The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’: Paul McCartney Received Letters From Cults About the Lyrics

TL;DR:

  • Paul McCartney compared one of the lyrics of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” to a mutt.
  • He received letters about the lyric.
  • The track became a huge hit.
Paul McCartney wearing a suit during The Beatles' "Hey Jude" era
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney | Bettmann / Contributor

Paul McCartney initially had an issue with a lyric from The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude.” He later came to love the line. Subsequently, he received letters from cults about the lyric.

Paul McCartney felt 1 of the lyrics from The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ is ‘terribly deep’

According to the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul had doubts about the line “the movement you need is on your shoulder” from “Hey Jude.” John convinced him to retain the lyric. “So of course, you love that line twice as much because it’s a little stray, it’s a little mutt that you were about to put down and it was reprieved and so it’s more beautiful than ever,” Paul said.

Paul felt the line was profound. “Of course, I now feel that those are terribly deep words; I’ve had letters from religious groups and cults saying, ‘Paul, you understand what this means, don’t you? The wherewithal is there, whatever you want to do,'” he said.

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Paul McCartney thinks of John Lennon whenever he sings a line from the song

Paul changed his mind about the lyric over time. “And it is a great line, but I was going to change it because it sounded like a parrot or something; not entirely logical,” he revealed. “Time lends a little credence to things.”

Paul revealed the line reminds him of someone else. “You can’t knock it, it just did so well,” he said. “But when I’m singing it, that is when I think of John, when I hear myself singing that line; it’s an emotional point in the song.”

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The way ‘Hey Jude’ performed on the pop charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Hey Jude” became The Beatles’ longest-running No. 1 single in the United States. The track topped the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks. The track appeared on the compilation album 1. The compilation was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for eight weeks, remaining on the chart for 529 weeks in total. It outperformed all of the Fab Four’s other compilations in the U.S.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Hey Jude” was popular in the United Kingdom too. For two weeks in the 1960s, the tune was No. 1 in the U.K. It stayed on the chart for 19 weeks.

Many of The Beatles’ singles were released again in the U.K. during the 1980s. In 1988, “Hey Jude” recharted at No. 52, staying on the chart for two weeks. 1 became a hit in the U.K., topping the chart for nine weeks. The compilation remained on the chart for 380 weeks altogether.

“Hey Jude” was a huge hit — and it inspired some letters from cults.

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