It’s 50 years since Paul McCartney came up with Hey Jude while driving from London to Surrey – and made a song that’s sung everywhere from football terraces to Oxford colleges. Here’s the story of how it came to be
You could argue forever about which of the Beatles’ songs is the greatest. According to the Daily Telegraph, it’s something nostalgic: In My Life. According to the NME, it’s something psychedelic: Strawberry Fields Forever, which wasn’t even the best song on the single it appeared on, alongside Penny Lane. According to Rolling Stone and USA Today, it’s something epic: A Day in the Life, which often does well in polls, perhaps because it’s written by both Lennon and McCartney.
The debate is diverting but doomed. The Beatles’ range was so broad that it would be easier to name Matisse’s best painting or Meryl Streep’s best performance – which wouldn’t be easy at all. This isn’t just apples and oranges, it’s the whole fruit stall, so if we must use superlatives, we’d better narrow them down. The most covered Beatles song is Yesterday, the biggest seller is She Loves You and the biggest crowdpleaser is Hey Jude.