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 academic experts and professors in the field 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, 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 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