Hey Jude: meaning of lyrics and music to me
Take a sad song and make it better
Every time I hear the opening bars of this song it’s such an emotional moment. Here’s why. This is Hey Jude: the meaning of the lyrics and music. A very personal perspective.
My heart strings
Ten years ago this coming September, I had to make the most difficult song choice of my life. My mother passed away suddenly, and I had to choose the funeral music.
Due to her mental health problems, my mother had severed contact with me several years previously. I was an only child, and she had parted from my father when I was ten. My grandmother, her mother, was still alive then, but could, perfectly understandably (and partly due to her own ill health), not cope with making funeral arrangements. Her brother – my uncle – survived, too, but their relationship had often been strained. Even before she pushed my grandmother and I away too.
Picking up the pieces
It was all down to me. So with the support of my husband, I went about arranging a funeral. Choosing flowers, phoning people – many of whom I’d never met. Picking through her flat, for pieces with sentimental value to take home with us, and packing up the rest. In short, tying up the loose ends of the frayed, flawed life of someone I’d loved very much but had been estranged from for a while – despite the best endeavours of myself, my Nanna and several others.
I spoke to my Dad, as he’d known my mother during her best years, before mental illness had got her too firmly in its grasp. He agreed it had to be the Beatles, and approved of my choosing ‘Hey Jude’.
I wasn’t quite so sure. It was a song I’d always loved, so was I prepared to give it up? I was worried that I’d never be able to hear it again without being in floods of tears. That could be tricky, it being such a national treasure of a tune.
An iconic song
It was the only one that felt right, though, so I went ahead. Paul McCartney sang us both into and out of the service, simply because I couldn’t think of another song quite as fitting.
Of course, ‘Hey Jude’ is played from time to time. Could I take this sad song and make it better?
I needn’t have been afraid. Yes, it made me cry for the first few years, but by the time London hosted the Olympics in 2012, I was ready to join in with Sir Paul, the crowd, the entire stadium singing as one. It was a very special moment, and made me very proud. Proud to be British, proud of what I’d picked, and most of all, proud of the beautiful, fragile, damaged lady who would always be my mother – and now, my daughter’s grandmother.
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