Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hey Jude

Paul McCartney and Julian Lennon (John Lennon on the right in the background)

Jane Asher, Paul McCartney Julian Lennon

Paul McCartney, Julian Lennon, Jane Asher

Julian Lennon and Paul McCartney during the making of "Magical Mystery Tour"

McCartney and two of his biological children
Probably the most wonderful aspect of Paul McCartney's character is his concern for children. This isn't generally commented on, because for most people being a good father-figure is not an especially interesting trait in a rock musician, for all its rarity.

Mackenzie Phillips, who had the misfortune of a bad father, has a wonderful story about McCartney:
“I must have been five or six – we were with dad in L.A. for a visit. His fellow band member, Cass Eliot (the other ‘Mama’) had a party at her house in Laurel Canyon. We walked into Cass’s house and there was Paul McCartney and George Harrison. When I saw Paul McCartney, I glommed on to him like a baby groupie. He kept saying, ‘Go on love, get up and dance.’ In a rare moment of shyness, I demurred. I was afraid people would laugh at me. He insisted. I refused. The exchange circled, a teasing game between a little kid and a world-famous musician. Finally I broke down and started dancing. The adults began to point and laugh at the little five-year-old dancing for the rock star. I turned bright red and burst into tears, but then Paul McCartney started consoling me. I was no dummy. I liked being consoled by Paul McCartney. The more he comforted, the more tears I summoned. Finally he picked me up and carried me into a hammock that was suspended in the middle of Cass’s dining room on a pulley. Someone hoisted us up, up, up. The ceilings were two stories tall and we were suspended fifteen feet in the air. I was still snuffling. Paul snuggled up with me until I finally calmed down and eventually fell asleep. The two of us napped together in that hammock, suspended high above the party. You could say I got high and slept with Paul McCartney.” 
I imagine few men in her father's world were in any way paternal. I certainly can't imagine any of the other Beatles, let alone someone like Mick Jagger, paying attention to a child in the middle of what was almost certainly a drug-filled extravaganza.

McCartney's most famous father-figure relationship (outside of his own five children) was with John Lennon's first son, Julian, who said:
 “Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit—more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.”
And of course that relationship was the basis for one of McCartney's best songs (John Lennon called it one of his masterpieces) "Hey Jude." Elvis Costello considers it the Beatles' seventh greatest song.
"I was going out in my car, just vaguely singing this song," McCartney said, "and it was like, 'Hey, Jules. . . .' And then I just thought a better name was Jude. A bit more country & western for me." The opening lines were "a hopeful message for Julian: 'Come on, man, your parents got divorced. I know you're not happy, but you'll be OK.'"