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The movement you need

Is on your shoulder

Paul McCartney had this to say about those lines from “Hey Jude” in The Beatles Anthology, which was published in 2000:

I was in the music room upstairs when John and Yoko came to visit and they were right behind me over my right shoulder, standing up, listening to it as I played it to them, and when I got to the line, “The movement you need is on your shoulder,” I looked over my shoulder and I said, “I’ll change that, it’s a bit crummy. I was just blocking it out,” and John said, “You won’t, you know. That’s the best line in it!’”

Thanks, Sir Paul – that ‘splains it!

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Of all my nerdy extracurricular activities in high school, none was nerdier than the “Mathematical Puzzles and Recreation Club.”

Here’s the description of the club that was published in our high school yearbook:

Lost identities, forgotten logarithms, and baffling power equations tried the competence of members of the Mathematics Puzzles and Recreation Club.  Monthly meetings became sessions of enjoyable learning when the program committee revealed each masterpiece of mathematical computation.

(That is some bad writing, even for a high school yearbook – no great surprise given that most of our yearbook’s writing staff were student newspaper rejects.)

A ten-member team from chosen from the club’s members to compete against teams from other local high schools in an after-school math league sponsored by the local state college.  According to the yearbook, our team – whose members are pictured below – “consistently won top honors” in that league. 

Members of my high school math team
work on our slide rule technique

One spring evening in 1970, we were enjoying a delicious repast in the college cafeteria prior to collecting our trophies at the league’s annual awards ceremony when my best friend and I came up with a brilliant idea.

When we saw that the master of ceremonies was about to start handing out awards, we hurried to the cafeteria jukebox, dropped in a dime, and selected “Hey Jude.”

It took the MC a little time to make his way to the podium and arrange his notes and the other accoutrements for the upcoming ceremony.  

He then listened patiently to Paul McCartney’s dulcet tones for a minute or two – perhaps not realizing that “Hey Jude” is seven minutes and eleven seconds long.

The coda of “Hey Jude” – the part with the oft-repeated “naa-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey Jude!” line – lasts about four minutes.  I don’t think we were very far into the coda when the college powers-that-be who were present huddled and decided upon a strategy.  

One of the members walked over to the jukebox, pulled it a foot or two away from the wall, and unplugged it.  

Sayonara, “Hey Jude.”  (We hardly knew ye!)

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McCartney and the Beatles’ producer, George Martin, were worried that “Hey Jude” wouldn’t get much radio play because of its extreme length.  But John Lennon – who said that radio stations would play the record “because it’s us” – turned out to be right.

“Hey Jude” became the Beatles’ 16th #1 hit record in September 1968.  It held down the top spot on the Billboard “Hot 100” for nine weeks.  (Only six other records – including Elvis’s “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog,” Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” – were #1 for longer.)

Jimmy Webb, the composer of the one and only “MacArthur Park,” visited the Abbey Road Studios shortly after “Hey Jude” was recorded.  He says that George Martin told him that it was no accident that “Hey Jude” was one second longer than Richard Harris’s unforgettable recording of Webb’s masterpiece. 

Martin thought highly of Webb’s music, and Webb greatly respected Martin’s ability as a producer.  Here’s a photo of the two men working together in a Los Angeles recording studio in 1976:

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Click here to watch the Beatles performing “Hey Jude,” which is the second Beatles’ record to be inducted into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME.

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: