John Lennon dedicated this song to Yoko and to 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.
Suggestion credit: Phillip - Louisville, KY
Psychedelic singer Donovan Leitch taught Lennon the fingerpicking guitar style he used on this track. 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."
Donovan was a great conduit for capturing the wonder and innocence of childhood, as he had released an album of children's songs shortly before the trip to India. In his Songfacts interview, he added: "He [Lennon] was trying to write a song about a childhood he never had, and that was very touching to me. He said, 'You are the guy who writes the children's songs. Can you try and help me with this one?' So I may have added a line there."
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."
Suggestion credit: 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.
Suggestion credit: Nahtan - Dillsburg, PA
Yoko Ono told Mojo magazine in a 2018 interview that this is her favorite White Album track. She explained: "It's about John's mother and the fact that he wrote about her is a very sweet thing."
Jota from Tokyo, JapanJohn is sleeping on the beach, trying to reach Julia in a dream. He hears her calling his name to wake him up. He opens his eyes and sees her hair. He asks her to touch him instead of just calling him. But she only calls him, and he never reaches her...
This is just my interpretation of this beautiful song, which is peaceful but leaves me sad and lonely. I guess the positive side of the song is expressed in “You Are Here” from the album “Mind Games,” and the sad side “Mother.”
Jota from Tokyo, JapanTo clarify Ken's earlier point about the meaning of Yoko, it actually depends on how it's written in Japanese (or Chinese characters). It could mean "ocean child," "sun child," or "leaf child", to name a few among many. In the case of Yoko Ono, it actually means "ocean child."
Tiffany Cheng from Surabaya, IndonesiaBeautiful song written by John for a tribute to his deceased mother, very mellow without being overly sappy.
Johan from Stockholm, SwedenIt'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.
Aleen from Los Angeles, CaSuch 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 :)
Grayson from New Orleans, LaPure perfection. That's all I can say.
George from Belleville, NjBeautiful,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.
R. H. from Pauls Valley, OkKen 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.
Torey from Jena, Lajulia 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
Breanna from Henderson, NvI 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.
Jesse from Madison, WiProps 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.
Julia from Richland, WaMy 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?"
Pattie from Orlando, FlTo 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.
Dean from Sydney,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.
Chloe from St. Louis, Mobeautiful. 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."
Claire from Turnersville, NjThis 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.
Tracy from Tulsa, OkHaunting.
Linc from Beaumont, TxAccording 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.
Ken from Castle Rock, CoYoko 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.
Julia from Abingdon, IlThis 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 from Small Town, TnMy name is Julia. I wasn't named after this. I was named after my cousin, Dixie Carter on the show Designing Women.
Zach from Farfarl, CaActually 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
Liuzhou from Liuzhou, ChinaThere is nothing in the song from Kahil Gilbran's "Sand And Foam"
Susan from Westchestertonfieldville, Va"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
Julia from *, OhMy 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.
Kayla from Nashville, Tni love this song. its so mellow and soothing
Rosario from Naples, Flbeautiful song. it's eerie but sweet.
Buck from London, England, --Such a beautiful, thought-provoking song. Simply a Lennon treasure.
Allison from A Little Ol' Town In, MiI 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.
Jessica from Morrison , CtI think it's safe to say that this song is poretty much sacred.
Kenny from Clydebank, ScotlandI 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.
Christy from La, CaThis song is so beautiful it just gives me shivers every time I hear it
Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiI feel sorry for Lennon, his mother died when he was so young.
Julia from Clarkston, MiI LOVE THIS SONG! My name's Julia and it is just so pretty!
Lee from Clarkston, Mii love this song.my girlfriends name is julia.thank god. I play this and shes mine.
Allie from Greenville, NcOne 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
Carl from Bayville, NjMy 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.
Monkey Boi from London, Englandthis 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
Dante from Bremerton, WaWell berry, thats because you're just a jackass -Dante, Bremerton, WA
Julia from Somewhere, Calol. 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.
Nathan from Bruges, BelgiumSit back and relax and let the world pass you by... That's Julia!
Kelly from Medford, NyI 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.
Steven from West Carrollton, OhMakes me think of my mom... except her name is Deena.
Asef from Silkeborg, DenmarkJohn expressing His most inner-feelings in a beautiful beautiful song.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWhat a pretty song!
Guitar from Nashville, TnYes, 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
Ashley from YarmouthThis 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...
Julia from Crazytown, NyMy 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.
Tyler from Brantford, CanadaIt 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.
Howard from St. Louis Park, MnIt'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.
Mandy from Calgary, Canada"i love you guys who love the beatles"- Matt
We love you too. LOL.
Mandy from Calgary, CanadaThis 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.
Matt from Niagara Falls, Nyi love you guys who love the beatles
Melissa from Fairborn, OhThis is a very quiet Beatles song from The White Album.
Barry from New York, NyThis 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.
Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI always think of the song as being about his mother too.
Carissa from La Mirada, CaI 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!
Rigo from El Centro, Cathis song is perfect in every way.
Carlos from Milpitas, CaIt's actually a Dmaj7 chord, the song was recorded with a capo on the second fret (in the key of D).
David from New City, NyThe last chord is a Cmaj7 chord in the second inversion position.
Barry from New York, NcThis tune would have fit perfectly on the JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND album from 1970.
Melissa from Fairborn, OhThis is one of my favorite Beatles song. This is a quiet song.
Laura from Santa Fe, NmJohn 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.
Emiliano from Reggio Emilia, ItalyWell, 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...
Jude from Thomasville, GaThis song is so beautiful, it gives me dold chills. I believe John's first son, Julian, is named after his mother, Julia.
Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScWhat 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.
Laura from Santa Fe, NmHow sweet!
Nessie from Sapporo, JapanMore hidden treasure from the White Album. Some funky chords in the part "Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering In the sun"
Al from On, Canada"When I cannot sing my heart I can only speak my mind, Julia"
Daniel from Leeds, EnglandA 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.
Jude from Los Angeles, Caman this song makes me cry everytime i listen to it
Julia from London, Englandlove this song, this was my parent's favourite so they named me after it
Adrian from Wilmington, DeThe 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.
Ben Russell from Durham, Ncthis song is undescribable. Something always gets to me when i hear it. John Lennon was truly a genius.
Patrick from Durham, NcA beautiful pure revelation of John Lennons emotional genious.
Carolyn from P'ville, Ca(2001) Chocolate Genius sang this song for the "I Am Sam" soundtrack.