Tag Archives: Julian Lennon

Book Review: “Take A Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of ‘Hey Jude'” by James Campion

This review is by Amy Hughes

Take A Sad Song Hey JudeIn the Beatles canon, there is one composition, one performance that stands up and takes notice of the world. Since 1968, that song has been ‘Hey Jude.’

Author James Campion elongates the timeline from then to now with Take A Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude” (Backbeat Books, 2022). If one questions why this song has come to define how we feel – deeply – about ourselves and globally, each other, he details those passages to great effect and empathy.

Campion brings together several noted musicologists, journalists, and musicians whose love for and knowledge of The Beatles helps to describe the far-flung reasons and reactions that bind ‘Hey Jude’  to our collective DNA and the shared elements of the individual who miraculously brought it all together.

Paul McCartney’s childhood is well documented with the loss of his mother to cancer and the hardships that followed. The ensuing years saw the rise of The Beatles with not only their popularity as a band, but as songwriters, Lennon and McCartney ascended to the top of the charts with their catchy memorable tunes and distinctive sound.

But what really happened went far deeper. While the struggle to maintain a normal life was in fact an everyday occurrence for those involved, McCartney processed his soul into a song. As early-to-mid 1968 has shown, his personal life started to unravel: the trip to Rishikesh proved insightful but fractured his relationship with Lennon, and his longtime girlfriend Jane Asher broke off their engagement. What else could he do but pour all this into an elegy?

Campion’s book is not so much a studious laundry list of how ‘Hey Jude’ came to be and where it went. The uniqueness of the times, as many interviewees noted, demanded to be heard and then have it propelled forward. The mechanics of the composition are unmatchable. McCartney – as has been noted in a previous blog entry – was surrounded and imbibed with music. His mind was constantly spinning, never slowing down in absorbing breath and emotion coming from his environment. Whether he intended to construct what has become an epic, relatable anthem is only up for reflection by McCartney himself.

The frequently told and legendary story surrounding ‘Hey Jude’ is not hard to fathom: as Lennon became involved with Yoko Ono and left behind his wife Cynthia and young son Julian, McCartney traveled out to see them. During the car trip, the germination of the song came to him and while the conversation with Cynthia was lighthearted, he knew immediately the sense of loss and abandonment that was coming soon, especially for a boy whose circumstances mirrored his own.

Instead, the implied autobiographical details infused in ‘Hey Jude’ elicited personal empathy from Lennon. While also losing his mother months after McCartney’s mother’s passing, Lennon refused to live with the scenario that she was gone. Hence his blocked emotion at explicitly revealing this in song… until ‘Hey Jude.’ It was his comment to McCartney about leaving in the placeholder sentence ‘the movement you need is on your shoulder’ that gave his junior partner the confidence that this song was relatable to not only him… but anyone.

Two areas that are especially interesting are the recording of the song and the filming of the video. While noting that the band switched over to the then-new Trident Studios (with the intention of using their 8-track recording system), once completed and taken back to EMI Studios, the dissimilar operational logistics and control settings between the two seemed insurmountable. Campion explains those defeating circumstances and the fixes utilized by the team at EMI (including the brief return of engineer Geoff Emerick) to the great relief of everyone who had believed it was a lost cause.

With humor, the story behind the filming of the video is decidedly more intriguing. In fact, there are two filmings that Campion covers. The first was the rehearsals of the song at EMI. Filmed by the National Music Council of Great Britain for the documentary ‘Music!,’ this footage is notable for the fact of George Harrison’s presence in the control room with George Martin and Ken Scott. McCartney’s specific demands led to a spat and Harrison exited the studio below. The bassist’s attitude toward perfection was an open secret that would lead to further friction in the coming months.

Another surprising revelation (to this reviewer) was the Michael Lindsay-Hogg-directed version of ‘Hey Jude.’ As presented to the UK public, one surmised it was specifically done for exclusivity for David Frost – hence his introduction. However, Campion unearths the hysterical reasons why Frost shouldn’t have been there and then delves into the unspoken visual nuances of the performance, the band’s interaction with the invited audience, and the “cosmic kinship’ as described by Campion between Lennon and McCartney.

But what really drives this narrative along are the numerous observations from Campion’s interviewees and his own personal examination of the crucial four-plus minute coda. Initially, told that ‘it just wasn’t done,’ what does one think if you’re The Beatles? You go ahead – and do it.

Na… na… na… na na na na will in fact, become more than an ending to a long song. At the time, it is a rule-breaking, non-conformist leader that disrupts the leftover hippy-dippy AM sounds of summer and reaches out in a soul-searching, personal call-to-arms as 1968 explodes in domestic and worldwide chaos. Several scholars note that where McCartney succeeded was reaching back from childhood and leaning on the Christian hymn ‘Te Deum.’ And to add: a fourth-century canticle that he subconsciously meshed with The Drifters’ 1962 soulful ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ (a Beatle favorite) is not an unreal possibility.

As Campion notes several times (and with the comments and remarks from his respondents), ‘Hey Jude’ is not just about Paul McCartney inheriting a character (one of his songwriting traits) and offering a manufactured tale. This was a Paul McCartney who passionately cared that this creation succeeds on the ‘everyman’ level: from a TV audience in 1968 to the countless world tours to young non-English speaking musicians such as Korean pop band BTS who when asked what their favorite Beatles song was, jumped up and began Na… na… na… na na na na.

The impact of ‘Hey Jude’ from a song to an event is incalculable. By definition or perhaps default, this milestone in music has come to define the personal and professional attainments one feels – whether it be a comforting lyric in a time of mourning or a place that thousands of artists aspire to reach every time they compose. Campion has fashioned a unique testament to the power of one song to countless individuals.

This book rates 4 out of 4 beetles.

 

 

 

 

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7″ Single Review: 25th Anniversary Limited Edition – “Saltwater” by Julian Lennon

Last week, I received my 25th Anniversary Limited Edition 7″ single of Saltwater  by Julian Lennon. This song from his Help Yourself album was originally released in 1991. According to Wikipedia, the song charted at #6 in the U.K. and #1 in Australia, but failed to chart in the U.S. The song was written by Julian and Mark & Leslie Spiro. Julian had originally asked George Harrison to do a guitar solo, but George was too busy and instead sent Julian several recorded rifts that were eventually played by Steve Hunter. This beautiful song is about how we’re running out of time to deal with environmental conservation and world poverty.

So I guess the big question is: Did I play the record? No.

Next question: So how do I know it’s really a recording of Saltwater and they didn’t just repackage a bunch of Toto singles they found in a warehouse? Well, I don’t know that. But if any of you are willing to put a record needle to your copy, please let me know!

In the meantime, I can tell you that this clear vinyl edition is even more beautiful to behold in person. The pictures just don’t do it justice. The only thing that could make this any better would be to have Julian’s signature scribbled across the label, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the Limited Signed Limited Editions to be released. Hey Julian! Can you get on that ASAP?

NOTE: This 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Clear Vinyl 45 rpm is limited to just 250 copies!

You can order your own copy at Julian’s website for £25 (approx. $31.89).

Until then…enjoy the 1991 and 2016 versions of the Saltwater video.

 

 

I rate this record, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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Julian Lennon’s “SALTWATER” 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Vinyl!

 

Just saw this in my email. A 7″ 25th Anniversary Limited Edition of Julian Lennon‘s hit single Saltwater on clear vinyl?! Maybe I’m just channeling my inner 1980’s persona, but I just have to have this and thought maybe some of my readers may too! Order your copy here!

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Book Review: “Touch the Earth” by Julian Lennon

Imagine my surprise when a book I ordered from Amazon showed up last week with my pre-order for Julian Lennon‘s new children’s book – Touch the EarthAmazon still says the release date is April 11th…so I’m not sure why I got my so soon. But, I’m not going to complain and my granddaughters paid me a visit a couple days later so I was able to read it to them.

This is a beautiful book with amazing artwork and an environmental theme that we can all relate to these days. Julian sets out to teach young children about the need to clean, safe drinking water all over the world, whether it’s for plants, animals or humans. The reader takes a trip around the world via a plane called the White Feather Flier. They help by pressing a small button on each page and tilting the book in the direction the plane needs to go to provide the necessary elements for clean, safe water.

Calla and me enjoying Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon

I so wanted to really be impressed with this book, but though the story is good and teach children well, the concept of pushing buttons and tilting the book just doesn’t fly in the virtual world we live in today. The book would absolutely rock as a computer or phone app for children to play.

Now don’t get me wrong. I plan on giving my copy to my granddaughters….BUT, I did ordered a signed copy from Premier Collections for $20 (they also say the book won’t be released until April 11th). I plan on keeping a pristine copy on my bookshelf all for myself because I have always adored Julian and will always support him and the White Feather Foundation (a portion of the proceeds from this book go to the foundation).

Sorry Julian…but please move to the obvious next step and create a computer version of this terrific story. You’ll go far with it! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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A GREAT gift that keeps giving from the White Feather Foundation

White Feather Foundation t-shirtI love this t-shirt!  My husband gave it to me several years ago as a christmas gift and it is without a doubt my favorite.  And, it’s held up through all the washings, dryings and being hung outside on the line to dry.

Now…a little bit about it:

This shirt is from Julian Lennon‘s White Feather Foundation and is “Ethically sourced and made from 100% organic cotton with proceeds going towards the White Feather Foundation causes.”

From the foundations website: The White Feather Foundation embraces environmental and humanitarian issues and in conjunction with partners from around the world helps to raise funds for the betterment of all life, and to honour those who have truly made a difference.

If you have a Beatles fan in your life and want to also give back, my advice would be to buy them one of these shirts.  I absolutely love the way this shirt wears, feels and makes me feel to wear it.  But be sure to order earlier to get it in time for the holidays since they are shipped from the U.K.

You can order the shirt (in black or white) here: http://www.whitefeatherfoundation.com/shop.htm

I rate this shirt: Four Beatles!

4beetle3beetle2beetle1beetle

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