The Inspiration Behind “Hey Jude”

On this day September 18, 1996, Julian Lennon made the winning bid of just over $39,000 (£21,000) at Sotheby’s in London for the recording notes for the song “Hey Jude,” which Paul McCartney wrote for young Julian to comfort and encourage him during his parents’ divorce.

Originally titled “Hey Jules,” Paul McCartney comments on the song’s background in his Anthology:

“I thought, as a friend of the family, I would motor out to Weybridge and tell them that everything was all right: to try and cheer them up, basically, and see how they were. I had about an hour’s drive. I would always turn the radio off and try and make up songs, just in case… I started singing: ‘Hey Jules – don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better…’ It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian: ‘Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you’re not happy, but you’ll be OK.’

I eventually changed ‘Jules’ to ‘Jude’. One of the characters in Oklahoma! is called Jud, and I like the name.”

At the same auction, John Lennon’s scribbled lyrics for “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” sold for $103,500, (£57,500).

Here is “Hey Jude,” first released as a non-album single on August 26, 1968, and consoling the world ever since.