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Paul McCartney’s Handwritten Lyrics to “Hey Jude” Go Big at Auction

The walrus was Paul.
The walrus was Paul.

Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for iconic track ‘Hey Jude’ have sold at auction for $910,000. The sale took place last week at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. Fox News describes the proud purchaser as “an anonymous American buyer”.

It wasn’t the only slice of Beatles history up for grabs. Approx 250 items went under the hammer on April 10th, exactly half a century after the Fab Four’s split. Julien’s website mentioned “some never-before-seen memorabilia, guitars and instruments, autographed items, rare vinyl, obscure licensed material and other rare and collectible artifacts.”

The Hey Jude lyrics and the paper they’re printed on would have sat in on the making of the pop rock classic. Quoted by Fox, Julien’s music specialist Jason Watkins states “These handwritten lyrics were used in the studio as a guide when they were recording it.”

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney on stage at the Cavern nightclub in Liverpool during the early days of British beat group The Beatles. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

‘Hey Jude’ was written by McCartney and John Lennon, whose own scribblings for ‘A Day In The Life’ went for a cool $1.2 million a decade back. It was released as a single in 1968, becoming the Apple label’s first Beatles record. The tender lyrics were written by Paul for Lennon’s son Julian during his parents’ divorce. John was married to Cynthia Lennon and Julian was 5 years old at the time. “Jules” received a tweak to “Jude”.

Paul McCartney
Beatles singer and musician Paul McCartney with his girlfriend Jane Asher and their Old English Sheepdog named Martha outside the Golden Gates Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland, December 11th, 1967 . (Photo by Daily Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

The Cheatsheet website highlights an interview Julian Lennon gave in the book The Beatles: Stories Behind the Songs (2010). He and McCartney ran into each other in the Big Apple in 1987, where the Liverpudlian legend revealed his inspiration. “It’s very strange to think that someone has written a song about you” Lennon said. “It still touches me.”

He also mentions they “had a great friendship going and there seem to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and dad.”

Julian Lennon
Julian Lennon. Photo by Greg2600 CC by 2.0

Julian later spoke of the distance that existed between him and his father. However, when Lucy Vodden – his long time friend and the person behind Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – passed away, he wrote a song about her and feelings changed.

“It wasn’t until the passing of my friend Lucy and the writing of this song that really helped me forgive my father” he told CBS in 2009. “I realised if I continued to feel that anger and bitterness towards my dad, I would have a constant cloud hanging over my head my whole life.”

The Beatles
John Lennon (left) and Paul McCartney (right) in 1964

‘Hey Jude’ was memorably covered by Elvis Presley in ‘68 and included on the Elvis Now album 4 years later. Last year K-poppers BTS performed the track on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a rendition that impressed the former Beatle. McCartney makes the track into a key part of his live shows, directing different sections of the crowd to sing the unmistakeable “Na na na na”.

The song was in the spotlight again last year, care of hit movie comedy Yesterday. In the story, McCartney and co were erased from history and their legacy appropriated by a struggling songwriter. On finally hearing the track, Ed Sheeran asked the lyrics to be changed to ‘Hey Dude’.

Other goodies at the auction were more substantial than a piece of a paper. The actual stage from the band’s debut concert for example! Julien’s explains, “The band performed on this stage at Lathom Hall in Liverpool, England on May 14, 1960 for one night only as The Silver Beats (their original band name) in their first advertised concert booked by Liverpool promoter Brian Kelly.”

Related Article: Newly Unearthed Recording of a Beatles Meeting Changes Music History

Besides the Hey Jude lyrics, other treasures included a signed baseball from Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where the group performed their final gig Stateside. The original “BAGISM” artwork produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono together with Lennon’s corduroy trousers really show the breadth of material on offer.