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Julia

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

John Lennon dedicated this song to Yoko and his mother Julia, who was struck and killed by a car driven by an off-duty police officer on July 15, 1958, when John was 17. Lennon was raised mostly by Julia's sister Mimi, but starting to see more of his mother at the time of her death.

One of five daughters, nicknamed Judy by the family, Julia met Alf Lennon at the age of 14 while she was working as a cinema usher. Ten years later they married. Julia gave birth to John after 30 hours of labor, and Alf went AWOL when he jumped ship - neither the Navy nor Julia knew of his whereabouts. He later returned but Julia refused to reconcile. She was involved in a couple other relationships; John went to live with his aunt Mimi because Julia could not provide a sound home for the boy.

When John was in is early teens he visited Julia often, and she taught him to play the banjo. John would frequently stay over at Julia's house, and in 1958 Julia was hit and killed by the off duty police officer as she walked home from Mimi's house. John named his first son Julian after her.
Lennon recorded this by himself. He did it completely live with an acoustic guitar and occasional overdubs on the vocals. It is the only song he did completely on his own during his time with The Beatles. (thanks, Phillip - Louisville, KY)
Psychedelic singer Donovan Leitch taught Lennon the finger-picking guitar style. Donovan was with The Beatles in India at the Maharishi's camp in Rishikesh, India in February 1968. When Lennon was in Rishikesh, one of the biggest revelations he had was truly opening up (to himself) regarding the feelings he had for his mother, Julia. In leaning the finger-picking method, it did allow John to dig deeper into his emotions. To quote Donovan: "Learning a new style meant composing in a different way. In his deep meditation sessions, John had opened up feelings for his mother. He found release for these emotions in 'Julia,' the tune he had learned with the new finger style. I remember when I played 'Julia' on my guitar I was struck by how much the images in the song were like the images in my songs. They were very unLennon-like."
The first 18 notes of this song are the same (in different metres, only changing the chords) but it's unlikely that this was done deliberately. If anything was deliberate about those notes, it would be that the number 18 resolves to a 9, which Lennon did slip into some of his tunes, but in this case, it was probably just a happy accident.
In Japanese, the name Yoko means "ocean child," which Lennon included as a line in the song.
Sean Lennon sang this at the special Come Together: A Night For John Lennon's Words And Music, which was held October 2, 2001 at Madison Square Garden.
Paul Shaffer and the Late Show Orchestra would play this every time Julia Roberts was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman." (thanks, Phillip - Louisville, KY)
In The Anime series Cowboy Bebop, the main character's "girlfriend" is named Julia. The creator named her after this song - most of the episodes are named after songs. (thanks, Nahtan - Dillsburg, PA)
The Beatles
The Beatles Artistfacts
More The Beatles songs
More songs with girls' names in the title
More songs written for a girl

Comments (73):

It's correct. The first 18 notes are the same note, but the chords are changing, and yet so expressive. In many of his songs Lennon uses the same note. Therefor Ian MacDonald says in his Introduction to "Revolution in the head", that Lennon's music is "horizontal", opposed to McCartney's "vertical" music.
You can compare it with Wagner's sometimes horizontal music and Verdi's vertical music.
- Johan, Stockholm, Sweden
Such a beautifully written song. I get chills every time I listen to it. It's just really good as with any other of the Beatles' songs :)
- Aleen, Los Angeles, CA
Pure perfection. That's all I can say.
- Grayson, New Orleans, LA
Beautiful,melodic,haunting,soft,sweet,simple yet deep,these are some words that describe this song.Another word that comes to mind is soothing.Every time I hear this song it soothes my soul.This is poetry set to music. Also I'd like to add that Mandy from Canada said it really well.
- George, Belleville, NJ
Ken in Castle Rock - According to Wikipedia "Julia" was about John's mother who was struck by a car driven by an off-duty policeman and died a few days later. John was 17. Ocean child is a reference to Yoko because Yoko literally means "child of the sea" in Japanese. Google it.
- R. H., Pauls Valley, OK
julia in richland, i don't think you really have a clue as to what you're talking about. john may have written the song for his mother; but he was speaking to yoko within the lyrics. and that's not inappropriate. i think he was married to yoko when this was recorded. (: -torey
- Torey, jena, LA
I love this song, it shows that John could wright beautiful soft songs as well as those rock'n numbers. It's a great tribute to his mom and to Yoko.
- Breanna, Henderson, NV
Props to Dean in Sydney! I couldn't have said it better myself. Well, yes I can! Sappy? You mean melodic. Which - melodies are usually what stick to you over the course of time. You hear a melody and it makes you either feel a certain way or remember a particular thought or memory. You remember the melody and whereas John's songs were usually "punkish", darker, edgy... what have you - Paul's were melodic. And therefore, I personally always remember Paul's songs. It's hard to imagine now, but when I was about 14 or 15, I remember singing out the melody to Paul's "Live And Let Die", but I didn't remember the name of it or anything, because at that time FM radio had forgotten it for a good 10 years (remember, this is '86 or '87), and all I remembered was that melody. Well it was just a few months later my Dad pulls out whatever album or CD had the song on it (CD's were pretty new then) and there it all was! But it was the melody I never forgot even since I was like 3 years old. That to me is why Paul was "the best" Beatle, he had the melodies. Julia was the only song where John infused a really pretty, and thus memorable, melody into his music. He had it in him, but rarely used it with The Beatles, and that's unfortunate.
- Jesse, Madison, WI
My brother sings this song to tease me sometimes. I really love the song, but I hate how he makes a reference to Yoko. I mean, John's writing a song for his mother and he makes a reference to the woman he's having an affair with. Children, can you say "inappropriate?"
- Julia, Richland, WA
To the person on here who says that there is nothing in "Julia" from Kahil Gilbran's "Sand And Foam"...you're wrong. I have it right in front of me. I quote:

"The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.
Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.

Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.

A sense of humour is a sense of proportion."

It's in the beginning of the piece, a couple of dozen lines in.
- Pattie, Orlando, FL
I love this because Paul was the sappy love song writer and John who was more dark and edgy shows his softer side on this track.
- Dean, Sydney,
beautiful. its strange- simple and lovely, but eerie and haunting at the same time. its one of those songs that takes you someplace else. it always makes me think of a serene, sunny summer day on a remote beach somewhere. and the lyrics themselves are incredible. this and strawberry fields are some of the only songs where you can actually get some insight into john's mind and his emotions. "when i cannot sing my heart, i can only speak my mind."
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
This was dedicated to Yoko because she encouraged John to record this song, he had been singing for years. John was a private man but, with Yoko's influence, we got to see some of his deepest feelings and visions.
- Claire, Turnersville, NJ
Haunting.
- Tracy, Tulsa, OK
According to ALbert Goldman's Lennon Biography - Lennon's mom Julia taught him to play the Banjo when he was 16 or so and he transposed that to the guitar and didn't use the 5th and 6th strings on the guitar until he met Paul.
- Linc, Beaumont, TX
Yoko does not mean "ocean child" in Japanese. It actually means "positive child" in Japanese according to this link, http://www.meaning-of-names.com/japanese-names/yoko.asp

This however does not take away the fact John was still referencing Yoko.
- Ken, Castle Rock, CO
This is my all time favorite song. My dad was a HUGE Beatles fan so him and my mom named me after this song. Since he died 3 years ago it just makes my love for this song stronger.
- Julia, Abingdon, IL
My name is Julia. I wasn't named after this. I was named after my cousin, Dixie Carter on the show Designing Women.
- Julia, Small Town, TN
Actually the first line of Julia is a take on a line from the poem:

"Half of what I say is meaningless
But I say it just to reach you, Julia"
-John Lennon


"Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you."
-Kahlil Gibran
- Zach, Farfarl, CA
There is nothing in the song from Kahil Gilbran's "Sand And Foam"
- Liuzhou, Liuzhou, China
"When I cannot sing my heart I can only speak my mind, Julia"
- Al, ON, Canada
Al, Canada - I was going to post this line and when I scrolled down and saw it already posted I almost cried I love it so much, Thanks
- Susan, Westchestertonfieldville, VA
My parents are big Beatles fans like myself, and named me after this song! They said how they didn't even spend much time thinking of a name, they both loved the Beatles and the name Julia, so there ya have it. And they told me that if I was a boy, my name would have been Dylan after Bob Dylan, who is also amazing. I'm so happy that I was named after a Beatles song, 'cause they're my favorite thing in the entire world! Beautiful song.
- Julia, *, OH
i love this song. its so mellow and soothing
- Kayla, Nashville, TN
beautiful song. it's eerie but sweet.
- Rosario, Naples, FL
Such a beautiful, thought-provoking song. Simply a Lennon treasure.
- Buck, London, England, --
I love this song. I listened to it last night and i cried a little. Just the lyrics pieced with the finger-picking guitar is beautiful. I don't think that anyone has heard it without getting quite emotional.
- Allison, a little ol' town in, MI
I think it's safe to say that this song is poretty much sacred.
- Jessica, Morrison , CT
I knew a Julia who said I liked her because she was 'calm'. John Lennon is calm and transcendent on this song. Too marvellous for words. The unexpected chords, the quiet singing, the sincerity, acoustically perfect journey into the heart of mother/girlfriend/woman love.
- kenny, clydebank, Scotland
This song is so beautiful it just gives me shivers every time I hear it
- Christy, LA, CA
I feel sorry for Lennon, his mother died when he was so young.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
I LOVE THIS SONG! My name's Julia and it is just so pretty!
- Julia, Clarkston, MI
i love this song.my girlfriends name is julia.thank god. I play this and shes mine.
- Lee, Clarkston, MI
One of the most beautiful covers of this song is done by a singer/songwriter from NYC - Ari Hest.

You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCfWV1S3KgI
- Allie, Greenville, NC
My neice's name was Julia. She passed away a few years ago at the young age of 13. This song helped when trying to deal with the loss. The song is very touching and means a lot to me.
- Carl, Bayville, NJ
this is john lennon at his best and what lied beneath a stubborn and very witty man the greatest song i have ever heard i could listen to it non stop, a complete masterpiece if everyone listened to this song the world would be a place of peace just like john imagined RIP John Lennon my hero
- monkey boi, london, England
Well berry, thats because you're just a jackass
-Dante, Bremerton, WA
- dante, bremerton, WA
lol. its so funny, everyone named julia comments on this. we're so cool. i wasnt named for this song (though i wish i was), but i really love it and it was like the first song i ever knew cuz my dad would always play it on our stereo when i was really little. its just a beautiful and calm song.
- Julia, Somewhere, CA
Sit back and relax and let the world pass you by... That's Julia!
- Nathan, Bruges, Belgium
I named my daughter after this song. We were told we were having a boy when I was pregnant and didn't have a girl's named picked out. When I looked at such beauty and perfection, I was enchanted in the same manner this song enchants me, so Julia it was.
- kelly, medford, NY
Makes me think of my mom... except her name is Deena.
- Steven, West Carrollton, OH
John expressing His most inner-feelings in a beautiful beautiful song.
- Asef, Silkeborg, Denmark
What a pretty song!
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Yes, Mandy is right. We love you too Matt. I think this song is truely beautiful. John Lennon's voice makes it even more beautiful, quiet and enchanting. Aww
- Guitar, Nashville, TN
This is so lovely. John Lennons voice makes me internally happy. I'd so name my girl child after this song, 'cause its so beautiful. And people deserve pretty names with meanings...
- Ashley, Yarmouth
My parents named me for this song, but i never really heard it until recently and I think its such a beautiful song. Im proud to be named after such a wonderful piece of music.
- Julia, Crazytown, NY
It annoys me that this is dedicated to yoko too, when it really is to his mother. Why did he feel that everything had to do with yoko? His mother should get some of her own credit.
- kika, nyc, NY

The song was about Yoko. Not his mother.
- Tyler, Brantford, Canada
It's one of the prettiest songs the Beatles ever recorded. Every once in a while I'll serenade my girlfriend (whose real name is Julia) with that song.
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
"i love you guys who love the beatles"- Matt


~~~~~

We love you too. LOL.
- Mandy, Calgary, Canada
This song is so incredibly beautiful- its not even.... I cant even describe it. lol. This song is so amazing. Perfect in every single way, enchantingly beautiful... mystical... I am pretty much speechless. I heard this song and it was like magic. Amazing... amazing is like the only word to desribe it. And its about John's mom! Aww. For making me speechless- this song gets 5 out of 5 stars. The Beatles are the best band ever. Indescribable, amazing, beautiful- Julia.
- Mandy, Calgary, Canada
i love you guys who love the beatles
- matt, niagara falls, NY
This is a very quiet Beatles song from The White Album.
- Melissa, Fairborn, OH
This is a pretty sad song but I've never considered this anywhere close to being a favorite. I usually skip over it to get to something more upbeat.
- Barry, New York, NY
I always think of the song as being about his mother too.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I love this song. It is so beautiful and showed another side to John Lennon. I mean, who bases a song about his mum now a days? Even though it was about Yoko too, I always think of it as about his mum most of the time. Wonderful song. Well done, Mr. Lennon, well done. Thanks for saying hi to all the Americans Daniel! Hi to all the British!
- Carissa, La Mirada, CA
this song is perfect in every way.
- Rigo, El Centro, CA
It's actually a Dmaj7 chord, the song was recorded with a capo on the second fret (in the key of D).
- Carlos, Milpitas, CA
The last chord is a Cmaj7 chord in the second inversion position.
- David, New City, NY
This tune would have fit perfectly on the JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND album from 1970.
- Barry, New York, NC
This is one of my favorite Beatles song. This is a quiet song.
- Melissa, Fairborn, OH
John loved his mom so much even though he didn't get to live with her. So I sing my song of love, Juulia. Well done John.
- Laura, Santa Fe, NM
Well, I hope my grammar won't be that bad... :-) A few years ago I was looking to the "Beatles Anthology" tape telling about the "White album". Among the songs playing in the backgroung I heard John just singing the word "Julia" the way he does on record. I fell in love with that sound! Now I've found the song: how beautiful it is...
- Emiliano, Reggio Emilia, Italy
This song is so beautiful, it gives me dold chills. I believe John's first son, Julian, is named after his mother, Julia.
- Jude, Thomasville, GA
What a beautiful song! I't very under-rated though. It shows how great a songwriter John lennon is. Without writing those weird songs he wrote.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
How sweet!
- Laura, Santa Fe, NM
More hidden treasure from the White Album. Some funky chords in the part "Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering
In the sun"
- Nessie, Sapporo, Japan
"When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind, Julia"
- Al, ON, Canada
A hidden gem from The Beatle's back catalogue and probably my favourite song of theirs at the moment, though that will probably change soon with so many classics. Hi to all Americans by the way.
- Daniel, Leeds, England
man this song makes me cry everytime i listen to it
- Jude, Los Angeles, CA
love this song, this was my parent's favourite so they named me after it
- julia, london, England
The most beautiful song on the White Album. If there was a such a thing as fate, I'm sure it would have me marrying a woman named Julia so that this could be our song.
- Adrian, Wilmington, DE
this song is undescribable. Something always gets to me when i hear it. John Lennon was truly a genius.
- ben russell, durham, NC
A beautiful pure revelation of John Lennons emotional genious.
- Patrick, Durham, NC
(2001) Chocolate Genius sang this song for the "I Am Sam" soundtrack.
- Carolyn, P'ville, CA
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