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Paul McCartney surprised a journalist by saying he didn’t have The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” memorized. Other classic Beatles songs weren’t any easier for him to learn. Paul also revealed what he thought of “Hey Jude” and some other classic Beatles songs in retrospect.

Paul McCartney has to relearn The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Yesterday’

During a 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, Paul explained his tour routine. “When I’m doing shows I listen to a lotta music, Beatles music, Wings music, to see what ones we’re gonna do,” he said. “And to learn them.”

A reporter was surprised to learn that Paul didn’t know the lyrics of “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday,” and “Band on the Run” by heart. “There’s too many,” he said. “Too many words. Too many notes. They’re very hard. I mean, you know, it’s not like they’re all three chords.”

Paul’s comments might be surprising to others, but they make perfect sense. The Beatles released over 200 tunes, including the recent single “Now and Then.” On top of that, Paul put out numerous tracks with Wings and as a solo artist. It would be ridiculous to expect him to remember all the words to each song. Even Albert Einstein would have a difficult time memorizing all of that material!

The Beatles did not know how to read or write music

In the 60 Minutes interview, Paul revealed he always had an unorthodox relationship with his own music. “I don’t read music or write music,” he said. “None of us did in The Beatles.

“We did some good stuff though,” he added with his trademark wit. “But none of it was written down by us. It’s basically notation. That’s the bit I can’t do. ‘Cause I don’t see music like that.”


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What Paul McCartney thought of ‘Hey Jude’ decades after he wrote it

During a 1989 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Paul was asked to name his favorite songs he wrote. He put “Hey Jude” on his list. The other gems he picked included “All My Loving,” “The Fool on the Hill,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” and Wings’ “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

“The more we go through this, the more I think [Bob] Dylan was right when he said all your songs are like your children,” he opined. “I understand why fans want to know what is really your fave, but the truth there are things I like equally about all the songs you’ve mentioned, but I feel like I’m going to come across as stuck on myself if I keep saying, ‘Yeah, I really like that one too.”

Paul said he never knew how important a song would become as he was writing it. He felt tunes had lives of their own. He said it was amazing to watch “Hey Jude” gain such a following. Even in 2024, it remains one of the most acclaimed songs ever and it’s fade-out is impossible to beat.

“Hey Jude” is the most memorable song in The Beatles’ catalog even if Paul can’t remember all of it.