Pollack comments on the unusual structure of "Hey Jude", in that it uses a "binary form that combines a fully developed, hymn-like song together with an extended, mantra-like jam on a simple chord progression".
Riley considers that the coda's repeated chord sequence (I-♭VII-IV-I) "answers all the musical questions raised at the beginnings and ends of bridges", since "The flat seventh that posed dominant turns into bridges now has an entire chord built on it." This three-chord refrain allows McCartney "a bedding ... to leap about on vocally", so he ad-libs his vocal performance for the rest of the song. In Riley's estimation, the song "becomes a tour of Paul's vocal range: from the graceful inviting tones of the opening verse, through the mounting excitement of the song itself, to the surging raves of the coda".
[The Beatles] are confident and cheerful and the human condition will be thrilled by the coming results of their willing and enduring Beatle bondage … they will give all of us new wonders to soothe our pain.
– Derek Taylor, "Hey Jude" press release, August 1968
"Hey Jude" was released on 26 August 1968 in the United States and 30 August in the United Kingdom, backed with "Revolution" on the B-side of a 7" single. It was one of four singles issued simultaneously to launch Apple Records – the others being Mary Hopkin's "Those Were the Days", Jackie Lomax's "Sour Milk Sea", and the Black Dyke Mills Band's "Thingumybob". In advance of the release date, Apple declared 11–18 August to be "National Apple Week" in the UK, and sent gift-wrapped boxes of the records, marked "Our First Four", to Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family, and to the British prime minister. The release was promoted by Derek Taylor, who, in Doggett's description, "hyped the first Apple records with typical elan". "Hey Jude" was the first of the four singles, since it was still designated as an EMI/Parlophone release in the UK and a Capitol release in the US, but with the Apple Records logo now added.[nb 8] In the US, "Hey Jude" was the first Beatles single to be issued in a company sleeve rather than a picture sleeve.
Lennon wanted "Revolution" to be the A-side of the single, but the other Beatles did not agree. In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, he said "Hey Jude" was worthy of an A-side, "but we could have had both." In 1980, he told Playboy he still disagreed with the decision.
The single was a highly successful debut for Apple Records, and contrasted with the public embarrassment the band faced after the recent closure of their short-lived retail venture, Apple Boutique. "Hey Jude" began its sixteen-week run on Britain's official singles chart on 7 September 1968, claiming the top spot a week later. It lasted two weeks on top before being replaced by Hopkin's "Those Were the Days", which was produced by McCartney. "Hey Jude" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 13 September; that same week, NME reported that two million copies of the single had been sold. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on 14 September, beginning a nineteen-week chart run there. It reached number one on 28 September and held that position for nine weeks, for three of which, "Those Were the Days" held the number-two spot. This was the longest time spent by a Beatles single at number one, as well as being the longest-playing single to reach number one. The song was the 16th number-one hit for the band in America, tying Elvis Presley's record at the time for most number-one songs there. Billboard ranked it as the number-one song for 1968.
In the UK, where "MacArthur Park" had failed to top the chart, "Hey Jude" remained the longest number-one hit for nearly a quarter of a century. It was surpassed in 1993 by Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)", which ran to 7:58 as a single.
On 30 November 1968, NME reported that sales had reached nearly six million copies worldwide. "Hey Jude" became the biggest-selling debut release for a record label ever, selling an estimated eight million copies worldwide and topping the charts in eleven countries. In 1999, it was certified 4x platinum by the RIAA, representing four million units shipped in the US.
A failed early promotional attempt for the single took place after the Beatles' all-night recording session on 7–8 August 1968. With Apple Boutique having closed a week before, McCartney and his girlfriend, Francie Schwartz, painted Hey Jude/Revolution across its large, whitewashed shop windows. The words were mistaken for anti-Semitic graffiti (since Jude means "Jew" in German), leading to complaints from the local Jewish community, and the windows being smashed by passers-by. Discussing the episode in The Beatles Anthology, McCartney explained that he had been motivated by the location – "Great opportunity. Baker Street, millions of buses going around …" – and added: "I had no idea it meant 'Jew', but if you look at footage of Nazi Germany, 'Juden Raus' was written in whitewashed windows with a Star of David. I swear it never occurred to me." According to Barry Miles, McCartney caused further controversy in his comments to Alan Smith of the NME that month when he said: "Starvation in India doesn't worry me one bit, not one iota … And it doesn't worry you, if you're honest. You just pose."[nb 9]
The Beatles hired Michael Lindsay-Hogg to shoot a promotional film for "Hey Jude", after he had previously directed a clip for "Paperback Writer" in 1966. They settled on the idea of filming with a live, albeit controlled audience. In the film, the Beatles are first seen by themselves, performing the initial chorus and verses, and then are joined by the audience who appear as the last chorus concludes and coda begins; the audience sings and claps along with the Beatles through the song's conclusion. Hogg shot the film at Twickenham Film Studios on 4 September 1968, with McCartney himself designing the set. Tony Bramwell, a friend of the Beatles, later described the set as "the piano, there; drums, there; and orchestra in two tiers at the back." The event marked Starr's return to the group, after McCartney's criticism of his drumming had led to him walking out during a session for the White Album track "Back in the U.S.S.R." During his two-week absence, Starr announced that he had left the band.
The final film was a combination of several different takes and included filmed "introductions" to the song by David Frost (who introduced the Beatles as "the greatest tea-room orchestra in the world"), and Cliff Richard, for their respective, eponymous TV programmes. As filming wore on, Lennon repeatedly asked Lindsay-Hogg if he had the footage he needed. After twelve takes, McCartney said, "I think that's enough", and filming concluded. It was first aired in the UK on Frost on Sunday on 8 September 1968, and the film was later broadcast for the United States on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on 6 October. According to Riley, the showing on Frost on Sunday "kicked 'Hey Jude' into the stratosphere" in terms of popularity. Hertsgaard pairs it with the release of the animated film Yellow Submarine as two events that created "a state of nirvana" for Beatles fans, in contrast with the problems besetting the band regarding Ono's influence and Apple.
The 4 September 1968 promo film is included in the Beatles' 2015 video compilation 1, while the three-disc versions of that compilation, titled 1+, also include an alternate video, with a different introduction and vocal, from the same date.
Upon the single's release, Derek Johnson of the NME wrote: "The intriguing features of 'Hey Jude' are its extreme length and the 40-piece orchestral accompaniment – and personally I would have preferred it without either!" While he viewed the track overall as "a beautiful, compelling song", and the first three minutes as "absolutely sensational", Johnson rued the long coda's "vocal improvisations on the basically repetitive four-bar chorus". Time magazine described the coda as "a fadeout that engagingly spoofs the fadeout as a gimmick for ending pop records". The same reviewer contrasted "Hey Jude" with its B-side, "Revolution", saying that "The other side of the new disk urges activism of a different sort", due to McCartney "liltingly exhort[ing] a friend to overcome his fears and commit himself in love". Rolling Stone also attributed the song's meaning as a message from McCartney to Lennon to end his negative relationships with women: "to break the old pattern; to really go through with love". Other commentators interpreted "Hey Jude" as being directed at Bob Dylan, then semi-retired in Woodstock.
Writing in 1971, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called it "one of [McCartney's] truest and most forthright love songs" and was critical of its omission from the album The Beatles. In their 1975 book The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, critics Roy Carr and Tony Tyler wrote that "Hey Jude" "promised great things" for the ill-conceived Apple enterprise and described the song as "the last great Beatles single recorded specifically for the 45s market". They noted also that "the epic proportions of the piece" encouraged many imitators, yet these other artists "[failed] to capture the gentleness and sympathy of the Beatles' communal feel".
Among more recent commentators, Alan Pollack admires "Hey Jude" as "such a good illustration of two compositional lessons – how to fill a large canvas with simple means, and how to use diverse elements such as harmony, bassline, and orchestration to articulate form and contrast." Pollack considers that the song's long coda provides "an astonishingly transcendental effect", while AllMusic's Richie Unterberger similarly opines: "What could have very easily been boring is instead hypnotic because McCartney varies the vocal with some of the greatest nonsense scatting ever heard in rock …" In his book Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald wrote that the "pseudo-soul shrieking in the fade-out may be a blemish" but he praised the song as "a pop/rock hybrid drawing on the best of both idioms". MacDonald concluded: "'Hey Jude' strikes a universal note, touching on an archetypal moment in male sexual psychology with a gentle wisdom one might properly call inspired." Lennon said the song was "one of [McCartney's] masterpieces".
Awards and accoladesEdit
"Hey Jude" was nominated for the Grammy Awards of 1969 in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but failed to win any of them. In the 1968 NME Readers' Poll, "Hey Jude" was named the best single of the year, and the song also won the 1968 Ivor Novello Award for "A-Side With the Highest Sales". In 2001, "Hey Jude" was inducted into the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Hall of Fame.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Hey Jude" at number eight on the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time", making it the highest-placed Beatles song on the list. Among its many appearances in other best-song-of-all-time lists, VH1 placed it seventh in 2000 and Mojo ranked it at number 29 in the same year, having placed the song seventh in a 1997 list of "The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time". In 1976, the NME ranked it 38th on the magazine's "Top 100 Singles of All Time", and the track appeared at number 77 on the same publication's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2014. In January 2001, "Hey Jude" came in third on Channel 4's list of the "100 Greatest Singles". The Amusement & Music Operators Association ranks "Hey Jude" as the 11th-best jukebox single of all time. In 2008, the song appeared in eighth place on Billboard's "All Time Hot 100 Songs".
In July 2006, Mojo placed "Hey Jude" at number 12 on its list of "The 101 Greatest Beatles Songs" (between "Eleanor Rigby" and "Come Together"). On a similar list compiled four years later, Rolling Stone ranked the song at number seven.
In 2015, the ITV program "The Nation's Favourite Beatles Number One" ranked Hey Jude number one in the show's countdown.
Julian Lennon discovered that "Hey Jude" had been written for him almost twenty years after McCartney composed the song. He recalled of his and McCartney's relationship: "Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit – more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad." In 1996, Julian paid £25,000 for the recording notes to "Hey Jude" at an auction. He spent a further £35,000 at the auction, buying John Lennon memorabilia. John Cousins, Julian Lennon's manager, stated at the time: "He has a few photographs of his father, but not very much else. He is collecting for personal reasons; these are family heirlooms if you like."
In 2002, the original handwritten lyrics for the song were nearly auctioned off at Christie's in London. The sheet of notepaper with the scrawled lyrics had been expected to fetch up to £80,000 at the auction, which was scheduled for 30 April 2002. McCartney went to court to stop the auction, claiming the paper had disappeared from his West London home. Richard Morgan, representing Christie's, said McCartney had provided no evidence that he had ever owned the piece of paper on which the lyrics were written. The courts decided in McCartney's favour and prohibited the sale of the lyrics. They had been sent to Christie's for auction by Frenchman Florrent Tessier, who said he purchased the piece of paper at a street market stall in London for £10 in the early 1970s. In the original catalogue for the auction, Julian Lennon had written, "It's very strange to think that someone has written a song about you. It still touches me."
Cover versions and performancesEdit
"Hey Jude" was one of the few Beatles songs that Elvis Presley covered, when he rehearsed the track at his 1969 Memphis sessions with producer Chips Moman, a recording that appeared on the 1972 album Elvis Now. A medley of the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Hey Jude" was included on the 1999 reissue of Presley's 1970 live album On Stage.
A 1968 cover by Wilson Pickett attracted success and attention for the guitar work, by a young Duane Allman. Eric Clapton commented, "I remember hearing [it] and calling either Ahmet Ertegun or Tom Dowd and saying, 'Who's that guitar player?'...To this day, I've never heard better rock guitar playing on an R&B record. It's the best."
"Weird Al" Yankovic included "Hey Jude" in his first polka medley, "Polkas on 45", from his 1984 album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D. Katy Perry performed a cover of the song as part of the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year concert honouring McCartney.
Paul McCartney sang the song in the closing moments of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics hosted in London. On 4 August 2012, McCartney led the crowd in a rendition of "Hey Jude" while watching cycling at the velodrome.
Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, bass, handclaps John Lennon – backing vocal, acoustic guitar, handclaps George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar, handclaps Ringo Starr – backing vocal, drums, tambourine, handclaps Uncredited 36-piece orchestra – 10 violins, three violas, three cellos, two double basses, two flutes, two clarinets, one bass clarinet, one bassoon, one contrabassoon, four trumpets, two horns, four trombones, and one percussion instrument; 35 of these musicians on additional backing vocals and handclaps[nb 10] Personnel per Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn.
Australia (Kent Music Report) 1 Australia (Go-Set National Top 40) 1 Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 1 Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 1 Canada (CHUM) 1 Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1 Denmark 1 Finland 2 France (SNEP) 1 Germany (Official German Charts) 1 Ireland (IRMA) 1 Italy (FIMI) 4 Japan (Oricon International Chart) 1 Japan (Oricon Singles Chart) 5 Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 1 Netherlands (Single Top 100) 1 New Zealand (RIANZ) 1 Norway (VG-lista) 1 Poland 2 Spain (AFE) 1 Sweden 1 Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 1 UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 1 US Billboard Hot 100 1 US Cash Box 1 US Record World 1 Yugoslavia (Džuboks) 1
1976 Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 20 Netherlands (Single Top 100) 16 UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 12 1988 UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 52 2010 Belgium (Back Catalogue Singles Flanders) 4 Netherlands (Single Top 100) 59 UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 40 2011 Netherlands (Single Top 100) 99 2012 Japan Hot 100 Singles 53 France (SNEP) 174
Australia (Kent Music Report) 1 Australia (Go-Set National Top 40) 23 Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40) 6 Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 11 Canada (RPM 100) 1 Italy (FIMI) 31 Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 4 Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 8 UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 1 US Billboard Hot 100 1 US Cash Box 1
Australia (Go-Set National Top 40) 35
US Billboard Hot 100 10
United States (RIAA) 4× Platinum 4,000,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone