The recent 15 second video from whaIedreamers, entitled Pete Best, had a quick reference to His Royal Hipness, Lord Buckley.
Buckley was an original, a charismatic entertainer with a style all his own. He would take well known stories and present them often with significant distortions in the style reminiscent of a British aristocrat or Hip Jazzman, or some unique combination. Buckley lived a very colorful joyful life but experienced a dark tragic death caught up in a web of political corruption, intoxicants and illness. I don’t know if it was the way he lived or the way he died that earned him a place as a Beatles favorite.
According to Wiki, this pot smoking, hard drinking party animal, who often entertained guests in the nude and served as a test subject in LSD research, was a very close friend of Ed Sullivan, who even got him out of some scrapes with the law. After an evening of hearing stories from Buckley’s former manager, George Grief, George Harrison wrote the song “Crackerbox Palace” named after Buckley’s home.
Lord Buckley was way ahead of his time in terms of his views on civil rights for minorities and his general love of people. Those qualities showed themselves in his retelling of Biblical stories including "Jonah" and “The Nazz,” a retelling (and re-writing) of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. But, Buckley also had a dark side that came out in works like a take on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Bad-Rapping of the Marquis de Sade.” Again it is hard to tell which side of him earned the respect of the Beatles.
When I first heard Lord Buckley’s performance of “The Nazz” it was an eye opener. I don’t know what I expected, but this was something unlike anything I had ever heard. Despite the extremely unusual delivery, I was able to catch on to the story and recognize the familiar elements from the Gospels. But one interesting thing was that His Royal Hipness for reasons unknown took the part where Peter tries to walk on water and replaces him with Jude. And when Jude attempts to make it to the Nazz in the impossible act of walking on water, the Nazz says to him, “Make it, Jude” in a manner very similar to the way Paul says it during the Na na na chorus of “Hey Jude.”
You can listen to the line yourself by downloading it here.
There is no way to know if Paul McCartney really was thinking about or paying tribute to Lord Buckley in the heat of vocal ad libbing on “Hey Jude.” But one interesting commonality is that in the case of Lord Buckley, the name Jude was a substitute for Peter and in the case of Paul McCartney, the name Jude was a substitute for Jules, if we are to believe his frequent telling of the story of how he wrote it while on the way to see Julian Lennon shortly after the break up of John and Cyn.
The Nazz is clearly a religious piece, which is not the case with “Hey Jude.” Or is it? Listen to the way Alan Pollack describes “Hey Jude” in his well respected “Notes On” series.
This gambit, combined with the sensation created by the sustained-note doubling of the bassline, creates an astonishingly transcendental effect. I stumble for metaphors to describe it, but the sorts of things which come to mind are "the music of the spheres", "the long caravan which passes slowly by", or perhaps, a painting in which the perspective is so deep that the vanishing point of singularity seems to approach the infinite.
That sounds a bit spiritual to me! But there may be a dark side to this. The Biblical book of Jude is unique in that it quotes the Book of Enoch. Jude is in the Bible, but the Book of Enoch was not accepted in the Biblical Canon. In fact, the apocryphal books that carry the name of Enoch have often been associated with mysticism and the occult.
It is hard to get a handle on how exactly Lord Buckley relates to Paul Is Dead, but I think we will eventually find a connection, since he has appeared in other Rotten Apple Videos including the excellent RA 62.
Regarding the song, “Hey Jude” let’s hear from Alan Pollack one more time:
Verse 4 — Note Macca's melodic ornamentation of the initial "Hey Jude" phrase, and how the parallel thirds of the backing vocal follows all the way through this verse. There's also the final vocal flourish ("better, better, ...") which leads to the jam section; it actually sounds triple tracked — two Maccas singing the flourish itself, and a third singing "make it, Jude."
“Hey Jude” has always been considered one of the most wholesome songs in the Beatles catalog. Nothing sinister about it, right? Actually there has always been a rumor that the recording contained the F-word. Former Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick in his 2006 book, “Here, There and Everywhere” confirmed that Paul uttered the dreaded word after hitting a bad note on the piano and the outburst did make it onto the final record.
There has also been some argument about the actual length of the song “Hey Jude.” My original Apple single says 7:11 on the label. But, but if you read any Bruce Spizer Beatle books you will know that the labels are notoriously inaccurate. The meticulous Alan Pollack clocks it at 7:07. However, some Beatles aficionados, especially those with a penchant for PID, insist that their stopwatches indicate that the song is exactly 7:06. Breaking away from conventional time reporting you could say that 7 minutes and 6 seconds is equal to 6 minutes and 66 seconds.
Make it, Jude!