The only Beatles song to feature just John Lennon

To much of the outside world, John Lennon was the leader of The Beatles. As one of the two main singers and songwriters in the band, along with Paul McCartney, Lennon was the most opinionated and most authoritative of all the band members. He was the one who started the band, and according to most recollections, he was the one who ended it when he left the group in late 1969.

For all of his undeniable individuality, Lennon rarely ever appeared on record with just himself. The closest he came was on solo songs like ‘My Mummy’s Dead’ and ‘Working Class Hero’, where Lennon accompanied himself with just guitar. But the stripped-back style of those songs had a predecessor in The Beatles’ canon, one with a much more positive and ethereal quality to it.

‘Julia’ was the only Beatles song that Lennon ever recorded without the aid of any of his bandmates. During the particularly fractured sessions that produced 1968’s The Beatles, better known as The White Album, different people were often working on different songs at the same time.

The worst offender was McCartney, who recorded a number of songs, including ‘Martha My Dear’ and ‘Wild Honey Pie’. McCartney was, coincidentally, also the first of The Beatles to appear solo on a band track, having performed the guitar and vocals for ‘Yesterday’ while being accompanied by a string quartet of session musicians. By contrast, the stark and simple ‘Julia’ represented Lennon’s only solo turn in The Beatles songbook.

“Julia was my mother. But it was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one,” Lennon recalled to David Sheff in 1980. “That was written in India. On the White Album. And all the stuff on the White Album was written in India while we were supposedly giving money to Maharishi, which we never did. We got our mantra, we sat in the mountains eating lousy vegetarian food and writing all those songs. We wrote tons of songs in India.”

“I lost her twice,” Lennon would add. “Once, as a five-year-old, when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again, when she actually physically died.” Although Julia Lennon had bequeathed the responsibility of raising John to her sister Mimi, John and Julia would reconnect in Lennon’s teenage years and become friendly. Julia was hit and killed by an off-duty police officer in 1958 when John was just 18.

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