100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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69. 'Julia'

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: October 13, 1968
Released: November 25, 1968
Not released as a single

Julia Lennon had encouraged her son's interest in music and bought him his first guitar. But after splitting with John's father, she started a new family with another man and left John to be raised by her sister; though she lived just a few miles from John, Julia did not spend much time with him. In 1958, when John was 17 and on better terms with her, Julia was struck and killed by a car. "I lost her twice," Lennon said. "Once as a five-year-old when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again when she actually physically died."

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."

Appears On: The Beatles

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