John Lennon discussed Paul & Paula’s “Hey Paula” and several other songs on an episode of a famous television show. In his typical fashion, the “Imagine” singer proved hard to please. However, he didn’t attack every song played on the show.
John Lennon discussed Paul & Paula’s ‘Hey Paula’ and 1 Elvis Presley song on TV
According to Salon, John appeared on an episode of the show Juke Box Jury in 1963. The show was about judging new pop songs. While The Beatles had hits before John’s appearance on Juke Box Jury, the episode helped the band gain more notoriety.
On the show, John was asked to judge Elvis Presley’s “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise,” Tom Glazer’s “On Top of Spaghetti,” Julie Grant’s “Don’t Ever Let Me Down,” Miriam Makeba’s “The Click Song,” and Paul & Paula’s “First Quarrel.”
While discussing “First Quarrel,” John mentioned Paul & Paula’s first single, “Hey Paula.” “Well, I like their first record, because I like the octave singing — her singing one above him—and it wasn’t bad,” he said. “I didn’t buy it.”
John Lennon wasn’t a fan of other tunes by Paul & Paula
Next, John revealed his opinions on Paul & Paul’s next two singles: “Young Lovers” and “First Quarrel.” “And the second one, you know, wasn’t worth bothering,” he said. “This has ‘Jim’ in it. All these American records are always about Jim and Bobby and Alfred and all this. I don’t like it.” For context, the lyrics of “First Quarrel” are about Paul falsely believing Paula is cheating on him with someone named Jim.
During the same episode, John was asked how he felt about music made by women. “Well, I like girl singers,” he replied. “I like The Shirelles and [The] Chiffons, you know. They’re different. But I can’t think of any girl in particular.”
John set a precedent for rock stars appearing on Juke Box Jury when he dismissed every song they played. Later, The Rolling Stones appeared on the program and trashed all the songs. The Sex Pistols were even less impressed. In a display of punk rock irreverence, Johnny Rotten walked off the set.
How listeners in the United States reacted to ‘Hey Paula’
Regardless of John’s reaction to “Hey Paula,” the tune became a huge hit. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits says the track topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. It could have been the perfect start to a major pop career, but that just wasn’t in the cards.
Despite this, Ray Hildebrand — who wrote “Hey Paula” and played the role of Paul in the song — wasn’t a huge fan of the record business. He decided to leave it to focus on his spiritual journey as a Christian.
Jill Jackson a.k.a. Paula repeatedly tried to get Hildebrand to change his mind. He just wasn’t interested. While their time together was brief, “Hey Paula” remains one of the most famous songs from the malt shop era of music.
John wasn’t criticized a lot of early 1960s pop music but even he liked “Hey Paula.”