During their relatively short career together, The Beatles made some of the most important and enduring pop music the world has ever heard. Without them, our popular culture really wouldn’t be what it is today. But how did they do it? How did they manage to write so much music that changed the world and endured to this day? Each of their songs has its own special backstory, some of which are pretty wild. Let’s take a look at the most interesting.
1. Hey Jude
“Hey Jude” was one of Paul McCartney’s creations, a song he wrote in 1968 for his bandmate’s son. John Lennon was getting a divorce from his wife Cynthia, which obviously must have been upsetting for their young son, Julian. So, Paul wanted to cheer the kid up.
On a summer’s day in ’68, Paul hopped in his car and set out to visit Cynthia and Julian at their home in Weybridge. Along the way, he was pondering the changes they’d all experienced over the last number of years.
“Take a sad song, and make it better”
Speaking for the Anthology project, Paul recalled, “I thought, as a friend of the family, I would motor out to Weybridge and tell them that everything was all right: to try and cheer them up, basically, and see how they were. I had about an hour’s drive. I would always turn the radio off and try and make up songs, just in case… I started singing: ‘Hey Jules — don’t make it bad, take a sad song, and make it better.’
“It was optimistic, a hopeful message for Julian: ‘Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you’re not happy, but you’ll be okay.’” He went on, “I eventually changed ‘Jules’ to ‘Jude’. One of the characters in Oklahoma! is called Jud, and I like the name.”
A random meeting
Nearly 20 years later, Paul randomly bumped into Julian at a hotel in New York, where they spoke about the song for the first time. In 2002 Julian told Mojo about it, saying, “He told me that he’d been thinking about my circumstances all those years ago, about what I was going through.
“Paul and I used to hang out a bit — more than dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seem to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and dad.”
2. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
When “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” came out, everyone was pretty sure they knew the subtext of what John was singing about. The man himself, though, was always adamant that people had got the wrong end of the stick. “I had no idea it spelt LSD,” he claimed.
“This is the truth,” he insisted. “My son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around. I said, ‘What is it?’ and he said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,’ and I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote a song about it.”