Song facts: Julia

On October 13th 1968, John Lennon recorded Julia; the 30th and final song recorded for the Beatles' forthcoming White Album. Lennon wrote the song about his mother Julia who was tragically killed in 1958 when John was only 17. Lennon also sang about his future wife Yoko Ono in the lyrics ocean child calls me (Yoko translates to child of the sea in Japanese). Later in life Lennon would refer to Yoko as mother.

Recording

The song was recorded with sparing production in only three takes. A mostly-instrumental version can be found on The Beatles' Anthology 3 album, released in 1996. On this take Paul McCartney can be heard talking to John from the control room, discussing the track.

Although credited to Lennon/McCartney this song was purely John's; so much so that he recorded it on his own without any other Beatle playing or singing on the track; the first time John Lennon ever did this.

Scottish folk troubadour Donovan Leitch had taught Lennon the finger picking style known as Travis-picking, while The Beatles were in India earlier that year. He used this style of playing on Dear Prudence and Julia. 

"Some afternoons we would gather at one of our pads and play the acoustic guitars we had all brought with us. Paul Horn, the American flute wizard, was there. John was keen to learn the finger-style guitar I played and he was a good student. Paul already had a smattering of finger style. George preferred his Chet Atkins style. John wrote Julia and Dear Prudence based on the picking I taught him." - Donovan

"Julia was my mother. But it was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one. That was written in India. On the White Album. And all the stuff on the White Album was written in India while we were supposedly giving money to Maharishi, which we never did. We got our mantra, we sat in the mountains eating lousy vegetarian food and writing all those songs. We wrote tons of songs in India." - John Lennon

Personnel

  • John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocals, acoustic guitar, classical guitar, humming
image.jpg
 John Lennon at a White Album session, 1968. 

John Lennon at a White Album session, 1968. 

 John Lennon at a White Album session, 1968. 

John Lennon at a White Album session, 1968. 

 John Lennon, 1968.

John Lennon, 1968.

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