Written: Lennon/McCartney Length: 7:08 UK single release: August 30, 1968 UK chart position: 1 US single release: August 26, 1968 US chart position: 1
As John and Yoko started living together, not surprisingly, divorce proceedings began between John and Cynthia. An interim agreement was reached whereby Cynthia and Julian were allowed to stay at Kenwood while the two repsondents took up residence in a Montagu Square flat in central London.
Paul had always enjoyed a close relationship with John’s son Julian, then five years old and, to show support for mother and child during the break-up, he drove down to Weybridge from his home in St. John’s Wood bearing a single red rose. Paul often used driving time to work out new songs and, on this day, with Julian’s uncertain future on his mind, he started singing ‘Hey Julian’ and improvising lyrics on the theme of comfort and reassurance. At some point during the hour-long journey, ‘Hey Julian’ became ‘Hey Jules’ and Paul developed the lines, ‘Hey Jules, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better’. It was only later, when he came out to flesh the lyric, that he changed Jules to Jude, feeling that Jude was a name that sounded stronger. He had liked the name Jude when he’d seen the musical Oklahoma.
The song then became less specific. John believed it was addressed to him, encouraging him to make the break from the Beatles and build a new future with Yoko (‘You were made to go out and get her…’). Paul felt that, if it was addressed to anyone, it was to himself, dealing with the adjustments he knew that he was going to have to make as old bonds were broken within the Beatles.
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.