Paul McCartney denies romance with John Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia

21 March 2024, 11:13

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By Mayer Nissim

Paul McCartney opens up about how 'Hey Jude' came to be.

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Every Beatles fan knows that Paul McCartney wrote 'Hey Jude' for John Lennon's son Julian.

As the well-known story goes, when John had split from his first wife Cynthia, Paul wrote 'Hey Jude' – originally 'Hey Jules' – to comfort John and Cynthia's then 5-year-old child.

John and Cynthia Powell got married soon after she told him that she was pregnant with his child, but the marriage floundered under the stress of Lennon's fame and infidelities.

They formally divorced in 1968, and Cynthia believed that John had told all his bandmates to cease all contact with her. Paul apparently refused and went to visit Cynthia and Julian, prompting untrue rumours of a fling between the two.

The Beatles - Hey Jude

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Paul has rebuffed the suggestion in the latest episode of Paul McCartney: A Life in Lyrics – co-produced by iHeartPodcasts and Pushkin – where he talks about the writing of 'Hey Jude'.

"I was travelling one day to see Julian Lennon and his mother, Cynthia, and I used to call him 'Jules', Paul told his pod and book partner Paul Muldoon.

Paul McCartney - A Life in Lyrics
Paul McCartney - A Life in Lyrics. Picture: Pushkin

"So the song started off when I was in the car driving out, which was a 45 minute drive out of central London, and people had sort of suggested, oh, you know, I fancied Cynthia and we were going out.

"Well, people can suggest anything they like, but I didn't. I was just going out just as a friend to sort of see them."

He added: "And so in my mind 'Hey, Jules, don't make it bad. I know this is tough for you, but take a sad song and make it better. Your dad's just left you'.

Paul McCartney in 1968, with John Lennon and his wife Cynthia
Paul McCartney in 1968, with John Lennon and his wife Cynthia. Picture: Alamy

"So it was like trying to be encouraging. So it was an encouraging song."

Despite their not having a romantic relationship, when he had written 'Hey Jude', Paul jokingly "proposed" to Cynthia with a red rose to cheer her up, too.

"The only person who came to see me was Paul," Cynthia wrote in her memoir John.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Cynthia Lennon
John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Cynthia Lennon. Picture: Getty Images

"He arrived one sunny afternoon, bearing a red rose, and said, 'I’m so sorry, Cyn, I don't know what’s come over him. This isn’t right'.

"On the way down to see us he had written a song for Julian. It began as “Hey Jules” and later became “Hey Jude,” which sounded better.

"He joked about us getting married – 'How about it, Cyn?' – and I was grateful to him for cheering me up and caring enough to come."