The Beatles song that showed Paul McCartney that Ringo Starr was “blessed”

As Paul McCartney left the stage following a triumphant set at Glastonbury in 2022, the sprightly octagenarian undoubtedly felt the true force of The Beatles’ legacy. Over half a century since the band’s dissolution, audience members, young and old, belted out songs from The Beatles’ immortal catalogue with unequalled enthusiasm. Of all the sing-alongs, ‘Hey Jude’ received the most resonant response from the crowd, as per usual.

The relentless ballad was written by McCartney in 1968 and recorded as a non-album single. In the 1997 biography Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, the songwriter discussed the development of the track. “The end refrain was never a separate song,” he explained, quelling an erroneous rumour. “I remember taking it down to a late-night hashish-smoking club in a basement in Tottenham Court Road: the Vesuvio club. We were sitting around on bean bags, as was the thing.”

“I said to the DJ, ‘Here’s an acetate. Do you want to slip it in sometime during the evening?’” McCartney continued. “He played it, and I remember Mick Jagger coming up: ‘Fuckin’’ ell, fuckin” ell. That’s something else, isn’t it? It’s like two songs.”

With the Stone’s endorsement, McCartney took the song to the studio to record the extended outro with a full orchestra. “It wasn’t intended to go on that long at the end, but I was having such fun ad-libbing over the end when we put down the original track that I went on a long time,” he said. “So then we built it with the orchestra, but it was mainly because I just wouldn’t stop doing all that ‘Judy judy judy — wooow!’ Cary Grant on heat!”

Discussing ‘Hey Jude’ in a recently resurfaced interview, McCartney revealed how the final take of the track was recorded while Ringo Starr was in the toilet. During the long intro, Starr somehow managed to crawl back to his kit just in time.

“We recorded it in Trident Studios in Soho, London,” McCartney recalled. “And Ringo had just gone to the toilet, which was kind of just through the studio, and I didn’t know, I hadn’t seen him just go out. I thought he was back in his drum booth, which was hidden from us over in the back”.

He added: “So I started, ‘Hey Jude…’ and I’m working through this log intro without the drums. As I’m halfway through, I suddenly see this figure creeping along behind me – it’s Ringo! He’s just finished in the toilet, and he’s trying to get to the drum kit. He realises we’re on a take, and he doesn’t want to break it up. It looks like it’s going good. This is the one. This was the take.”

“He sits down just in time to go, ‘Doo, doo, doo, doo [drum sound].’ And he’s in! Oh dear me, that man is blessed! You know, anyone else would have fallen over or hit a cymbal or something,” McCartney concluded, laughing.

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