Hey Jude Lyric Analysis
by Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC
Hey Jude is one of the most popular and well-known songs of all time. Almost any time I have heard it played, it seems to create a transcendent musical experience, where everyone feels connected and united through music. For whatever reason, it seems to be a song that just makes people feel good.
When I do a lyric analysis of this song, I have done it mostly in groups with live music played by me, and by using the recording by The Beatles. I would recommend getting a feel for the group dynamics – or the dynamic between you and an individual – when deciding which to use. I know live music is preferred by music therapists, but with a song like this, sometimes the original music can have just as much of an impact.
Here’s a breakdown of my process using this song:
- Ask clients what stands out to them in the lyrics – is there anything that has special meaning to them?
- Dissect the lyrics – I typically go through each verse then do the choruses, but for this song, it works to just go through each section in order.
- Talk about what their thoughts are now that they’ve talked about the lyrics vs. our initial thoughts hearing the song – has anything changed? Why or why not?
- Talk about what the meaning of the song is – it doesn’t have to be what The Beatles meant for it to be, just what the clients think it means to them or for them.
- Ask about the formatting – Does saying “Hey Jude” make it sound like the singer is speaking to someone else? Or are they talking to themselves?
Once we finish going over the minutiae of the song/lyrics, I introduce the supplemental task: A Note to Self, where the clients will use the lyrics from the song to create an encouraging note/letter for their future selves. We initially start out with a similar format of the song followed by a statement or two of encouragement, then it’s more of a free write, though I usually ask clients to write at least three nice things about themselves.
Sample Note to Self following Hey Jude Lyric Analysis:
I know things might be tough right now, but you are strong and resilient. Remember to practice your breathing, and relax your shoulders and your jaw – you won’t even realize you’ve been clenching! You have a strong support system and have grown so much. Make sure to take time to rest when you need it – nothing operates 24/7 at max capacity. And remember, your best and your 100% effort changes every day; don’t put pressure on yourself to be at peak performance every day.”
Sometimes I’ve had groups request to hear their letters in song format, so I will sing their letters for them if they want to share. Other times, folks just want to keep their words for themselves, which is absolutely fine.
To make it extra fun, I like to ask them to fold their letter/note up so that it is something they can actually open when it is needed. Here’s a YouTube video for how to do it, unless you were a 90s kid and already know the drill 🙂
I hope this Hey Jude lyric analysis can be a helpful tool to have in your music therapy toolbox!