Hey Jude: Unravelling the Meaning Behind John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Lyrics

by Alex Harris

10th July, 2023

Hey Jude: Unravelling the Meaning Behind John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Lyrics


When it comes to iconic songs, few can match the enduring popularity and emotional resonance of Hey Jude by The Beatles. This timeless classic has captivated audiences for decades, but what is the true meaning behind the lyrics?

In this article, we will delve deep into the song’s origins, explore the different interpretations, and uncover the personal stories that shaped its creation.

Join us on this journey as we unravel the mysteries of Hey Jude and gain a deeper understanding of its significance.

The Birth of Hey Jude

Hey Jude was born out of a period of transition and emotional turmoil for The Beatles. In 1968, John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, were going through a divorce, while Paul McCartney had recently ended his engagement with Jane Asher. It was during this time that McCartney visited Cynthia and their son Julian, seeking to provide comfort and support during their difficult circumstances. It was in his car, as he left Cynthia’s home, that McCartney began crafting the song that would become Hey Jude.

The original title of the song was Hey Jules, a direct reference to Julian Lennon. McCartney’s intention was to console the young boy and offer him reassurance during the challenging times he was facing. The lyrics were a heartfelt message, urging Julian to stay strong and find solace in the love and support of those around him. As McCartney later revealed, he wanted to create “a reassurance song” for Julian.

The Beatles – Hey Jude

The Evolution of the Lyrics

As the song evolved, McCartney made a significant change to the title because he liked the sound of the name Jude, and decided to alter the name to Hey Jude. This change not only enhanced the musicality of the song but also added a universal appeal to its message.

By shifting the focus from Julian to a more general audience, McCartney ensured that Hey Jude would resonate with listeners from all walks of life.

The lyrics of Hey Jude contain several key lines that capture the essence of the song’s meaning. The opening line, “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad,” serves as a gentle reminder that bad times are temporary and can be overcome with resilience and love. The repeated refrain of “Na na na na” creates a sense of unity and encourages listeners to join in and find solace in the collective experience of the song.

The Interpretations of Hey Jude

While the song was written primarily for Julian Lennon, there have been various interpretations of the lyrics that go beyond its original intention. John Lennon himself believed that Hey Jude was directed at him, seeing it as a message from McCartney to embrace his relationship with Yoko Ono. Lennon even pointed to specific lines in the song, such as “You were made to go out and get her,” as evidence of McCartney’s support for his new love interest.

Another interpretation suggests that McCartney may have written Hey Jude as a way to comfort himself during the end of his relationship with Jane Asher. The emotional resonance of the song could have served as a source of solace for McCartney, reminding him that even in the midst of heartbreak, there is hope for healing and renewal.

Facts About Hey Jude

Now that we’ve explored the meaning and interpretations of Hey Jude, let’s dive into some fascinating facts about this iconic song:

  • Hey Jude was the first single released by Apple Records, the record label founded by The Beatles in 1968.
  • The song was produced by the legendary George Martin, who was knighted in 1996 for his contributions to the music industry.
  • With a runtime of approximately 7 minutes and 11 seconds, Hey Jude was initially the longest single ever released.
  • Despite its length, the song became a massive hit, reaching number one in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The lyrics of “Hey Jude” contain a memorable line that almost didn’t make it into the final version. McCartney initially disliked the line “The movement you need is on your shoulder,” but John Lennon convinced him to keep it, recognising its profound impact on the overall message of the song.

The Legacy of Hey Jude

Since its release, Hey Jude has become one of the most beloved and enduring songs in popular music. Its universal message of hope, resilience, and love has resonated with generations of listeners, cementing its place in the cultural fabric of society. The song’s ability to uplift and unite people, as demonstrated by the iconic sing-along fadeout, has made it a staple at concerts and events worldwide.

From Paul McCartney’s heartfelt gesture of support to Julian Lennon to the interpretations that extend beyond its original intention, Hey Jude continues to capture the hearts and minds of millions. Its timeless message remains relevant, reminding us all that even in our darkest moments, there is light and hope to be found.

So next time you hear those familiar opening chords and the infectious melody of Hey Jude, take a moment to reflect on the meaning behind the lyrics and the profound impact this song has had on countless lives. Let the message of hope and unity inspire you, and join in the collective experience as we sing along to this timeless classic. Hey Jude, don’t be afraid; you’ve got this.


In conclusion, Hey Jude is much more than just a song. It is a powerful expression of love, support, and resilience. From its humble beginnings as a heartfelt message to Julian Lennon, the song has transcended its original intent and become a universal anthem of hope and unity. Its timeless lyrics and uplifting melody continue to inspire and comfort listeners around the world.

As we’ve explored the origins and interpretations of Hey Jude, we’ve discovered the deep emotional significance behind the song. Whether it’s comforting a young boy caught in the midst of his parents’ divorce or offering solace to individuals navigating their own personal struggles, Hey Jude has the power to touch hearts and remind us all of the strength found in love and community.

So the next time you find yourself singing along to Hey Jude, remember the profound meaning behind the lyrics. Allow the song to uplift your spirits, provide comfort in difficult times, and remind you that you are not alone. Hey Jude, take a sad song and make it better.

Previous post

Be the first and never miss an update!

2024 © All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram