The Cars debut album was a commercial and critical success. The pressure was on for a follow-up, and the band delivered big time with their 2nd album, “Candy-O“. The album was packed with more Cars classics, including the subject of this episode, “It’s All I Can Do”, a song that shows the strengths of each band member– everyone contributing something special top this great track.

“It’s All I Can Do” (Ric Ocasek) Copyright 1979 Lido Music Inc

…and check out this previous episode on The Cars:
lovethatsongpodcast.com/the-cars-just-what-i-needed/

TRANSCRIPT:

Time for another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, sending these love letters to the music we cherish, care of the Pantheon podcast Network. Each episode I pick a favorite song and we look at it in detail, trying to understand what makes it a great song. You don’t have to be a musician or have any advanced knowledge, because we don’t get into music theory or technical stuff here. If you’re willing to listen, then this podcast is for you.

On this episode, we’re exploring a track from a band that came onto the scene as the 70’s were coming to a close, and their sound was critical in launching the sound of the 80’s. This is The Cars with “It’s All I Can Do”.

We talked about The Cars on this show once before, back in episode number 43, “Just What I Needed”. So you can check out that episode for an overview of the band’s history. This time, we’ll pick up where that episode left off.

They released that first album in June 1978. A year later, their second album, “Candy-O”, hit the shelves. That first album was considered one of the strongest debut albums of all time, and it still is. Rolling Stone ranks it in their Top 20 Greatest Debut Albums. So when it came time to record their second album, the pressure was on, and they delivered… no sophomore slump here.

“Candy-O” ended up charting higher than the debut album. It made it to #3 and would eventually sell over 4 million copies. There were three singles released off of “Candy-O”. “It’s All I Can Do” was the second single. The song features Rick Ocasek on rhythm guitar, Elliot Easton on lead guitar, Greg Hawks on keyboards, David Robinson on drums, and Benjamin Orr on bass and lead vocals.

The song begins with a bass drum hit and a quick open and close of the hi-hat. One guitar on the left with a slightly distorted tone is playing staccato, muted power chords. The bass in the center is duplicating that guitar part. On the right, there’s another guitar playing smoothly strummed, ringing chords. Sounds like there’s maybe some reverb, perhaps some chorus effect on that guitar. The rest of the tracks are pretty dry, and Greg Hawks is playing a simple but effective melody on the keyboards.

Rick Ocasek is universally acknowledged as the architect of The Cars’ sound, and he wrote all the songs on the album; but every member of the band contributed something special, and to me, the magic ingredient of the best Cars songs is the vocals of Benjamin Orr. He had a great voice and so perfectly suited to The Cars sound.

For the second half of the verse, the guitar that was playing those clean, ringing chords on the right is going to suddenly shift to playing heavy, distorted chords. Listen for the change.

Then David Robinson is going to do a short drum fill on the toms to launch us into the first chorus, and those toms are pretty high in the mix.

The instrumentation behind the chorus is pretty minimal, not a lot of overdubs, just the basic band performing, but each player is doing something just a little different enough that it sounds nice and full, with Greg Hawke’s melodic keyboard part just riding on top. Let’s bring the vocals back in and listen to that again.

Both The Cars’ first album and “Candy-O” were produced by Roy Thomas Baker, one of the most famous and successful producers of the 1970s. Baker is probably most known for working with Queen, including producing “Bohemian Rhapsody”, so he knew how to layer vocals. Though the cars kept the production tricks to a minimum on this album, there are moments where the Roy Thomas Baker effect shines through those rich backing vocals at the end of the chorus. Here is a good example.

That chorus leads immediately into the second verse, and notice that clean, ringing guitar is back.

That’s one of my favorite lines in the song—“When I was crazy, I thought you were great.” We’ve probably all had a time in our lives where we were so crazy in love that we couldn’t see just how bad that person was for us.

And the distorted guitar returns.

Greg Hawkes is playing pretty much the same keyboard part that he played on the first chorus, but he’s using a different sound this time. Here’s the sound again from the first chorus. And here’s the keyboard sound on this second chorus. They add an extra six beats in there to lead us into the guitar solo.

And I’ve mentioned before on this show that I love Elliot Easton’s guitar playing. And this is another great example of a tasteful, melodic, memorable guitar solo by Elliot Easton. Check it out.

One thing we haven’t looked at yet is David Robinson’s drum part on the verses. What he’s doing is pretty subtle, but it’s not just a straightforward drum beat. He’s put some pretty clever twists into it. Let’s listen.

Also on this final verse, Greg Hawkes has added a new keyboard part. You can imagine a string section playing this part. It really adds a new layer of drama to this last verse. Listen to how it builds through to the end of the verse.

And that’s another great line; “As soon as you get it, you want something new”.  How many of you have been on one end of that in a relationship?

Listen to the way the guitar and the keyboard are going to answer each other. It’s the guitar on the right, the keyboard on the left.

Like the way Benjamin sings this line here.

“It’s All I Can Do” by The Cars

The Cars released six albums between 1970 – 1987. Five of them were top 20 hits. Four of them reached the top ten. They split up in 1988.

Benjamin Orr died from cancer in 2000. The remaining members reformed for one more album in 2011. But without Benjamin Orr, it just wasn’t the same.

Rick Ocasek died in 2019. David Robinson has more or less retired from the music business and owns an art gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts. Elliot Easton is still active and has a number of musical projects that keep him busy, and Greg Hawkes does session and touring work, working frequently with Todd Rungren.

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to listen to this show. I always appreciate it. New episodes of the podcast come out on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so I’ll be back soon with another episode. You can keep in touch with the show on our Facebook page, or on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com, where you’ll also find all of our previous episodes. And you can find the show on your favorite source of podcasts, whether it’s Amazon, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher– wherever you listen to podcasts, you’ll find this show. We are part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, the place for music related podcasts, so be sure to check out some of the other shows, too.

Thanks again for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast featuring The Cars and “It’s All I Can Do”.

REFERENCES:

The Cars
https://www.thecars.org/

Candy-O (Album)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy-O

Rolling Stone (Greatest Debut Albums)
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/best-debut-albums-of-all-time-143608/the-cars-1978-163377/

Roy Thomas Baker
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Thomas_Baker

Bohemian Rhapsody
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Rhapsody

David Robinson’s Art Gallery
http://www.rockportartassn.org/

Elliot Easton
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliot_Easton

Greg Hawkes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Hawkes

‘I’m in Love with that Song’ Podcast Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/lovethatsongpodcast

Pantheon Podcast Network
https://www.pantheonpodcasts.com/

Introducing a new segment of the podcast – “Creation & Evolution“, where we explore songs that travelled a long & winding road before they reached their final version. In this episode, we trace the history of a song that started from a phone call with Farrah Fawcett and ended up as Gladys Knight’s biggest hit.

“Midnight Train To Georgia” (Jim Weatherly) Copyright 1971, 1973 Universal-PolyGram International Publishing, Inc

TRANSCRIPT:

There’s the telltale theme music… it means it must be time for another episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network.  My name is Brad Page, and I’m your musical tour guide, your geologist of another sort, as we explore the rock that made history.

This time, I’m introducing a new segment I’m calling “Creation and Evolution”, where we’ll take a look at both the birth and the journey a song takes before it ends up in its final form. Some songs have a rather short path from the writer’s pen to the final release, but some songs take the long way around, and that’s what we’re going to explore here on “Creation and Evolution”.

For example, what do airplanes, Houston Texas, and Farrah Fawcett have to do with “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips? Let’s find out.

Jim Weatherly was a songwriter from Mississippi who had written a few songs for Dean Martin and Peggy Lee. No hits, though he hadn’t really made his mark yet. One day in 1970, Weatherly called his friend, a struggling actor named Lee Majors, who would find fame as TV’s “Six Million Dollar Man”.

Majors wasn’t around, but his girlfriend, a struggling actress named Farah Fawcett, picked up the phone. She, of course, would eventually star in “Charlie’s Angels”.

Farah and Weatherly got to talking, and she told him she was just about to head out of LA to visit her family, leaving on a midnight plane to Houston. That phrase, “midnight plane to Houston”, stuck in his head. And as soon as he got off the phone, he sat down and in about 40 minutes, he wrote a whole song.

He based the song loosely on Fawcett and Majors. It was about a girl who went to LA to make it big, but when it doesn’t work out, she goes back home and her boyfriend follows her back. Weatherly recorded the song and included it on his 1972 solo album called Weatherly.

It’s a pretty modern country song, but the publisher had some faith in it and sent it around, hoping to find other artists to cover it. They even offered it to Gladys Knight.

But at this point, she passed on it.

They pitched it to another artist, singer Sissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mom. She liked the song, but not the title. She said, “my people are from Georgia, and they didn’t take planes to Houston or anywhere else”. They took trains. And this is just a guess, but I think she might have been concerned about some confusion since her name was Houston and the song was about the city of Houston. Either way, Weatherly agreed to change the lyrics to “Midnight Train to Georgia”.

And besides the title change, this version also changes the genders. Now it’s the man who has failed and is going back home, and it’s the woman who follows him.

Sissy Houston released her version in February 1973.

Meanwhile, in 1973, Gladys Knight and the Pips had left Motown Records and signed a deal with Buddha Records, which gave her more freedom to pick her own material. By this time, Gladys had already had a hit with another Jim Weatherly song, “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye” in 1972.

And when Gladys heard Sissy Houston’s version of “Midnight Train to Georgia”, she knew she could make it work.  She envisioned it as an Al green style soul number.

Producer Tony Camillo had worked with everyone from Diane Warwick to Grand Funk Railroad. It was his job to record the instrumental tracks for “Midnight Train” for Gladys. But she wasn’t happy with what he came up with. Too polished, too orchestrated. She wanted something more stripped down. So he cut another version– and she rejected that one, too.

So working with engineer Ed Stasium, who would later become a legendary producer in his own right, working with The Ramones, Talking Heads, Motorhead and Living Color, just to name a few, they put together a small band: Jeff Mirinoff on guitar, Bob Babbitt on bass, Andrew Smith on drums, and Tony Camillo himself on piano. They banged out a simple backing track in an hour and sent it to Gladys, and that was exactly what she was looking for. They overdubbed horns and some strings, but for the most part, they kept it straightforward.

Gladys recorded her vocal in almost one take. No warm up, no run through, no punch-ins. She was well rehearsed and she knew what she wanted. She stepped up to the mic and four minutes later it was almost done. Except for some ad libs at the end, which we’ll get to later.

I love how she’s singing pretty softly there– she’s holding back, but then she lets loose a bit for the next part.

And here’s the first chorus.

Now, notice how the backing vocals by William Guest, Edward Patton, and Bubba Knight, along with Gladys herself, aren’t just singing harmonies or repeating lines from the lead vocal, they’re actually adding commentary. They’re in dialogue with the lead vocal. That’s something that Gladys and The Pips brought to the song. None of the other versions do that.

Here’s the second verse, and let’s bring up the vocals again so we can hear more of that interaction between the lead and the backing vocals.

I love this part.

And check out the backing vocals here.

James Jamerson is the bass player most associated with the Motown sound, and he’s a legend. But Bob Babbitt also played on many Motown classics, too, and he’s a phenomenal player as well. Let’s listen to some of Bob Babbitt’s bass work here.

You gotta love those woo-woos.

Now, I mentioned before how Gladys recorded her vocal in one take, and that’s true, right up until this point in the song. They wanted to have Gladys do some ad-libbing during the final choruses, some of those inspired, energetic interjections that can really add some emotional weight to a song.

The problem was that Gladys didn’t feel like she was a natural at that kind of thing, at least not at this point in her career. She didn’t feel comfortable and kind of froze up at the mic.

Merald Knight, who everyone called “Bubba”, was not only one of the pips, he was also Gladys’ brother.  He took a mic into the control room, and with the backing track playing, he fed Gladys some lines into her headphones, and she sang them back as the tape rolled.

Now picture Bubba Knight in that control room looking at Gladys through the glass, singing these lines to her like, “my world, his world, our world”. And she’s singing them back and putting her own spin on them.

Gladys Knight and the Pips – “Midnight Train To Georgia”.

Buddha Records issued “Midnight Train to Georgia” as a single in August 1973, and eventually it worked its way to number one. It won the Grammy for best R&B vocal performance, and it would become Gladys Knight and The Pips calling card for the rest of their career.

Of the original Pips, Edward Patton passed away in February 2005; William Guest died in December of 2015, but Merald Bubba Knight, Gladys’s brother, is still with us, and Gladys herself, as of this recording, is still alive and well.  She released her last album in 2014.

Jim Weatherly passed away in February 2021. He was 77.

Thank you for joining me for this episode. We’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, you can binge on all of our past episodes, they’re all on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com.

You can find us on Facebook to share your thoughts and feelings, just look for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, and you’ll find us. You can also send me email at lovethatsongpodcast@gmail.com.

This show is one of many great podcasts on the Pantheon Podcast Network, so be sure to seek out all those other great shows.

To listen to the song again, complete and uninterrupted, stream it, download it, or buy it and support the music you love. Thanks again for joining me for this “Creation And Evolution” episode on Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia”.

Creedence Clearwater Revival were quite the phenomenon from 1967 to 1972. During that short period– only 5 years– they racked up ten songs in the Top 20, 5 of them making it to #2. In the middle of that run, they released “Run Through The Jungle” in April 1970. The song is often identified with the Viet Nam war, but we explore the true roots of the song and listen to the individual elements that make up this great track.

“Run Through The Jungle” (John Fogerty) Copyright 1970 Jondora Music

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, friends, it’s Brad Page, host of the ““I’m In Love With That Song”” podcast here on the Pantheon Network. It’s time to put on your explorer helmet and spelunking boots one more time, because we’re about to explore another song and see what we discover. As always, no prior musical knowledge or experience is required; we don’t get technical here. If you’re willing to just listen a little more intently, and want to learn more about what goes into making a great song, you’ve come to the right place.

This time, we are heading back to 1970 to cross paths with Creedence Clearwater Revival and explore one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Run Through The Jungle”.

The band that we know as Creedence Clearwater Revival began in El Cerrito, California, sometime around 1959. Back then, they were known as the Blue Velvets: John Fogerty on guitar, his brother Tom also on guitar, and both of them shared lead vocals back then, with Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums. Here’s a single recorded by the Blue Velvets in 1961 called “Come On Baby”. It was written by Tom Fogerty, and it’s Tom singing lead.

In 1964, they signed a contract with Fantasy Records. The record company changed their name to the Gollywogs– which they hated. Blue Velvets wasn’t a great name, but I don’t know why the label thought Gollywogs was any better. I’d hate that name, too.

Anyway, the Gollywogs recorded quite a few singles. Here’s one from 1965 called, “You Got Nothing On Me”.

In 1967, the band changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their first single as CCR, a song called “Porterville”, didn’t chart. But their second single, their version of “Susie Q”, that was a hit.

“Susie Q” would be their only Top 40 hit that was not written by John Fogerty. By now, John had become the driving force in the band. He was writing the songs, he was singing the songs, he was producing the records. Creedence Clearwater Revival was now essentially John Fogarty’s band.

A boatload of hit singles would follow. We may revisit a couple of them on the show in the future, you never know. But today, we’re going to focus on the song “Run Through The Jungle”.

Originally released as a single in April 1970, it was what they used to call a “Double A-sided” single, because both sides of the 45 record were earmarked for potential hits and radio play. The other side of this single was “Up Around The Bend”, which was indeed a hit, too. Both songs were included on their album “Cosmos Factory”. Released in the summer of 1970, “Cosmos Factory” was their fifth studio album. Creedence would eventually release seven studio albums; six of them became platinum albums, selling over a million copies each. In fact, “Cosmos Factory” would go on to sell 4 million copies. It’s their biggest selling album, and in my opinion, it’s their best.

“Run Through The Jungle” was the song that closed out Side One of the album. The song opens with a pretty psychedelic effect. Sounds to me like a piano in the middle with guitars panned left and right, heavy with echo. The guitar in the right channel begins to oscillate. That’s when the echo feeds back on itself. This is an ominous way to start the song.

There’s that tambourine that sounds like a rattlesnake. And then the main guitar riff comes in, which is sitting primarily in the right channel. Tom fills and hand claps in the left channel.

The rest of the band joins in and we’re off.

And that’s pretty much it. Musically, the song stays with the same riff for the duration of the song. That repetition of the riff, it’s almost like a drone. It’s hypnotic. It sets such a mood to me, it never gets boring. Here’s the first verse.

The vocals are thick with a slapback echo. It’s very 1950s style sound. Let’s listen to John Fogarty’s vocal track.

Now, here’s something interesting. This song has often been interpreted as being about Vietnam. The song came out in 1970 when the war was still raging, and the song’s been used in movies and tv shows as a soundtrack to Vietnam era scenes. But when Fogerty wrote this song, he wasn’t thinking about the jungles of Vietnam. He was thinking about the urban jungles right here in America. Here’s a quote from John Fogerty from an interview he did with Dan Rather back in 2016. He said, “the thing I wanted to talk about was gun control and the proliferation of guns.” I think that puts a whole different spin on the imagery in the song. Let’s pick it up at the second verse.

I know gun control is a controversial issue, so I’m going to let John Fogerty speak for himself. Here’s a clip from that same interview”

“I think I remember reading around that time that there was one gun for every man, woman and child in America, which I found staggering. We’re talking about privately held guns. Um, and so at somewhere in the song, I think I say 200 million guns are loaded. Not that anyone else has the answer. I did not have the answer to the question. I just had the question. I just thought that it was disturbing that it was such a jungle for our citizens re to just to walk around in our own country, at least having to be aware that there are so many private guns, um, owned by some responsible and maybe many irresponsible people.”

Let’s hear the vocal track for this verse again. And the first line has one of those classic idiosyncratic fogey phrasings on the word “Heard”.

John Fogerty takes a harmonica solo here, but let’s check out some of the backing tracks here as well. Like all Creedence songs, they keep it pretty basic. Just a couple of guitars, bass and drums.

First, let’s check out those bass and drums. That’s a pretty gnarly bass sound. Let’s listen to a little bit of that for a while. Here’s the main electric guitar part. I think this is two separate guitar parts. One in the left, one in the right. The one on the right is louder, but it could just be one guitar. There’s so much tremolo effect on the guitars, it’s hard to tell. It’s a great riff though.

That harmonica part along with the other guitar part played by Tom Fogerty, plus some overdubbed percussion and some acoustic guitar accents.

The harmonica continues to play on in between the vocal lines.

Let’s listen to a little bit more of that harmonica’s unsettling effects from the opening of the song return some of it played backwards this time.

“Run Through The Jungle” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Here’s an interesting fun fact for you: According to the Billboard Hot 100, Creedence has the distinction of being the band with the most number two hits without any number one hits. Over the course of their career, Creedence had ten songs that made the top 25 of those made it all the way to number two, but none of them made it to number one. Just an interesting bit of trivia.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes of this show magically appear on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll see you back here in about two weeks. Until then, you can catch up with all of our previous shows on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com or on Apple Podcasts, Google, Amazon, Spotify. Basically, anywhere you can find podcasts, you’ll find our show.

You can keep in touch with us on Facebook, just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast and you can write a review on Podchaser or wherever it is that you listen to the show. And if you have friends who love music as much as you do, share this show with them. I really appreciate that.

We are part of the Pantheon network of podcasts, where you’ll find a ton of other great music related shows, so check them out.

And thanks again for listening to this episode on Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Run Through The Jungle”.

RESOURCES:

Credence Clearwater Revival
https://www.creedence-online.net

John Fogerty
http://www.johnfogerty.com

Cosmos Factory Album
https://www.discogs.com/Credence-Clearwater-Revival-Cosmos-Factory/master/32142

Dan Rather Interview with John Fogerty
https://www.axs.tv/programming/dan-rather/

Facebook Page for the Podcast
https://www.facebook.com/lovethatsongpodcast

Podchaser
https://www.podchaser.com/

It’s nearly impossible to pick the “best” Beatles song, but by nearly every measurement– sales, chart success, cultural impact– it’s hard to beat “Hey Jude”. Author James Campion‘s new book, Take A Sad Song, is an in-depth look at the history and legacy of “Hey Jude”. He joins us on this episode for a deep dive into this legendary, iconic song. A true classic.

John Lennon & Paul McCartney Copyright 1968 Northern Songs Copyright 1968 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

If you enjoyed this episode, please check out these other Beatles-related episodes:

TRANSCRIPT:

Time for another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, right here on the Pantheon Podcast Network. I’m your host, Brad Page, and on this episode, I’m joined by author James Campion. He has a new book out called “Take A Sad Song” that’s an in-depth analysis of the Beatles song “Hey Jude”. So I invited James onto the show to talk about this song and this book. This is one of the longest shows we’ve ever done, but if any song warrants this kind of attention, it’s this one. So, without any further ado, here’s my conversation with James Campion on “Hey Jude”.

Brad Page: Well, James Campion, welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. You’ve got a new book out called “Take A Sad Song” that’s an in-depth look at the Beatles song “Hey Jude”. You really take a look at this song from every possible angle. I thought the book was a fascinating read.

And the main thing we do here on this podcast is to take a deep dive into an individual song, just to try to understand what makes it work, why it’s such a great song. And I truly do love this song. But to be honest, I’ve been almost too intimidated to cover this song on this show. It just seems almost too… too big, like, I’d just be biting off more than I could chew. So that was almost too much for me to handle. So, when I heard about your book, I really had to invite you on the show to talk about this song, so we could do it together. I feel like I need your expertise here to tackle this amazing song. So let’s get into it.

I assume most Beatles fans know the history of the song, but for those that don’t know the story, maybe you can just give us the background, tell us the origin story of the song, how it came to be written.

James Campion: Many people know this, that originally the song, or the melody that Paul had in his head was, “Hey Jules”. And the way the story goes is, Paul is 26 years old; he’s on top of the world, really. Biggest man in the world. He’s the most eligible bachelor in the world. He just meets Linda, for all intents and purposes. A couple of months earlier, he’s driving out to comfort Cynthia Lennon and Julian Lennon, wife, soon to be ex-wife, and son of John Lennon, who has just met the woman he will live with until his death in 1980. Yoko Ono. All of this is happening within weeks of each other in 1968.

And what rock star on top of the world is going out to drive an hour out of his way to comfort the ex-wife of his partner and best friend since he was 15 years old? And then to write a song and to have this song to sing to Julian? And although Julian for years had no idea the song was about him, and when John first heard the song after Paul wrote it, he’s like, “wow, this song’s about me meeting Yoko”. And Paul’s kind of like, “Well, I wrote it. It’s kind of like me meeting Linda”. But the origins of the song in that little melody, because Paul McCartney is a melody machine, he wrote the song driving with his Astron Martin up to visit Julian. And it’s a fascinating story, just on the origin of the song itself.

Brad Page: Yeah, absolutely. A few facts about the song: It was released August 6, 1968, almost 54 years ago. It was number one in 18 countries, stayed on the top of the US charts at number one for nine weeks. It was the Beatles biggest selling song of 1968. Really their biggest hit ever. Right?

James Campion: In America. Yeah. It’s nine weeks and at number one 19 weeks overall.  Internationally, I think it was number one in more countries than any other Beatles song, which is fascinating in itself, Brad, because we’re talking about 1968, and part of the reason why I loved working on this book and researching it; ‘68 is such a seminal moment in American and international history, but it is a very significant moment in the history of the Beatles, because for the first time in their career, since 1962, they were going up, up, up and up, and they just kind of hung out in the middle there. After ‘67, they weren’t going up anymore. They were just kind of part of the pop pantheon. But “Hey Jude”, of course, is the exception to that.

Brad Page: It was the first single on Apple Records, which that’s pretty significant. I mean, what a way to launch your record label! Unfortunately, it was kind of all downhill from there in a lot of ways. But, man, just as a Double-A side single, it’s totally killer.

James Campion: Yeah. “Hey Jude” and “Revolution”, of course. And again, the yin and the yang of the Beatles, the John and the Paul. But also, you mentioned it again, I tried to write about this in the first chapter, all the things that it’s the first of, and it is still to this day– the largest selling debut single for a record label. And why wouldn’t it be, right? The Beatles just were already on top of the world.

Brad Page: And it’s also, I believe, the longest in terms of actual song length of any number one pop single. Is that still true today?

Speaker A: That isn’t technically. So, as you know, in the last couple of months, Taylor Swift re-released her Red album. And, one of the songs on there, and the name escapes me, I’m sorry, the title was the ten minute longer version of that song. And that came in at number one.  Before that, “American Pie” technically is longer. And that was released in 197—’71, ‘72. However, as you might remember, Brad, they split that song up. Side A was three and a half minutes or something, and Side B was four minutes. So, it wasn’t a side, a single. They fit all seven minutes and 11 seconds of “Hey Jude” on the a side of that a-b single. So up until a couple of months ago, when Taylor Swift swooped in with a ten-minute song that made it to number one, yes, “Hey Jude” was the longest running number one song ever.

They went to a different studio, not Abbey Road. They went to Trident Studios in London and recorded it on the only eight-track player recorder in London. It’s really a sonic marvel. And some of the greatest engineers and of course, George Martin produced and engineered this thing to get it to be the wonderful record. Because it’s not only a great song, it’s not only written by a great songwriter, it’s not only played by an excellent and one of the greatest bands, but it’s a great record– because there is a distinction between how good a song is or how good a record sounds. You know what I mean?

Brad Page: Right, right, yeah. Trident would later become one of the most famous recording studios in the world, but at that time, I believe they were practically a brand new studio. Right?

James Camption: They were.

Brad Page: Yeah, yeah. They were breaking them in. And as you point out in the book, the piano that McCartney plays on this track was like the house piano there at Trident. It would later go on to be performed by Rick Wakeman on Bowie’s “Life On Mars”. I believe Queen recorded “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the same piano. Is that correct?

Speaker A: That is correct, yeah.

Brad Page: So, well, let’s get into the song. The song famously opens with just Paul’s vocal and piano. In fact, the very first note that we hear is just Paul’s voice. No reverb, just really dry, which I think that just makes it really intimate. It’s like he’s right in your ear. Talking right in your singing, right in your ear.

Brad Page: On that second line, where he sings the word “bad”, he actually drops that. It’s like the lowest note that he sings, I believe, in the song. And I absolutely think that’s not a coincidence; entirely intentional, that the words he chooses to use when he sings that lowest note tend to be, like, the bummer words of the song.

James Campion: Right, right. And you hit it right on the head. Think about this: this is 1968. This is AM radio. Because that’s where you played all the big hits and the sound effects and the booming DJ’s and all the traffic reports and the sports news and the car rumbling down the street that you’re listening to this, this song, you know? And here comes Paul, completely cold, out of the blue. Literally. And he sings the title and the melody of the song. I interviewed dozens of songwriters for the book: Musicologists, psychologists, sociologists, Beatle biographers, writers, music journalists… Almost every person, too, that I interviewed said, think about when you ask someone, how does “Hey Jude” go? What do you say? “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad”. There it is. There’s the song. He’s telling you the title, he’s telling you where he’s going. It’s amazing artistry, amazing craftsmanship. And by the way, The Beatles did that better than anyone. And I went through The Beatles catalog, and you probably know this as well, Brad, how many great Beatles songs start with just their voices telling you the title?

Brad Page: Right!

James Campion: “Help”. “Nowhere Man”, “She Loves You”. I mean, there’s at least 15. And it comes right out, “Hey Jude”, he’s telling you it all right now. It’s brilliant. And getting to the second part, you were saying about the song going down and up?  Some of the musicologists I interviewed said this makes it a classic lassic ballad in the American, in the great American songbook– or in the case of Paul, the great British songbook, in the sense where you have the lilting of the voice go up and back down again, up and back down again. And the words seem to reflect that.

Brad Page: Yeah, I love the way, “don’t make it bad”, and then “take a sad song”, and he goes up. He’s literally taking a bad moment or a bad feeling and making it better as he’s singing those actual words.

Brad Page: And then he hits the word remember, and then there’s a pause.

Brad Page: That’s so conversational I think, in the way that it’s like… I mean, if I say to my kids, “remember to take out the trash”, that’s one thing; If you say, “Remember– take out the trash”. That pause in there. To me, that whether it’s intentional or not, it hits you in a very specific way.

James Campion: Again, all the musicologists that I spoke to, and some of the songwriters I spoke to, pointed out that very point. Remember, this song is written in the second person. He is talking to someone. I think a lot of listeners hear him kind of talking to them like, “buck up, it’s going to be great.” But he’s talking to someone we know; he’s talking to Jules.  If we look back, but he’s talking to the thematic Jude. And by doing that, he’s bringing you in slowly. And the way George Martin arranged this, along with The Beatles, where each instrument, an acoustic guitar comes in, the tambourine, and the height and those beautiful fills by Ringo, it’s just an incredible way of arranging this conversation that Paul is having with you.

Brad Page: And then you get the line “let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better.” So you get that internal rhyme there, which is just classic old school songwriting.

Brad Page: And like you said, he’s having a conversation, relatively specifically between two men. It doesn’t exclude a conversation with a woman; but this comes up in your book, right?

James Campion: I want to give credit where credit’s due. The great Beatle musicologist and author Tim Riley, who gave me hours of his time, had this incredible light bulb go off. And Tim said, there is definitely a line to be drawn between “She Loves You” and “Hey Jude”. And “She’s Loves You”, it’s two young men, a young man telling another young man, “hey, you better get on this because she really loves you, and you’re blowing it. Okay?” And then, “Hey Jude”, here he is, a little older, a little wiser, and he’s saying the same thing to someone. “You found her, now go and get her.” “Don’t hold back. If you’re cold, you’re only making your world colder.” This is Paul’s way of communicating again. And I love the fact that we have that lineage in the way The Beatles communicate.

Brad Page: Yeah. I mean, there have been songs of two guys sort of fighting over a girl; you know, that sort of, “well, if you don’t take her, I’m gonna.” “If you don’t treat her right, I’m gonna take her”. Neither of those songs are that. [Referring to “She Loves You” and “Hey Jude”.] Both of these songs are one friend encouraging another friend to make a move, you know, to think positive.

That’s fairly unique, I think, in sort of the macho rock and roll culture, right?

James Campion: Totally unique. And one of the things that I used to love when I was a kid is when he says, you know, “it can’t be bad”. He’s saying, “she loves you and it can’t be bad.” Now, I believe that because Paul and John both lost their mothers at a very young age. Paul, over the years, because he has lived into his seventies, he’s said many times that they got each other through. That’s the bond that they had. And I really do believe that that sentiment, that empathy that those guys put in those songs is real.

Brad Page: The acoustic guitar comes in on the stereo version. That’s in the left channel. I believe the drums are also in the, primarily in the left channel. And there’s an overdubbed tambourine. Now, there’s an interesting history of the stereo mix, right?  That the stereo mix– correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the stereo mix wasn’t done until, like, a year later or something?

James Campion: Yeah. When they were doing the Alan Klein “Hey Jude” record, which is just a bunch of singles that didn’t come out in America on a record. But interestingly enough, when they did the mono mix of “Hey Jude”, they did it from the original stereo acetate. It’s very odd– they did a stereo mix, but they didn’t do a true mono mix. They had to do a mono mix from the stereo, two tracks. And then that later was made a true… not “true”, but you know what they used to say, “fake stereo”, but, right, there was no official studio stereo version or mix of that until, like, 1970, almost when The Beatles were broken up. Oh, and by the way, the stereo version, the one you hear in the “Number Ones” album, the one you hear on the “Hey Jude” album, the one you hear today on Spotify, is not seven minutes and 11 seconds. So, in case anybody, and I’m sure people are going to come out of the woodwork when they read my book, this thing isn’t seven minutes. It’s seven minutes and 8 seconds, or seven minutes and 9 seconds. Because the stereo version they did, to get rid of the hiss, they just faded at that extra 2 seconds. And let’s face it, they’re singing “na na” for four minutes. Nobody felt they would ever notice this. But you know, uh, we’re nuts.

Brad Page: Of course! Yeah, hardcore Beatle fans are going to notice every bit of minutiae, but for the average listener…

And so, then on that second verse, you get the line, “don’t be afraid”. And again, when he says the word “afraid”, another kind of, if you will, negative word, like “bad”, he drops his voice down on that.

James Campion: Right?

Brad Page: Then there’s that line, “The minute you let her under your skin”… the songwriters in your book talk about it; usually, when you talk about somebody getting “under your skin”, it’s a negative, it’s an irritant. Right here, he’s encouraging it. He’s telling you to open up, to be vulnerable, to let that person in. You’re open to that potential irritation. But there’s a benefit there, too. There’s a positive to that. I just think it’s a really interesting turn of phrase.

James Campion: Yeah. And that’s, you know, my good friend and a gentleman I’m working on a book with currently, Adam Duritz, lead singer and main songwriter for Counting Crows. He was nice enough to give me some time for the book, and he really nailed it for me. He’s such an emotional singer and songwriter that it makes sense he would come up with this. He said, you know, Paul is writing from such a vulnerable point, and he’s saying, if you really want to love and be loved, you gotta be willing to be hurt.

Brad Page: Yes.

James Campion: You gotta let go and just lay it out there, man. Otherwise, you’re just cheating yourself and the person you love.

Brad Page: Yeah, yeah.

Brad Page: At that point, the backing vocals come in. I’m pretty sure that that’s the three of them, right? John, George, and Paul overdub, doing the, at that point, it’s the “Ah” right, the “ooh’s”. But they harmonize on the word “better”. It’s one of the few times where the backing vocals are actually hitting a word.

Brad Page: I think there’s an extra measure in there, isn’t there like a 9th measure?

James Campion: Yes, there is.

Brad Page: Yeah. There’s just that little extra measure there that kind of gives Ringo a chance to do a bit more of a fill. One of those classic Ringo drum fills with the tea towels on him.

James Campion: Right.

Brad Page: That real muffled drum sound that so classic Ringo. And he hits the ride cymbal, which is kind of an interesting choice there. That’s usually more of a chorus kind of thing, right? But he goes right for that there. And it’s so obvious in the mix. It really jumps out. That ride cymbal in the mix.

James Campion: And again, credit where credit’s due: Rob Sheffield, the great pop culture writer and music writer for Rolling Stone magazine, another guy who gave me hours of his time over and over again. He kept saying, “Ringo is the best on this song”. This song is not a song if not for Ringo. Ringo gives it all on this. Listen to Ringo here. This is a band song because Ringo’s making it a band song. He’s not letting you think that this is a singer songwriter. This isn’t Paul’s lament. This is a Beatles song. Yeah.

Brad Page: Just one of the most unique drummers. There’s a sound that you can, you know, it’s Ringo. There’s also the bass guitar comes in there, which is overdubbed by McCartney. Sometimes on Beatle tracks, the most flashy performance is the bass part. But this song, he’s really, he really holds back. It’s just very… it’s basic, and keeps the focus on the vocal and the piano part. But it’s not your typical McCartney. Sometimes the bass parts steal the show on some of the Beatles tracks, you know… not here.

James Campion: Yeah. And again, I have to give credit to the musicologists that I interviewed for the book, pointing out that Paul is writing the bass line on the piano. This is a piano bass line. He’s a bass player, but he’s adding that bass player aesthetic to the piano. And I write extensively, and I learned much about how much the piano meant to Paul as a child, getting over his mother’s death. His father used to play the piano, really engaging him into playing. The family all hung around the piano that sings songs. When he was a child, he really, to the point where Paul actually, in his twenties, when he was already a famous Beatle, took piano lessons. So he’s adding all those different elements into this bass line. And interestingly enough, when they did the live to tape version of it for the David Frost show– that famous clip, you could see it on YouTube– you see George is playing sort of a bassy guitar.

Brad Page: Yeah, the Fender VI. The Fender Bass VI, which is a six-string bass guitar.

James Campion: Yes. And just such a great subtle, you pointed out, a subtle way because Paul does, and thank goodness, add so much with his bass in all the songs and all The Beatles songs. But here, you’re right, he pulls up, he lets that piano, that left hand, really tell the story of music, right?

Brad Page: And he’s just following that. He’s not really embellishing much on the bass part, which, again, it’s fairly unique for him. I think of all his many talents, I think the one that he doesn’t, that he doesn’t give himself enough credit for is as a bass player.  He’s my favorite bass player of all time.

At that point we get to the bridge, which is a descending chord progression. I always felt that when he’s saying, “don’t carry the world on your shoulders”, the chords are descending down, and to me, that kind of feels like you’re literally taking that weight off as the chords slowly descend there.

James Campion: The Beatles used that to great effect on dozens of songs. And Paul is utilizing, and we haven’t gotten into it, and if you want to, we can, Brad; you know, the origins of two melodies that Paul had ingrained into his system. Everyone takes something and then it incorporates it, whether it’s, you know, Bach, in the case of Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys, or the Mozart pieces that were used for Stevie Wonder; Paul is using two things. And I won’t get too deeply into it. I talk about it in the book, but in that bridge, there is a little bit of The Drifters’ “Save The Last dance For Me”.

James Campion: And it was Walter Everett who pointed that out to me, and we listened to it, and it’s there. There is echoes, there are fingerprints there of the music that made Paul want to pick up an instrument, that doo-wop sound, that late fifties, early sixties. It’s really amazing how he was able to combine sort of a gospel, African-American, southern feel in with a classically structured ballad.

Brad Page: In the book, you also talk about sort of a classic Irish piece of church music that you think was influential.

James Campion: If you listen to the first notes of John Nicholson’s, Ireland’s 1917 liturgical piece called “Te Deum”. But Paul goes in a palatable, more pop, more romantic way by lifting the melody, whereas the Te Deum, it’s much more solemn, written for like an organ, where Paul, but again, he’s taking these things. And in essence, and it was pointed out to me by Professor Devers and Professor Everett that Paul sang in the Liverpool Angelical Choir in 1950. So he was born in 42, so he had been, what, eight? So Paul is singing these songs. It has to be absorbing into him. And the fact that he’s writing this sense of comfort for another person, whether it’s Julian losing his dad and his family is breaking up, or he’s trying to implore John or himself or a friend to go after that woman of his dreams, the one that will complete him. To go back to something, uh, dare I say, religious or spiritual, really does speak to how important this song was for Paul. And nobody is suggesting that Paul ripped off or stole or was taking a homage to something. I truly believe these things were subconscious, and I doubt if he has, Paul now, he’d even remember that. But I think it’s in there purposely. I think the subconscious sometimes speaks to us when we’re being creative. And Paul is giving us the density of this early liturgical piece and saying, this is, again, a very important song I’m writing here. Yeah.

Brad Page: And I mean, let’s face it, in western music, at least, you’ve only got eight notes; There’s only so many combinations. I mean, sometimes it feels limitless, but it’s all in the little tweaks and spins you put on them. But they’re absolutely, no one’s going to invent a new note that no one’s ever heard before.

James Campion: And especially in pop music, let’s face it, this is pop music, certainly popular music, and it’s now considered a classic in the sense of rock class. But again, that’s what The Beatles did so well, didn’t they? You know, they changed it up. They did break molds.

Brad Page: And the second part of the bridge, the backing vocals change from “Ah” to “Ooh”.

And you mentioned it before that this is where the song sort of takes a break. He does that little “na, na, na”.

Brad Page: And you can actually hear George playing some electric guitar behind that, which actually echoes that little melody. So the few times George actually pops, his guitar pops out of the mix there. But in the book, you describe that little break, little piano break there as almost like a moment of Zen. I love that. It is a place to take a breath almost, and subconsciously reassess or something.

James Campion: Yeah. And it also foreshadows the na-na’s at the end. Yes, Brad, again, this is the combination of that magical thing that Paul talks about dreaming “Yesterday” and writing about it, but also his tactical, the structural things that The Beatles did so well. I talked about earlier about having the name of the song sung right off the bat to get people, jumps out of the radio. Here’s the song, here’s the melody. Everything you need to know is right here. What Paul’s doing there, I think, is he’s letting us breathe, as you mentioned, and I said a moment of Zen, because he’s going back to that “Hey Jude”. And it gets back to those two notes from the liturgical piece from 1917. Again, he’s letting you take a break there. And it’s amazing when there’s silence in a song like that. And it’s very quick, but when there’s silence in a song like that, it’s on purpose. But it also is something that we, subconsciously, we don’t get. But it’s there and it’s so important, man, it does reset the song.

Brad Page: And again, we got the line “don’t let me down”, and he hits a low note on “down”, about the lowest note in the song, and then we get lifted up again. And the way he sings that line, “you have found her”– the way he hits the word “her” there…

Speaker A: He uses different phrasing. I do spend some time, and did talk to vocalists and songwriters, about Paul’s phrasing here. Paul could have gone this way or that way, but he doesn’t. He changes it up for you. So even though it’s what seems like a pretty provincial ballad, is not because of the way he’s singing it. And you mentioned earlier about how he goes down on some of these words, which are significant. I also find it very significant that the first time he goes up high and, probably the highest point of his singing until he hits that real high note before the na-nas, is when he says, “take a sad song”, like he goes there. So the “sad song” is really the underlying theme of the song. There’s the sad song. And of course, I extrapolate that out in my book. 1968 was a pretty sad year with assassinations and war and riots. And he’s saying, we are in the midst of a sad song here. And I think it was Howard Sunes, one of his biographers told me, when Paul goes to the song, when he goes to music to describe an emotion, he’s not screwing around. That’s a big deal to Paul McCartney. So again, I hate to keep bringing this back to the fact that this seemed like a really important thing for Paul, but I really do think so. I think he really knew he was onto something here and he was trying to communicate some important elements and themes.

Brad Page: Yeah, yeah. There’s an interesting part where there’s an overdubbed voice, or maybe it’s a leftover voice that says, “let it out and let it in, Hey Jude”, kind of between the regular verses.

James Campion: I love that.

Brad Page: I love that too. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the song. It happens here in sort of the third verse. And again, I always look at those things as just another creative way of giving you something new, that every time something cycles around, you’re just not repeating the first verse again. You’re building on that, you’re adding new elements. It keeps your ear interested and it makes the song exciting. It makes it something new in there that you didn’t hear before.

James Campion: You’re right. No, musically too. And that little part you’re talking about, “let it out, let it in, Hey Jude, begin”, you know, that whole bit, one of the things that was pointed out to me in his brilliant book, “The Recording Sessions”, Mark Lewison, who is the number one Beatle historian in the world, who was kind enough to send me back a couple of emails to sort of keep me on track. He lists out in that book all the parts in which, when Paul recorded it with the band, before he did the lead vocal, he recorded what they would call a guide vocal, which, you know, Brad, and they left a lot of that in that. You could hear that in there.

Brad Page: So you’ve got that there and then you’ve got John and Paul singing harmony and it’s just always so great.

James Campion: Yeah.

Brad Page: When the two of them sing together, there’s just really nothing like it. When they sing, “remember to let her into your heart” together, it’s just beautiful. John typically sings below Paul, but when you get to that line, “then you can start”, John goes high.

Brad Page: He goes over Paul. And that’s, that does not happen very much in The Beatles catalog.

James Campion: In fact, according to Tim Riley, never. That’s the only time that John went above him in a song, to his recollection. And this is a guy who’s written about every Beatles song several times. Now, I didn’t go that in depth, but I did quote him on that. Maybe somebody will go in and try to find another spot where John, now, there’s some times where John and Paul both go up—“It Won’t Be Long”, yeah, that kind of thing. And of course, “She Loves You”. And some of the high notes, they both sing, but yes, on a harmony, a single two- part harmony, John going up there and his voice sort of cracking, and it’s just the two of them singing… Oh, my God, it just breaks my heart every time, because I know what this song meant to John. “I thought this song was about go get Yoko”, and he was so in love with Yoko, you know, and it changed his life. It did. It changed his life. It changed everyone’s lives in the 1960’s. It changed the Beatles. So, to hear him singing that with Paul there, there’s just way more for us Beatles fans.

Brad Page: It’s just a beautiful, beautiful moment in the song. I just, I love that part. And then you get the next verse where you get the “let it out and let it in” the second time. He says that, which you actually talk about that line a few times in the book; you know, there’s just a lot said in “let it out and let it in”, just by itself, says a lot.

James Campion: It means nothing and it means everything. It really comes down to that. If you’re a poet or you’re a songwriter, or you’re someone who likes to deconstruct music the way I like to do it, and you do it on the show, that thing is just rings all the bells. I think it was Kylie Lotz, who goes by the name of “Petal” in her professional career– wonderful singer songwriter, young woman– just really nailed it when she said, it’s breathing, isn’t it? It’s just breathing.

Brad Page: The “Ooh’s” return in the harmony, and you get that line, “You’re waiting for someone to perform with”, which just is such a specific phrase that you know, so much of the rest of the song, I think anyone could apply it to their own personal feelings, but I’m not sure most people are looking for a partner to “perform with”, however you want to take that. But it’s just an interesting phrase to put in there that literally applies to the future of both John and Paul, Right” Because they both end up performing for the rest of their careers, as long as their partners are alive, with their significant other.

James Campion: Right.

Brad Page: But at that time, they weren’t. That line literally predicts the future.

James Campion: There’s no way that Paul didn’t know that when he wrote that. That’s what he’s saying now, did he think he was going to be in a band called Wings with Linda? No. Did John think? I think John did. I think John knew from the very beginning, because he did all those tape loops with her. He worked on the tape loop “Revolution Nine” with Yoko. She sings on “Bungalow Bill” with him. That line about, that is a very odd line for a love song. You find someone to perform with. Not perform sexually or…

Brad Page: No, it’s not a sexual thing at all.

James Campion: No. You’re going to go off and do this thing together. And this is a song about, you know, “you could do this”. You could do it. I’m right here with you. You don’t have to do it alone. So it’s pretty cool.

Brad Page: There’s another little George Harrison guitar fill that pops out there. Then you get the line– this is the line that always strikes me—“Don’t you know that it’s just you, Hey, Jude, you’ll do”. And that just touches me in a way that’s, it’s difficult for me to kind of really put that into words. But, you know– and I know Bruce Springsteen often gets a lot of crap for that line in Thunder Road where like, “eh, you’re not a beauty, but you’re all right”. And you could maybe say that here, that’s like, “you’ll do”. Well, that’s not like, you know, that’s not saying “you’re great”, “you’re awesome”… it’s “you’ll do”. But there’s something about that that’s just saying, it’s not hyperbole, it’s just like, “you’re good enough. You can do this”. “Don’t you know that it’s just you, you’ll do”, it moves me every time. And the way he sings “and don’t you know that it’s just you”, it’s probably his most soulful, most bluesy vocal effect, on the whole song.

James Campion: Yeah, I mean, his vocals, again, magnificent here. Uh, yes, I think this is the tightrope that he walks in this song. He’s saying, “I’m going to be there for you. I’m rooting for you”. But he also says, “you got this, you got this”. This is completely different than “All You Need Is Love”. But in a way, he’s telling Jude or Jules or you or me, you know, “you got this”. You got this. You don’t need a lot of mumbo jumbo. You don’t need the Maharishi. You don’t need a big steeple. You don’t need a ton of cash. You know, you could do this and whatever you want to apply to it. I think that’s what he’s saying.

Brad Page: Yeah, exactly. And then you get the line, “the movement you need is on your shoulder”. The most enigmatic line in the song.

James Campion: Yeah. When I saw him in ‘89, when he sang it, it gave me the chills, too. And then I find out later on that he told Bob Costas, Bob asked him, “do you ever think about the audience when you’re playing a song or singing to them?” And he’s like, “No, no. It’s just like being an actor. You’re doing lines, you’re trying to get through it, you’re in the song. You like to interact with the musicians on stage, but when I sing that line, I think of John.” And when you think of “the movement you need is on your shoulder”, which is such, as you said, perfectly enigmatic, could mean everything. And again, nothing. But John, of course, loved it. Paul just put it in there. He just had that in there. He even told John, “this is just a filler.” And he goes, “no, no, no, it’s the best line in the song”. And he respected John so much for it. And I think it was, again, Tim Riley, who told me, think about the ego and the it ownership, that John had a lot of those songs. If he did, when he did the Playboy interviews right before he died, he went through every Beatles song and he would say, “I helped him with this line. He helped me with that line”.  “I kept Paul from going to Saccharine here, we did this”, he always said over. And even during their dark times, when they were fighting with each other publicly, he always said, “’Hey Jude’, that’s Paul, Paul’s baby. Probably his best song.” So to have that line in there, and him to blow Lennon away with it, and Lennon insisting he keeps it in there, and that Paul plays it 30, 40 years later and it still thinks of John on stage. Just absolutely beautiful.

James Campion: I love the fact that it’s on your shoulder. It comes right after you’ll do. It’s about you. You can do this.

Brad Page: Right? Right. You can move mountains. You can do it. The song is so full of those little moments that are just uplifting to your soul.

There’s another pause for that short little “na na na”, which he adds a yeah, at the end, which I would normally think that would just be like an ad lib, but it’s actually doubled. And then you get the last verse, the “Hey Jude”, where he has that melisma on the voice, where you’re not just hitting a note, but you’re scatting around it. McCartney was so great at that. “Hey Jude” harmonies on that verse by John.

Brad Page: And then– and this is something that I feel foolish, because, again, one of my favorite songs, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song… Never heard it till I read your book. But after they sing under your skin, John in the background says…

James Campion: Yeah, you can’t unhear that. Yeah. And it’s, and many people had a theory, and I throw them all in there, but I stick with the one that because Paul changed “heart” to “skin”, John was doing the harmony, and he blows the line, and then he just says, #@!&

And then when they were mixing it, I just wondered, why would they leave it in there? According to Jeff Emmerich, who was cleaning up the mix of it, John just came up to him and said, leave it in there. Leave it in there. No one will hear it. And if they do, it’ll be a little bauble for everybody. And, you know, biggest single in the history of Rhe Beatles, the biggest band on the planet, has the F-word in it, right?

Brad Page: That’s so great. And leave it to John to say, just leave it in there. But that would be my take on it, too. I think if you listen closely, it’s tough to tell, even when you isolate just the vocals, but I think you’re right that the previous verses “let her into your heart”, here he sings “let her under your skin”. And you can almost hear there, John start to sing “into” instead of “under”, and then, like, catches himself, and then lets the F-word fly because he blows the line.

Brad Page: It’s just funny. And again, when you think of The Beatles, how many people have played their songs backwards and forwards and inside out, looking for crazy stuff, backwards masking and whatnot? And this is right there, and nobody ever points that out, but it’s just great.

Then we get to really kind of the climax of the song, where they repeat the word “better”, climbing in pitch each time. There’s a classic Ringo drum fill. Under that little pause, Ringo hits a single hit on the hi hat. And then we are off into the second part of the song, which is a whole different animal. But I always hear– and I almost hate to put it this way, because I don’t mean it to be in a sexual way at all, but that “better, better” and then when he screams, yeah, it’s orgasmic.

James Campion: Oh, uh, no question.

Brad Page: You know, “orgasmic” just in the sense of release; build, climax, release. And it’s so emotional.

Brad Page: And that launches you into that second half of the song, that is longer than the beginning. I believe the first part of the song, where we are up until now is about three minutes. The remaining part of the song is four minutes, roughly, right?

James Campion: Yeah, it’s four minutes plus of just “na na’s”. So, we’re less than halfway through the actual record, but the song structure is over now. And now you have the “double amen”, or “plagal cadence” in the parlance of music, where you repeat that line over and over again. The famous, famous, nobody can forget it, everyone loves to sing along with it part. But before we leave the scream, I defy you to find, you could probably find equal, but is there one that’s better when someone goes up and up and up and he just exploded. And now he’s leaving that other part behind. He’s done talking to you, and now he’s making you feel like you’re part of something. He’s making Jude feel like, “don’t worry, you’re not alone here”. And that’s when the na na’s come in, and that’s where I feel he’s using gospel cords. He’s using gospel phrasing. He starts to do the melisma to get us there. The blues tropes.

Brad Page: Yeah. And as you just kind of pointed out, at this point, the song shifts from being very personal and intimate to being a communal experience. The first part is kind of like about you and making you feel better. Then you get to this part and it’s like, “You know what? We’re all together in this. We all have to figure this out, all have to work together if we’re going to survive, get through this together. We got to do it together.”

James Campion: Yeah. And of course, you know, that’s the sixties edict that The Beatles helped build.

Brad Page: You’ve reached a point in the song where you’ve transcended what you can say with actual words, and now you’re just chanting. He’s already said everything he could say to you in those first couple of verses now. It’s just the uplift of. It’s just like pure, unfiltered joy almost.

James Campion: And again, the “na na’s” break the barriers of language. I’m reminded of Paul playing it at the Kremlin, and I mentioned it in the beginning of the book, and I’m reminded of the thousands and thousands of young Russian kids singing “na, na, na”. And no matter where you go, you could sing that.

Brad Page: An interesting thing you also point out in the book is that, during this final section, the coda, if you listen closely in the right channel, you can hear some of those previous ad-libs from the initial run through. It’s still there buried in the mix.

I believe it repeats 18 times. Do I have that right? Is that the number?

James Campion: Yeah.

Brad Page: The number of “na na na’s”?

Speaker A: Yeah, it’s right around there. It’s fun to play with that and figure out how many, and I break it all down in the book. I can’t remember all of them right now. And George Martin said for years, music is mathematics. It’s magical math, but in the end, it’s math.

Brad Page: You just get this continual build here through the coda, where the second time around they add hand claps. I think it’s the fourth time around, the orchestra comes in, and then that’s where Paul comes in with that famous “Judy, Judy, Judy”. The 6th time around, I think the brass gets a little louder and he does that, you know, “you can make it, you’re not going to break it” ad lib in there. That’s great. The 7th time around, just riffing on the verse lines. “Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song. Make it better.”

Brad Page: Around the 10th time, the fade starts to begin, so you get this really long fade that just takes forever. The 11th time, I think you can hear him say, “don’t go back, Jude”. And then the second to last time, Paul’s voice comes up a little bit in the mix for one last little screaming ad lib in there. And then that song just rides out. Just what a communal experience again, you get from that, that whole end section. It’s just, I find it so emotional.

James Campion: Yeah, well, I think I titled the last chapter “Comfort and Unity”. He got the comfort part. “Hey, Jude, you could do this, buddy”. And then, we’re all doing it together. No one should ever sleep on the fact that, again, as Rob Sheffield so beautifully said, this is a band song all the way through. And I think somewhere around the fifth or 6th, they just stop trying to play the song, and they’re just into that whole plagal cadence. Like that the band is a groovin’, there’s a part where they just groove. They’re not doing staccato punches on the acoustic guitar. They’re just flowing, and the bass is going, and Ringo is just doing his thing, and it’s a full… and Paul is really banging on the piano, so it’s a full, full band song on the way out. As you just pointed out beautifully, each section builds on another, and it never makes it boring. Ever makes it boring.

Brad Page: I my book, it’s just one of the greatest songs ever written and ever recorded. It’s a perfect song, I think.

James Campion: Yep. I agree.

Brad Page: So your book, called “Take A Sad Song”, what inspired you to write a whole book about this one song?

James Campion: Well, when I was a kid, as I said earlier, it affected me greatly. I just saw, I came up with this idea in late 2019, but then my father got sick and passed right before the pandemic. And then the pandemic hit. And I was home and I had the time and I said, this song seems to speak to that. To this. We’re all alone, but we’re kind of together. We’re going through this thing. We’re going to try to survive this thing. And it seemed to work in 1968, because when all that craziness was happening during the summer, and then, of course, after the election, it just seemed to be ‘68 again. Everybody’s saying, well, this is the worst year since ‘68. And it just, I felt like I was in it, you know, it just spoke to me. So “Hey Jude” is my favorite Beatles song, period. And once I started looking up different things about it and all the stuff we talked about on this podcast, and also, I thought it would be really cool to just break down one song to figure out why songs work, not just this song, but why songs affect us. And that’s why I talked to a psychology professor and a sociology professor in musicology, and history and songwriters and biographers and music journalists. I just kept asking them, why? Why do we still care about these songs, this song particular? And I think I got the answer in the book. And it really buoyed my spirits during the pandemic, and I hope it does when people read it, because that’s what I meant to do, is make them understand why music affects us.

Brad Page: It’s a remarkable piece of work, and I really enjoyed your book. It was such a great insight into this song. It was just a great read. I loved every minute. It was a pleasure reading the book. It’s been a total pleasure having you on the show to talk about this fantastic song. So, thank you for writing the book, and thank you for joining me on the show.

James Campion: Brad, thank you. You do some great work here. I really enjoy listening to your breaking down songs. I think you’re doing some, you’re doing a service to all of us who love music. Thank you. Coming from you, I really appreciate that. And, um, I hope people get out of it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. It really was a lot of fun, and it made me love the song more, made me love Paul more, and it certainly made me understand and love The Beatles more.

Brad Page: James Campion, thank you so much for joining me on this episode. It’s been great. Thank you.

James Campion: Thank you, Brad.

Brad Page: And thanks to everyone for listening. I hope you enjoyed this show. James Campion is the author of a number of great books, including “Accidentally Like A Martyr”, which is a series of essays on Warren Zevon, and “Shout It Out Loud”, the story of how Kiss made the “Destroyer” album, which was a big help to me when I put together my previous Kiss episodes. This new book is called “Take A Sad Song: The emotional currency of ‘Hey Jude’”, and it’s available online and in bookstores today. Please check it out, you won’t regret it. And please join me here again in two weeks for another new episode. On behalf of everyone on the Pantheon Podcast network, I thank you for listening. Now go take a sad song and make it better.