The Lyric That Makes Paul McCartney Think Of John Lennon

The evolution of the songwriting relationship between Paul McCartney and John Lennon is well-known. In the early Beatles days, the two penned down songs together eyeball to eyeball. But as the band evolved, so did their songwriting dynamic. McCartney and Lennon began writing songs independently, following their own distinctive musical ideas. Nevertheless, they continued to influence one another, as was the case with a particular lyric in McCartney’s “Hey Jude”.

The Lyric That Makes Paul McCartney Think Of John Lennon
John Lennon and Paul McCartney – By United Press International – Public Domain

When Paul McCartney was finishing up the song in his house in Cavendish Avenue, London, John Lennon and Yoko Ono paid him a visit. There, McCartney played “Hey Jude” to Lennon for the first time.

“They were right behind me over my right shoulder, standing up, listening to it as I played it to them,” McCarney revealed in his book Many Years From Now.

“When I got to the line, ‘The movement you need is on your shoulder,’ I looked over my shoulder and I said, ‘I’ll change that, it’s a bit crummy. I was just blocking it out.” But John Lennon assured McCartney he shouldn’t. “John said, ‘You won’t, you know. That’s the best line in it!”

Lennon’s words gave McCartney the conviction to keep the line. “That’s collaboration. When someone’s that firm about a line that you’re going to junk, and he said, ‘No, keep it in.’ So of course you love that line twice as much because it’s a little stray, it’s a little mutt that you were about to put down and it was reprieved and so it’s more beautiful than ever. I love those words now.”

John Lennon wasn’t only a fan of that particular line, he loved “Hey Jude” in its entirety. “Hey Jude’ is a damn good set of lyrics and I made no contribution to that,” He said in 1980. Lennon also believed the song was written about him, although Paul McCartney revealed he wrote it for Lennon’s son Julian after their parents divorced.

“Hey Jude” was released as a single on 26 August 1968. The song became a monumental hit, topping the charts pretty much everywhere, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

After The Beatles broke up, and after Lennon’s life was tragically cut short, Paul McCartney revealed that “Hey Jude” – especially the line “The movement you need is on your shoulder’ – always makes him think of John Lennon.

“Time lends a little credence to things. You can’t knock it, it just did so well,” McCartney said. “But when I’m singing it, that is when I think of John, when I hear myself singing that line; it’s an emotional point in the song.”

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