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The Beatles’ Song Producers Worried Would Never Get Play Time on the Radio

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Beginning in the early 1960s, The Beatles enjoyed a string of hit songs that dominated the charts and the radio soundwaves. By 1968, they had established themselves as the biggest band of the decade. Still, their producer, George Martin, worried that one song wouldn’t do well because it wouldn’t get radio playtime. Ultimately, Martin was completely off base with his concerns. 

Beatles producer George Martin thought ‘Hey Jude’ was too long of a song

Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” as a tribute to John Lennon’s young son, Julian, amid his parents’ divorce. Martin believed that the song, which is seven minutes long, would never get playtime on the radio. 

“We recorded ‘Hey Jude’ in Trident Studios. It was a long song,” Martin said in The Beatles Anthology. “In fact, after I timed it I actually said, ‘You can’t make a single that long.’ I was shouted down by the boys — not for the first time in my life — and John asked: ‘Why not?’ I couldn’t think of a good answer, really — except the pathetic one that disc jockeys wouldn’t play it.”

Lennon believed that they were The Beatles: radios would play any singles they put out.

“He said, ‘They will if it’s us,’” Martin recalled. “And, of course, he was absolutely right.”

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Despite Martin’s concerns, “Hey Jude” went to No.1 across the world and became the top-selling single of the year in several countries.

The Beatles had to engineer ‘Hey Jude’ so that records could play the song

Though the song was a proven success, Martin’s fears weren’t entirely unfounded. The song was so long that they had to specifically engineer it to play on the record.

“It was longer than any single had been, but we had a good bunch of engineers,” McCartney said. “We asked how long a 45 could be. They said that four minutes was about all you could squeeze into the grooves before it seriously started to lose volume and everyone had to turn the sound up.”

Luckily, their engineers were able to figure out a solution. 

“But they did some very clever stuff, squeezing the bit that didn’t have to be loud, then allowing the rest more room,” McCartney explained. “Somehow, they got seven minutes on there — which was quite an engineering feat.”

John Lennon felt Paul McCartney was sending him a message with the song

The song also accomplished the feat of having Lennon praise McCartney’s work. Their relationship had soured a bit by the late 1960s, and the song was about Lennon. Still, Lennon thought highly of it.

“‘Hey Jude’ is one of his masterpieces,” Lennon said. “He said it was written about Julian, my child. He knew I was splitting with Cyn and leaving Julian. He was driving over to say ‘hi’ to Julian. He’d been like an uncle to him. Paul was always good with kids. And so he came up with ‘Hey Jude.’”

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Still, Lennon believed the song was also a message from McCartney to himself.

“I always heard it as a song to me,” he said. “If you think about it, Yoko’s just come into the picture. He’s saying: ‘Hey, Jude — hey, John.’ I know I’m sounding like one of those fans who reads things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me. The words ‘go out and get her’ — subconsciously he was saying, ‘Go ahead, leave me.’ But on a conscious level, he didn’t want me to go ahead. The angel inside him was saying, ‘Bless you.’ The devil in him didn’t like it at all, because he didn’t want to lose his partner.”



Source: Cheat Sheet

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