Hello, Goodbye

Chart success

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Hello, Goodbye was released in the UK on 23 November 1967, with I Am The Walrus on the b-side. It entered the charts six days later at number three, and reached the top a week later. It remained at number one for seven weeks – The Beatles’ longest chart topper since She Loves You.

The single was released in the US on 27 November. On 9 December it entered the top 40, and went on to spend three weeks at the top. It remained in the top 40 for 10 weeks. It was also included on the full-length Magical Mystery Tour LP, released on the same day as the single.

Promotional films

On 10 November 1967 The Beatles assembled at the Saville Theatre in London, formerly owned by Brian Epstein, to make three promotional film for Hello, Goodbye.

I directed the promo film we made for Hello, Goodbye. Directing a film is something that everyone always wants to get into. It was something I’d always been interested in, until I actually tried it. Then I realised it was too much like hard work. Someone summed it up when they said: ‘There’s always someone arriving saying: “Do you want the gold pistols or the silver pistols?”‘ Then you think: ‘Um, um…’ There was so much of that going on – so many decisions to be made – that I ended up hating it.

I didn’t really direct the film – all we needed was a couple of cameras, some good cameramen, a bit of sound and some dancing girls. I thought, ‘We’ll just hire a theatre and show up there one afternoon.’ And that was what we did: we took our Sgt Pepper suits along and filmed at the Saville Theatre in the West End.

Paul McCartney
Anthology

In the first film, The Beatles wore their Sgt Pepper costumes to perform in front of a psychedelic backdrop. A cutaway featured the group wearing their collarless suits from 1963, and some local dancers donned grass skirts for what was termed the ‘Maori finale’.

The second film was also a performance, although The Beatles wore their everyday – though still elaborate – clothes. In this version Ringo Starr‘s bass drum carried the familiar Beatles ‘drop-T’ logo, whereas in the first one it had been absent.

The third clip was made up of outtakes from the first two, plus footage of John Lennon performing the Twist.

Version one was shown on The Ed Sullivan Show on 26 November, and again the following night on ABC’s The Hollywood Palace. In Britain, however, the material fell foul of the Musicians’ Union ban on miming in television performances, and the films were never shown at the time.

I said, ‘Look, can we get a theatre anywhere? How about Brian’s? Is it ever empty for a minute or two? An afternoon? Sure, great.’ So we went down there, got some girls in Hawaiian skirts, got our Sgt Pepper outfits on, and I just ran out there: ‘Get a shot of this! Do this for a bit now! Let’s have a shot there! Get a close-up of him! Get the girls on their own! Go back there! Get a wide angle! We’ll edit it, we’ll make it work.’ It was very thrown away. Nice to do stuff like that.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The ‘Maori finale’ of Hello, Goodbye was also used over the closing credits of the Magical Mystery Tour film.

21 Responses to “Hello, Goodbye”

  1. Von Bontee

    Paul didn’t think this song through – he ran out of antonyms ending with the long “O”-sound and had to resort to the inconsistent “why/I don’t know” couplet. If he’d given it ten minutes of thought, he might’ve come up with any of these perfectly satisfactory pairings:

    “You say buck/I say doe”
    “You say friend/I say foe”
    “You say reap/I say sow”
    “You say to/I say fro”
    “You say shrink/I say grow”

    and my favourite:

    “You say suck/I say blow!”

    (Still an enjoyable song, but the lyrics are surely the worst thing about it.)

    Reply
    • George Demake

      Certainly not Paul’s best, but I really like the charging guitars on top of the violas in the right channel during the during the first “Hello hello” section. Has a bit of a Sgt. Pepper groove to it.

      Reply
  2. JR

    Like most everything McCartney, lines like “You say why/I say I don’t know” work anyway. I was never a big fan of this song for a long time, now so many years later I like it a lot more, it’s well arranged for one thing.

    Reply
  3. Bozo the Caucasian Artichoke

    I can’t stand the double violas — they are SO GOOD!!! They are all on one side of the mix, so put the balance all to one side and prepare to adore! I listen to them over and over again.

    Reply
  4. thomas

    Think I have to go with Paul’s lyrics :) Rewriting Beatles songs seems academic; besides, the flip side more than compensates for lyrics fans with Lennon’s Walrus. Anyway the lyrics don’t really matter here (about which Paul said: “It’s a song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white…”)

    As a song Hello Goodbye is about the melody. It’s a masterpiece of the upbeat pop and wonderful melodic compositions Paul was a genius at. I especially like Ringo’s fills and syncopations. Excellent creative drumming that’s both complex and melodic. Very enjoyable and this type of melodic song is a major reason the Beatles had so many No. one hits. The distinct coda ending is unique and powerful.

    Reply
  5. Jon S

    Hello Goodbye is brilliant! Paul at his very best. The cord progression, the vocals the unmistakable melody. The way he used major and minor cords switching back and forth and then back again. He did the same with Penny Lane and Michele. Some people say Beatle songs were so simple, if they were so simple then why isn’t everyone writing so many hits? It’s McCartney’s utter genius that’s why.

    Reply
  6. MacFan

    Great art is simple. Besides he wrote for the international consumption. Everyone knows Hello / Goodbye, Stop / Go, Yes / No etc. I say buck / you say doe????? For Pete’s sake. That’s why you’re not arguably the greatest songwriter of 20th century. While we’re at it, didn’t Lennon always whined about wanting to get back to the basics of R&R? Yeah, ‘I’m the eggman, I’m the walrus’ is really music for the masses. I take the do-do-do, da-da-da of Paul anyday.

    Reply
    • Joseph Brush

      While we’re at it, Lennon didn’t always “whine” about wanting to return to the basics of R&R. Actually Walrus was the last acid song Lennon wrote,.

      Reply
  7. Beatlenut

    I have to say, ‘Hello, Goodbye’ was never one of my favorite Beatles songs. It has a good melody and arrangements, but it just never struck me as being novel or interesting, compared to their other singles. Can’t say I liked the violas either.

    Reply
  8. John L

    In spite of the quote from Lewisohn in which Paul speaks of them singing, “heba, heba hello,” in the coda, my ears tell me I’m hearing them sing, “Hey la, heba hello.” And at 3:10-3:11 Paul sings over the background what seems to me to be “Hey-la,” which would fit with that. Here is a link to a video on YouTube with the vocals alone. What does it sound like to you who read this?

    Reply
  9. FrankDialogue

    I have to agree with Johnny on this one: It ‘smells a mile away’.

    Certainly no comparison with ‘I Am the Walrus’.

    Funny though I remember that when this single came out, ‘Walrus’ got an awful lot of commercial radio airplay too.

    Reply
  10. paskuniag

    I remember playing my friend’s copy of this 45 right after he bought it. And- as usual- I turned it over to listen to the flip side. Forty-plus years later, it’s become another single with the better song on the B-side. I remember reading a story about how Mark Lindsay and Terry Melcher, the Raiders’ producer, listened to “Walrus”, then Terry saying “What the (BLEEP) do we do now?” All of a sudden, the pop music world got a whole new dimension.

    Reply
    • Joe

      That was actually Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, but I’m sure H,G/IATW didn’t make things any easier for Lindsay and Melcher!

      Reply
  11. John Wilkinson

    When this came out I was delivering the daily papers along Wimpole Street. The Asher’s were one of my customers. I would always learn the latest Beatles single and whistle it loudly as I pushed the paper through the letter-box. My hope was that Paul was there and would feel good that the paper boy had picked up the melody a day after the first radio plays. ‘Hello Goodbye’ was an easy song to ‘catch’

    A good while later, in sadder times I sat on my trade-bike outside the same house, holding the Sunday papers that contained the headlines stating that ‘Jane Asher’s father had committed suicide in the basement of the family home’. I was wondering whether it would be better to tactfully lose this week’s edition rather than them have to face reading it.

    In the end I decided once I’d pushed them through to drop on the hall mat they could make that decision for themselves.

    Reply
    • Bungalow Bob

      John, this is a very powerful snippet of what must be a longer, riveting story. Thank you for sharing it. I had never heard of Jane Asher’s father tragically commiting suicide in their home, which is an eerie subtext to the song “Hello, Goodbye.” You probably have other pertinent observations, and I hope you post them on this site.

      Reply
  12. Billy Shears

    I never quite got this one. Musically it is interesting, but the lyrics seem contrived. Some folks state that is the reason why it is a great song . I think that Lennon can get away with semantic gymnastics, but Paul doesn’t pull this one off for me. It seems that it is a partial song with the rest just looped until it changes at the ending. almost a filler tune. – it’s no Penny Lane.

    Reply
  13. Up the Field

    It was a song with upbeat momentum, about making something out of nothing. So long Elvis, Buddy Holly, John Kennedy, Cold War, the Fifties, Vietnam. Hello the Sixties. young people, electric guitar, different lifestyles, different politics, new reinterpretations. It echoed the times. Something new was happening. The beginning of something new..

    I was reading Fred Hoyle’s history about theories of the solar system. Galileo fit right in.

    The guitar riffs hooked me. ‘I say hello’ and the guitar riff begins. Strong electric guitar momentum that just takes off. The lead guitar leads the rest. The lyrics fill in and the organ layers onto the guitar. The drum fills in between riffs and keeps the momentum going.

    Reply
  14. Stan Ploar

    Looking back fifty years later it’s one of my favorite Beatles’ tunes. Don’t know why. I can’t stand some of Paul’s songs after all these years, like “Hey Jude”, “Yesterday”, and “Let it Be” but I really like this one.

    Reply

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