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Today saw the recording of the 32nd and final song intended for the White Album. (The final product included only 30, with “Not Guilty” and “What’s the New Mary Jane” failing to make the cut.) The song in question was one of John’s, and was recorded by him alone with no assistance from any other Beatle — the only example of that in The Beatles’ oeuvre, I’m told. It was called “Julia,” which was also the name of John’s mother.

Lennon had a famously complicated relationship with his mother, who handed him over to his Aunt Mimi when he was very young. They were in and out of touch after that, and generally more like friends than mother and son; Julia was an important musical influence, playing John Elvis records and teaching him to play banjo. In the late 1950s, John began to see his mother more, and she often let him and the Quarrymen rehearse at her house. But she was hit by a car and killed in July 1958, leaving John with a deep-seated sense of loss and rage that would trouble him for the rest of life.

John’s attempts to exorcise his feelings through primal scream therapy are documented in the 1970 song “Mother”; “Julia” is a much more conventional tribute, with a gentle melody and poetic lyrics. He recorded only three takes; take 2 appears on Anthology 3:

Take 3 was the keeper; John double-tracked the vocal and added a bit of additional guitar, and that was that:

There is more to “Julia,” though, than meets the eye. Because this was John Lennon in 1968, there is of course a reference to Yoko, whose name means “child of the ocean” in Japanese. You don’t have to be a strict Freudian to recognize that in Yoko, John had finally found the mother figure he’d been searching for since Julia’s demise. The lyrics also quote Kahlil Gibran, who in 1926’s Sand and Foam wrote, “Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so the other half may reach you.”

After being recorded “Julia” was promptly mixed in mono and stereo. Also mixed at this session, which lasted from 7:00 Sunday night until 6:00 Monday morning, were “Blackbird” (mono and stereo), “Wild Honey Pie” (stereo), “Back in the U.S.S.R.” (stereo), and “Dear Prudence” (mono and stereo).

After this only three sessions remain until the completion of the album — though that last one is a doozy. Get some rest now while you can.

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