Recording "Hey Jude"

Wednesday, July 31, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Hey Jude / Revolution 7" Single.
Timeline More from year 1968
Studio:
Trident Studios, London, UK

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About

After two days of rehearsals and rough takes spent on “Hey Jude“, The Beatles moved from Abbey Road to Trident Studios, to benefit from the eight-track recording facilities and record the song in a proper way. From The Beatles Monthly Book, September 1968, N°62:

Then, on the Wednesday, we moved from EMI to Trident which is where the rest of the work was done on “Hey Jude”. In fact a fresh version of the number was started from scratch with George on electric guitar, Paul on piano and Ringo playing the tambourine. To the first backing tracks Paul added his solo vocal and then the others joined him to put on the harmony stuff.

Mal Evans

Such independent studios were setting up all over London. They were really trying to attract work and were installing new technology which was leaving the EMIs and Deccas a bit behind.

Ken Townsend – Engineer

Paul McCartney had already been at Trident when he very recently produced Mary Hopkin and when George produced Jackie Lomax.

The first task of the day was to transfer Take 25, recorded the day before, from EMI’s four-track tape to Trident’s eight-track tape to allow for more overdubs. But in the end, it was decided to restart from scratch.

Four takes of the rhythm track were recorded, with Paul McCartney on piano and guide vocals, John Lennon on acoustic guitar, George Harrison on electric guitar and Ringo Starr on drums. Take 1 was considered to be the best.

It was during this day that the line “She has found you now go and get her” was turned into “You have found her now go and get her“.

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

There is an amusing story about recording it. We were at Trident Studios in Soho, and Ringo walked out to go to the toilet and I hadn’t noticed. The toilet was only a few yards from his drum booth, but he’d gone past my back and I still thought he was in his drum booth. I started what was the actual take, and Hey Jude goes on for hours before the drums come in and while I was doing it I suddenly felt Ringo tiptoeing past my back rather quickly, trying to get to his drums. And just as he got to his drums, boom boom boom, his timing was absolutely impeccable. So I think when those things happen, you have a little laugh and a light bulb goes off in your head and you think, This is the take! And you put a little more into it. You think, oh, fuck! This has got to be the take, what just happened was so magic! So we did that and we made a pretty good record.

Engineer Geoff Emerick cites this other anecdote in his book “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006 (even if he was not at the session):

Just after the start of the third verse, right between the lines ‘The minute you let her under your skin / Oh, then you begin,’ you can clearly hear Paul curse off mic, saying ‘F#cking hell!’ (Engineer) John Smith had a vivid memory of John Lennon pointing that out when they were playing the tape back. ‘Paul hit a clunker on the piano and said a naughty word,’ Lennon gleefully crowed, ‘but I insisted we leave it in, buried just low enough so that it can barely be heard. Most people won’t ever spot it…but we’ll know it’s there.’ That was just the kind of sophomoric humor Lennon was into, but I have to admit it’s amusing to think that millions of fans have heard the record millions of times without ever realizing that it contains a dreaded four-letter word that was strictly taboo back in 1968.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

According to John Perry, of the band Grapefruit, this “Fucking hell!” was not said by Paul but by himself:

One notable evening, 30th July 1968 was spent in the studio in one of [The Beatles’] sessions for a change. To begin at the beginning, we had some free time and I was out carousing (as you do) in Wardour St. visiting the Ship pub, and later Jack Barry’s bar, which everybody did in those days. I hadn’t got to Jack’s Bar yet and I was sitting in the pub nursing a beer feeling pretty flat, with nothing going on, when suddenly I remembered that somebody had mentioned that ‘the Boys’ were going to be recording at Trident Studios in St Anne’s Court, just around the corner from the pub.

This seemed infinitely more interesting than what I was doing, so I went along and knocked on the door. It was opened by BIG Mal Evans The lovely Beatles roadie I’d met at IBC studios, who obviously knew me and said, “Hi John, the Boys are in here tonight d’ you wanna come in?” I was through that door before he could even blink.

It was here I watched the boys in action. It seemed that the piano and drums had been previously recorded as had the lead vocal, I’m pretty sure including the screaming ad libs on the end. So I witnessed John and George tracking on those lead guitar bits in the control room, watched Paul add his bass line, in the large downstairs room, which was phenomenal. I had always been a great admirer of Paul’s bass lines, they were almost songs in themselves having a melody and a groove that really fit whatever song he was working on. After this the Boys came around the Neumann mic setup in the middle of the floor of the big downstairs room and started adding the 3 part (drifters type) harmonies. All’s great and I’m very happy watching all this,’til they came to the part of the song that goes, ‘better, better, better, AAAAH’. I was by this time sitting on the floor just watching this film-like event unfold before me with the 4 Beatles around the mike singing various bits when the track got to the middle of the verse prior to the Better, better, bit. Paul, suddenly looks over in my direction and ushers me over to join them.

I look around to see who he’s talking to, and seeing only a wall concluded quite brightly that he must be talking to me. I get up and start to walk towards the mic (which J, P, G and R are standing around) – the track is still recording. Paul once again gestures at some headphones lying on the floor. I reach down and put them on, they are SO LOUD that I shout out ‘f**king hell’ (to my eternal shame or glory depending on your standpoint!). I then (nervously) sang along with the Beatles, the first layer of na-na-na’s (after the better better part) going right to the end of the song.

You know I can hardly believe I was there myself but I guess the proof that I was, unless Paul or Ringo can confirm, is that my expletive (undeleted) can still be heard on the record at about 2.59 where the line ‘Remember to let her under your skin, Then you begin, to make it better, better better, AAAH!’ under the word ‘BEGIN’. It’s clearly not a Liverpudlian accent – and as I was the only cockney in there…

John Perry – From grapefruit-booklet-uncorrected-CopyTHIS-ONE.pdf (heartrecords.org)

The Beatles returned to Trident Studios the day after, to complete the recording of “Hey Jude“.

From Twitter – Paul outside Trident Studios, London, 1968. Photo by Linda McCartney #ThrowbackThursday #TBT

Last updated on September 19, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 1


2.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 2


3.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 3


4.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 4


5.

Hey Jude

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 1

Staff

Musicians on Hey Jude

Paul McCartney:
Piano, Guided vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar
George Harrison:
Electric guitar

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Barry Sheffield:
Engineer

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

The Beatles Bible

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1968/07/31/recording-hey-jude-2/

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