Take A Sad Song… Reviews

Praise for Take a Sad Song thus far…

“What James Campion has done is take the song ‘Hey Jude,’ explain its great presence in the history of twentieth-century music and society, and put it squarely in its times and ours. He shows how the connection of the four boys from Liverpool, but especially McCartney/Lennon, were the conduit of all that happened from the early joyous 1960s to the fracturing world of the end of that decade. Using his own perspective and that of others—scholars, musicians—he is able to parse the story and make it fresh and pertinent and moving.  I didn’t think anyone could write anything ‘new’ about the Beatles, but, somehow, he’s done it.” 

Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of the “Hey Jude” promo film Let It Be and The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus

“James Campion’s Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of ‘Hey Jude’ brings the Beatles’ bestselling song vividly to life. Chockful of Fab Four anecdotes and vital period details, Campion’s book places readers in the studio as the Beatles transform ‘Hey Jude’ into the stuff of legend.”

Kenneth Womack, author of John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life

“Blending musicology, cultural history, biography, and a kaleidoscope of personal stories, Take a Sad Song creates a new context for “Hey Jude.” Not only does James Campion add to our appreciation and understanding of the Beatles’ biggest hit, he also contributes new layers to the story of the greatest band of all time. Written with love and backed up by deep research, this valuable addition to the Beatle bookshelf really does make it better.”

Alan Light – music journalist, SiriusXM host, author of “The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujah’”

“This brilliant book is a lot more than just the history of a classic song—James Campion goes so deep into ‘Hey Jude,’ he turns it into a whole new tune, full of mystery and delight. Even if you think you already know the Beatles’ hit by heart, TAKE A SAD SONG is full of surprising revelations into the weird spiritual resonance of “Hey Jude,” and why it’s lasted so long. I can’t think of another book that journeys so far into one song—and makes you immediately need to hear it again. I didn’t want the damn book to end, but like “Hey Jude,” it lingers in your mind long after the music stops.”

Rob Sheffiled, Contributing Editor, Rolling Stone, author of Dreaming the Beatles.

“Songs are about more than the individual tracks, chord changes & performances that make up the recording; there’s a special magic that happens when all the pieces come together that can touch souls and, yes, change lives. James Campion captures all of this and more in this book, exploring every aspect of The Beatles’ greatest work. Never has there been a song more worthy of this kind of deep dive, and never has there been a book that does it better than ‘Take A Sad Song’.”

— Brad Page, I’m in Love with that Song Podcast

“James is a gifted writer and experienced music journalist who has so much insight himself into the story and cultural relevance of “Hey Jude.” And yet, his book parallels that sense of togetherness found within the song itself as he seamlessly weaves in sentiments of other experts, writers, musicians, and historians who have had personal experience with “Hey Jude.” James recognition that the universal power of the song is only found within the individual connections of others it is what makes his writing so powerful.”

—Trevor and Shane, Album Divers Podcast

“James Campion’s “Take A Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of ‘Hey Jude’” is an exceptionally well-written and well-researched deep dive into one of the most iconic songs of all time. Packed with insight and analysis from well-respected songwriters, composers, music historians, Beatles historians, along with professors of philosophy, psychology and music theory, this book breaks down every aspect of “Hey Jude” from the thought-provoking lyrics, to the multi-faceted musical arrangement, right up to the emotional “Na Na Na” coda.

“Take A Sad Song” is proof that there are endlessly compelling stories behind a song that has captured our minds, hearts and souls in ways we may never have understood how or why…until now. This book is a must-read not just for every Beatles fan, but for every fan of music and its emotional value for which you just can’t put a price on.”

—Eric Senich, Host of the Booked On Rock podcast, BOOKEDONROCK.COM

If you’re a Beatles fan looking for something new, a straight-up diehard “Hey Jude” fan, or someone who is just interested in the mechanics of why songs work with us as humans, then I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is incredibly detailed, deftly researched, and yet it is still a fun, reasonably breezy affair that tells you everything you want to know and more about one of the greatest most well-known songs of all time.”

—Tom Whiles, Host of the Paul or Nothing Podcast

“Love this book. What a work of art it is in itself. I know of no other book like it.”

– Dan Bern, songwriter/novelist/painter/film-maker

“The impact of ‘Hey Jude’ from a song to an event is incalculable. By definition or perhaps default, this milestone in music has come to define the personal and professional attainments one feels – whether it be a comforting lyric in a time of mourning or a place that thousands of artists aspire to reach every time they compose. Campion has fashioned a unique testament to the power of one song to countless individuals.”

—Amy Hughes, Beatles-Freak’s Reviews, click here for full review

It’s been a long few weeks between oral surgery and COVID, but this is an absolutely unmitigated capital-G GOOD THING: I’m honored to call James Campion a friend, but I’d have been first in line to buy this book whether I knew him or not. “Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of ‘Hey Jude’” manages to be both rigorous in its exploration of song and conversational in a way that makes it feel like just having a great talk with someone who really knows his stuff. And it’s not humble to admit this, but James actually asked me for comment while he was writing— there is nothing in my entire career that I’m as proud of as being in not only a book on The Beatles, but JAMES’S book on The a Beatles. I’ll be sharing some amazing podcasts he’s done throughout the week so you can all enjoy his energy. I have needed something positive: this is it.

Katie Darby Mullins, Associate Professor of Writing, University of Evansville

“James Campion has done a magnificent job of taking one incredible song and making it better–making it better because we understand its lyrics in a whole new way, appreciate it as part of the evolution of the Beatles both personally and musically, and gain new insight into the historical context of its creation in 1968, a year of such tumult. When I listened to ‘Hey Jude’ again after finishing Campion’s book, I heard so much more in its lyrics and layers. Thank you to the author for giving us all this gift!” 

Emily Auerbach, Professor of English, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Not hiding his obsession for “Hey Jude,” Campion delivers an in-depth account of an important song; Beatlemaniacs will be pleased.

Dr. Dave Szatmary, Library Journal

There are fewer than a dozen books out there about a single song, and that’s not an accident. It’s an impossible task to undertake: is there enough to talk about? don’t get too technical! don’t read too deeply into things that aren’t there! don’t bore us!! 

Well, Campion does none of these things. This book is an outright success, from the first page to the last. And while the book IS about the song Hey Jude of course, it covers much more than that. His device of using song lyrics simultaneously as chapter names and to frame the chapter’s topic (inspiration, family, Beatles history, song structure, social upheaval, etc) is very, very clever, and sets you up for what you will be reading over the following pages.

Campion is a true expert on pop culture and pop music—you only have to read his other books or listen to his and Adam Duritz’s Underwater Sunshine Podcast to find that out—but he never comes across as overbearing or lecturing here. Instead, he is more that happy to let the dozens of experts he interviewed for the book tell the story, deftly weaving their thoughts and observations together with his own research. 

If you like the song Hey Jude, or any song, or The Beatles, or any other band, or music in general, or the 60s, or your mom, read this book.

— Peter Blasevick, Good Reads

Comments are closed.