In Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of "Hey Jude," James Campion dives deeply into the song's origins, recording, visual presentation, impact, and eventual influence, while also discovering what makes "Hey Jude" a classic musical expression of personal comfort and societal unity conceived by a master songwriter, Paul McCartney. Within its melodic brilliance and lyrical touchstones of empathy and nostalgia resides McCartney's personal and professional relationship with his childhood friend and songwriting partner, John Lennon, and their simultaneous pursuit of the women who would complete them. There are also clues to the growing turmoil within the Beatles and their splintering generation scarred by war, assassination, and virulent protest.
Campion's journey into the song includes the insights of experts in the fields of musicology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, and history. Campion also reveals commentary from noted Beatles authors, biographers, music historians, and journalists and, finally, a peek into the craft of songwriting from a host of talented composers across several generations.
Take a Sad Song is a tribute to how a song can define, inspire, and affect us in ways we do not always fully comprehend, as well as a celebration of a truly amazing track in the Beatles canon that reveals one band's genius and underscores its lasting voice in our cultural and musical landscape.
James Campion is a syndicated columnist and contributing editor for the pop culture magazine the Aquarian Weekly, where he's reported on and interviewed several and varied musical artists and reviewed concerts and albums for twenty-three years. His long-form music essays are featured in the webzine Dog Door Cultural. His work has also appeared in NY Newsday, North County News, Hackwriters, and Huff Post, among other periodicals. He is also the co-host of the popular music podcast Underwater Sunshine with Counting Crows front man, Adam Duritz. The two host an annual music festival in New York City by the same name.
"James Campion's Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of 'Hey Jude' brings the Beatles' bestselling song vividly to life. Chockful of Fab Four anecdotes and vital period details, Campion's book places readers in the studio as the Beatles transform 'Hey Jude' into the stuff of legend."—Kenneth Womack, author of John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life
"This brilliant book is a lot more than just the history of a classic song—James Campion goes so deep into 'Hey Jude,' he turns it into a whole new tune, full of mystery and delight. Even if you think you already know the Beatles' hit by heart, Take a Sad Song is full of surprising revelations into the weird spiritual resonance of 'Hey Jude' and why it's lasted so long. I can't think of another book that journeys so far into one song—and make you immediately need to hear it again. I didn't want the damn book to end, but like 'Hey Jude,' it lingers in your mind long after the music stops."—Rob Sheffield, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, author of Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World
"What James Campion has done is take the song 'Hey Jude,' explain its great presence in the hitory of twentieth-century music and society, and put it squarely in its times and ours, how the connection of the four boys from Liverpool, but especially McCartney/Lennon, were the conduit of all that happened from the early joyous 1960s to the fracturing world of the end of that decade. Using his own perspective and that of others—scholars and musicians—he is able to parse the story and make it fresh and pertinent and moving. I didn't think anyone could write anything 'new' about the Beatles, but, somehow, he's done it."—Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of the "Hey Jude" promo film, Let It Be, and The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus
"Blending musicology, cultural history, biography, and a kaleidoscope of personal stories, Take a Sad Song creates a new context for 'Hey Jude.' Not only does James Campion add to our appreciation and understanding of the Beatles' biggest hit, he also contributes new layers to the story of the greatest band of all time. Written with love and back up by deep research, this valuable addition to the Beatle bookshelf really does make it better."—Alan Light, music journalist, SiriusXM host, author of The Holy or the Broken
"Songs are about more than the individual tracks, chord changes, and performances that make up the recording; there's a special magic that happens when all the pieces come together that can touch souls and, yes, change lives. James Campion captures all of this and more in this book, exploring every aspect of the Beatle's greatest work. Never has there been a song more worthy of this kind of deep dive, and never has there been a book that does it better than Take a Sad Song." —Brad Page, I'm in Love with that Song Podcast
"James Campion has done a magnificent job of taking one incredible song and making it better—making it better because we understand its lyrics in a whole new way, appreciate it as part of the evolution of The Beatles both personally and musically, and gain new insight into the historical context of its creation in 1968, a year of such tumult. When I listened to 'Hey Jude' again after finishing Campion's book, I heard so much more in its lyrics and layers. Thank you to the author for giving us all this gift!"—Emily Auerbach, professor of English and director of the Odyssey Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
"'Take a Sad Song'' is an incredible book, full of musicologists lending insights, along with the author's insights, historical facts... you will never hear 'Hey Jude' the same again. I guarantee you.
- Matt Slys, Host of "Magical Mystery Hour," WLDW Radio, Cleveland
"Take a Sad Song is a tour de force as a piece of writing, because spending a whole book pursuing a single song like this is like running a marathon. It is the most challenging thing you can do. And there are very few books that do that successfully and I think James Campion pulls it off. It's a great book."—Tim Riley, music critic and author of Tell Me Why, What Goes On, and John Lennon—A Definitive Life