The Beatles 40 best songs: at 30 “Julia”


Julia was written by John Lennon for his mother, she died in a traffic accident in 1958. It is also the only solo Lennon recording in The Beatles’ song catalogue.

“The only solo Lennon recording in the Beatles’ catalog, “Julia” was the final addition to the White Album, recorded just three days before the album was sequenced. His original demo, recorded in May, had included harmonies from McCartney, but this version was just Lennon’s voice and guitar. “Julia was my mother,” Lennon said. “But it was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one” — the “ocean child” in the lyrics refers to Ono’s name, which is Japanese for “child of the ocean.” To the end of his life, he often called Yoko “Mother.””
– Rolling Stone Magazine

They did 3 takes to perfect the guitar track, which was recorded onto four-track tape. The third track was the chosen one for “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album”)


Song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 13 October 1968
Genre Folk
Length 2:54
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin

The line “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you” was a slight alteration from Kahlil Gibran’s “Sand and Foam” (1926) in which the original verse reads, “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you”. Lennon also adapted the lines “When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind” from Gibran’s “When life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind”.

The nature and subject of the song is clear indicator of the direction Lennon’s songwriting was headed, and a foreshadow of his fantastic first solo album released December 11th in 1970.

The Beatles – Julia:



“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 (Paul McCartney:Many Years from now by Barry Miles)

The Beatles – Julia (Home Demo):

Lennon’s most childlike and self-revealing song, JULIA is almost too personal for public consumption. Nor did it succeed in laying his mother-fixation, as the exorcisms of ‘Mother’ and ‘My Mummy’s Dead’ on his first solo album prove. To a great extent, Julia Lennon was her son’s muse. Once he had rid his soul of grief for her, his creativity forfeited its pressure and, during his more reconciled final decade, his output lost most of the edge and forcefulness it displayed at its fundamentally unhappy zenith in the mid-Sixties
~Ian MacDonald (Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties)

The Beatles – Julia (Anthology 3 version):

This is mostly an instrumental (take 2) that was released on Anthology 3. It includes dialogue between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, McCartney was observing the recording from the studio control room. This is my favorite take of Julia, just to hear, just to hear John’s laugh after singing such an intimate song – we can sense the nervousness in his voice when asking Paul if the take was alright. We realize by this short conversation how much John looked to Paul for confirmation and assurance. Paul was the only one allowed to be in the control room while John sung his most personal song.

Julia (Lyrics):

Half of what I say is meaningless
But I say it just to reach you, Julia.

Julia, Julia, oceanchild, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering
In the sun

Julia, Julia, morning moon, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind, Julia.

Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia.

Hum hum hum hum, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia, Julia, Julia.

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– Egil & Hallgeir