“Hey Jude/Revolution, was the first single released on the Beatles newest venture in August 1968, Apple Records. Originally conceived as “Hey Jules”. McCartney wrote "Hey Jude" for John’s son Julian to help ease the pain of his parent’s divorce. Clocking in at 7 minutes 11 seconds, it was at that time the longest single ever released. It’s unique structure - a little over three minutes of verse, chorus, verse, followed by an extended coda and lengthy fade over 4 minutes - could have made for a boring song. But the gradual introduction of each instrument and ultimately a thirty-six piece orchestra in support of the chanted coda gives the song a sweeping arc bolstered by McCartney’s from a whisper to a scream vocal.
My strongest memory of the song was the promotional clip a.k.a video, aired on the “The Smother’s Brother’s Comedy Hour” in October of 68. Shot by David Lindsay-Hogg, the clip captured the very direct nature of the lyric as well as the build up to the long coda by having additional people join the band on stage clapping and singing along. McCartney’s impassioned vocal ad libs underscore this anthem of strength and support. Once again the Beatles bring us all together.
The flip side of the single was a ferocious electric assault by John Lennon called “Revolution”. The song was an alternate version of a song that would appear on the Beatles ninth studio album released in November. Like "Hey Jude", Revolution is direct and spare. The Beatles had yet to get political in their music, though Lennon, under the influence of Yoko Ono was clearly moving in that direction. “Revolution” is a series of questions and answers with a refrain of “Don’t you know it’s gonna be, alright.” I remember that the song sent me scurrying off to the school library to learn more about Chairman Mao. With both “Revolution” and “Hey Jude”, gone are the psychedelic overtones of “Sgt. Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour". At 12 I had that sense of having come through one phase and heading into another. And, of course I was - soundtrack provided by the Beatles.