The depressing song that Paul McCartney wrote for Julian Lennon did not make things better for him.
In a recent episode of Club Random Podcast, the musician, photographer, and son of late Beatles legend John Lennon opened up to talk show host and self-described “Beatlephile” Bill Maher about his opinions on the Fab Four’s hit song “Hey Jude.” Lennon disclosed that he was considering publishing a memoir about his life during the podcast interview. Maher then introduced the topic of “Hey Jude” by joking that the “hook” of McCartney visiting a young Julian after his parents’ divorce should be the first scene in the movie adaptation of his life. Despite having experienced the suggested event firsthand, John Lennon didn’t appear to find it all that amusing.
I have to admit that I have a love-hate connection with it, Julian said. “Compared to most individuals alive, I have probably heard the song and various variations of it more times. Even my close friends send me babies in diapers singing and playing guitars, which is something I really don’t need.
Without a doubt, Lennon said, he was grateful for the well-intentioned song, “but the other real thing is that people don’t really understand that it’s a stark and dark reminder of actually what happened.”
“Dad abandoned Mum and I because he walked out, went away. That was a time of total transformation, total upheaval, total gloom, and total melancholy. Even though I was only three, I could see that something wasn’t right. But it was awful for Mum. It serves as a recall of that period and location. I can understand all sides of it, but many people may not be aware that the music has a gloomy, yin and yang side.
In 1968, The Beatles’ biggest single in the country was released. The lyrics of “Hey Jude,” originally “Hey Jules,” were written by Paul McCartney in the summer of 1968 when he drove to see John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia and their son during a contentious divorce that implicated a certain Yoko Ono.
The words were intended to be “a hopeful message for Julian: Come on, man, your parents got divorced,” McCartney said. You won’t stay unhappy forever, I know.
Lennon took control of the name by releasing his seventh studio album, “Jude,” in September of last year. In a nod to one of McCartney’s lyrics from the original 1968 hit, he said to iHeart Radio at the time that he genuinely did want to take the depressing song and make it better. According to him, his late mother, who passed away in 2015, was “the be-all and end-all of life for me, and everything I do is about making her proud at the end of the day.”
This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.