Julia (1:56)

Cover of The Beatles (The White Album)

From The Beatles (The White Album) and 40 other releases

“Julia” is a song by The Beatles. It is the final song on side two (and disc one, in the CD era) of the band’s 1968 album, The Beatles (The White Album). It was written by John Lennon, and features Lennon on vocals and acoustic guitar. It was written during the Beatles’ 1968 visit to India, where they were studying under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was here Lennon learned the song’s finger-picking guitar style (known as ‘Travis-picking’) from the Scottish musician Donovan. No other Beatle sings or plays on the recording. While Paul McCartney made several “solo” compositions attributed to the group, dating back to his famous song “Yesterday”, this is the only time that Lennon played and sang unaccompanied on a Beatles track.

“Julia” was written for John’s mother Julia Lennon (1914-1958), who was knocked down and killed by a car driven by an off-duty police officer when John was still only 17 years old. It was also written for his future wife Yoko Ono, whose first name, which literally means “child of the sea” in Japanese, is echoed in lyrics such as “Oceanchild, calls me.” An alternative theory suggests that the song was written for Julian Lennon, John’s son.

The first two lines of the song – “Half of what I say is meaningless/ But I say it just to reach you, Julia” – were adapted from the poem “Sand and Foam,” by the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. The original line is: “Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.

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