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Paul McCartney wrote this. His friend Alistair Taylor, who was visiting McCartney, asked Paul one day how he wrote his many songs, and how he came up with his ideas. Paul took him into his dining room to give him a demonstration of his hand-carved harmonium. As an experiment, Paul asked Taylor to shout out the opposite of whatever he sang, such as black and white, yes and no, hello and goodbye, etc. From this, the song was born.
John Lennon hated the song. He viewed it as an inconsequential song of McCartney's, saying it was "three minutes of contradictions and meaningless juxtapositions." What further infuriated Lennon was that his "I Am The Walrus," was issued as the B-side to McCartney's A-side "Hello Goodbye." (thanks, gavin - hampden, MA, for above 2)
This is a song about how people are always different in what they say and do. (thanks, Tom - Syracuse, NY)
The Beatles made a music video for this, but at the time they were called promotional films. It was banned by the BBC because Paul was clearly lip-synching, which was against The British Musician's Union's rules.
Shortly after this was released, McCartney explained, "The answer to everything is simple. It's a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That's the amazing thing about life."
The ending where all The Beatles sing, "Hela, hey, aloha," was improvised in the studio. This part plays over the end credits of the Magical Mystery Tour movie. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
The working title was "Hello, hello."
There is a fake ending on this song that drove disk jockeys nuts, as the sound of dead air made them think the song had ended before they were ready.
Target used this in commercials with the lyrics changed to "Hello, Good Buy." The Beatles do not control the publishing rights for most of their songs and cannot keep them from being re-recorded and used in ads.
In 2008, Jonas Brothers recorded the song for a new Target commercial.
When Paul McCartney played a show in Tel Aviv, Israel on September 25, 2008, he opened with this song. It was the first time a Beatle performed in the country. Ofer Lichtman, who covered the show for The Times of Malta, wrote: There is still a debate regarding the true reason behind declining The Beatles' arrival to perform in Israel. The common story behind it was simply the lack of money and the prudence of the Israeli government. Due to Israel's poor economical situation in the 60's the organizers and promoters could not come up with the sufficient funds that were claimed and when they appealed to the Israeli Government for help, they were turned down because "The Beatles were a threat on the morality of the youth."
43 years later, earlier this year, the Israeli Government has sent its ambassador in Britain to officially apologize to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and to the relatives of John Lennon and George Harrison for its unfortunate decision. After weeks of nerve racking anticipations and contradicting headlines, Paul jumped on the stage in Tel Aviv in front of an audience of 50,000 people and gave us an outstanding night to remember and a story to tell our children and grandchildren. After all those years Paul has desided to come and play in Israel in spite the many life threats he got from extreme Islamic groups.
In 2009 The Performing Rights Society announced this as the most ever played Beatles song in public places in the UK. One of the reasons for this is that this was the first Beatles single release after BBC Radio 1 started broadcasting and the station played this song endlessly.
California power pop band Hellogoodbye took their name from this song.
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristian talks songwriting technique, like how the chorus should redefine the story, and how to write a song backwards.
The acclaimed jazz singer explains how dancing expands her range as a vocalist.