British musician Paul McCartney performs during the "One on One" tour concert in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Paul McCartney had no idea anybody would associate the now iconic Beatles song “Hey Jude” with the Jews. That was, until he got a very angry phone call.
In a video interview with GQ magazine published this week, the former Beatles singer was discussing the origins and history of many of the band’s most famous songs.
The song, he said, was originally going to be called Hey Jules, for John Lennon’s son Julian. But later, McCartney decided he preferred the name Jude instead.
“I didn’t realize it meant Jewish,” the singer said in the video published on Monday.
“Actually I nearly got into trouble, because we put it up on a window of our shop... so that people going by on the buses would see.”
McCartney was referring to the Apple Boutique, a shortlived business venture the Beatles opened in London in 1967.
But one day in 1968, McCartney said, “I got this furious phone call from this guy, Mr.
Leon, who was Jewish, he said: ‘What are you doing, how dare you do this.’” The singer added that “In Hitler’s day, in the Nazi thing, ‘Juden raus’ meant Jews out. And I didn’t connect.”
The man, McCartney said, was very angry, and threatened to send his son round “to beat you up.” But the Beatles legend assured him that “no, no, no, wait a minute, I swear to you it’s nothing like that... cool it down, it has nothing to do with that, you’ll hear when you hear the record. It’s just a name in a song.”
McCartney said that while he calmed Mr. Leon down, “suddenly I was alerted to the fact that it would have caused him a lot of problems, because his family will have experienced that firsthand probably.”
According to several books about the history of the Beatles, many others in London’s Jewish community were unhappy with the words “Hey Jude” on the storefront of the Apple Boutique. Controversy aside, the store, one of the Beatles first business ventures, was open for less than a year before closing its doors.