- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, bass guitar
- John Lennon – backing vocal, acoustic guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – backing vocal, drums, tambourine
- Bobby Kok - Cello
- Bill Jackman - Flute
- Brian Warren - Flute
* The musicians on the track were not recorded and the rest of the musicians remain unknown.
Hey, Jude Is a Paul McCartney song, written for John Lennon's son, Julian, at the time of John's divorce from Cynthia. (Julian did not know the song was written for him until many years later.) Paul had always been a supportive figure for Julian, and he knew that his father's new-found love in Yoko Ono would make life hard on the six-year old. Paul visited Cynthia and Julian in June of 1968 in Weybridge, and on one day, returning from the visit, he recorded the demo of Hey, Jude on his piano. When he played it for the group, John responded very positively, working to have Hey, Jude placed on the a-side of the next Beatles' single (shifting the Lennon song, Revolution to the b-side). It was recorded in just four takes at the Trident Studios in London of July 31, 1968, with take 1 being chosen as best. Orchestral overdubs and dubs for the coda were added the following day. The single release was on August 26 in the US and August 30 in the UK. By September it was number one in the pop charts in both countries. The song appears on Hey, Jude; The Beatles 1967-1970; Past Masters, Volume Two; and The Beatles 1. At 7 minutes and 11 seconds long, Hey, Jude is one of the Beatles' longest tracks, and it was exceptionally long for commercial pop music during the 1960's. It was the longest pop single released in the US up to that time (pre-American Pie). Hey, Jude was also the first single released on the Beatles' own custom label, "Apple." It was the Beatles' longest-standing number one song in the United States, staying on top for nine weeks straight. It sold over 8 million copies in the US.
In the recording session for Hey, Jude, Paul and George began an argument over how the lead guitar should (or should not) echo lines in the verse. As a consequence, George bore a resentment of Paul that would remain in their relationship for years.
Hey Jude is particularly noteworthy for the outro or coda. Two versions of Paul's voice are double-tracked so that they work through two octaves (low E to high F), while a third version of Paul's voice ad-libs lines and performs scat. There is a heavy high note, ushering in the second half. This coda is almost 4 minutes long -- compared with 3:12 for the whole song up to that point. Paul repeats the lyric, "Na... na-na na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, Hey Jude" nineteen times in this coda.