Track of the Day: 'Hey Jude' by Wilson Pickett

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

From reader Peter Schafer:

I’m old enough to barely remember the Beatles singing Hey Jude on television as a small child and it captivated me, the endless child-syllable repetition. But I came to dislike it intensely in later life (for the same reasons I liked it as a child?).

Then in my late teens I came across the Duane Allman Anthology album, an incredible body of studio work with artists such as Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, Boz Scaggs, and Wilson Pickett. Pickett’s cover of Hey Jude liberates it from its origin story so that its greatness freely emerges, rising.

And then skyrocketing at the 2:40 mark. From another reader who recommends it, Alyson Vaughan:

Now, I’m a big fan of The Beatles. So much that it I feel guilty for loving a cover of such an iconic song. From what I understand (my source being the music documentary Muscle Shoals), there was initially some hesitancy to produce this cover due to the fact that in 1969 The Beatles’ original was still soaring in the charts. They did it anyway, transforming the song with Wilson Pickett’s soulful vocals, and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (aka “The Swampers”) featuring a young Duane Allman on guitar. Just wait for his solo. You can’t miss it.

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