Originally titled “Hey Jules”, Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in an attempt to comfort Julian Lennon, John and Cynthia’s son, during their divorce. In 1968, John and Cynthia Lennon separated due to his affair with Yoko Ono. Sometime after this, McCartney drove out to visit Julian and Cynthia. Later, Cynthia recalled, “I was truly surprised when, one afternoon, Paul arrived on his own. 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.”
About the original title of the song, Paul McCartney said, “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 … I had the idea [for the song] by the time I got there. I changed it to ‘Jude’ because I thought that sounded a bit better.”
It would be almost twenty years after McCartney wrote the song that Julian would discover that it had been written for him. He remembered being closer to McCartney than to his own father: “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.”
When the Beatles landed on US soil in February 1964, it was George Harrison‘s second trip to the states. While on vacation in September 1963, he visited his sister, Louise, at 113 McCann Street in Benton, Illinois. The home where he stayed in is now the Hard Day’s Nite Bed and Breakfast. While in Illinois, Harrison also performed with a band at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Eldorado.
In an interview, Louise recalled “his real first visit to America was when he came to the midwest in September of 1963 and he met these wonderful, warm, friendly, real warm Midwesterners… school teachers, retired miners and all kinds of just wonderful people… and a little band. He had a fantastic time. He thought they were just wonderful people.”
Julian Lennon made his musical debut at age 11 playing drums on his father’s first studio version of “Ya-Ya”. The 1974 recording would appear as the last track on John Lennon’s ‘Walls and Bridges’ album. This short, casual version of the song features just Julian on drums, and John on piano and vocals.
May Pang later recalled that Julian was disappointed when he found out the recording would make the ‘Walls and Bridges’ album, telling his father “If I’d known, I would have played better”.
“Ya-Ya” was originally performed by Lee Dorsey in 1961 and later covered again by John in a full length version on his “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album.
Click the Play button to hear the version with Julian:
John Lennon was the first Beatle to marry when he wed Cynthia Powell on August 23, 1962, at the Mount Pleasant Register office in Liverpool. They decided to marry after finding out Cynthia was pregnant with Julian. For a while, John hid the fact that he was married and had a child, fearing there might be a backlash from female fans knowing their idol was “taken.” As it turns out, when his status as a family man was revealed it didn’t affect his popularity with fans.
John and Cynthia would later divorce in 1968.