Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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First recorded (as a demo) by John Lennon (1968).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1968).
Also recorded by Ramsey Lewis (1968), Medeski, Martin & Wood and John Scofield (2006), Mike Patton & Carla Hassett (2009), Sean Lennon (2009)

From the wiki: “‘Julia’ was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) during The Beatles’ 1968 visit to Rishikesh in northern India, where they were studying under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was there where Lennon learned the song’s finger-picking guitar style (known as ‘Travis-picking’) from Scottish musician Donovan. Lennon recorded his demo of ‘Julia’ during the very casual May 1968 new song reviews conducted by the Beatles at Esher, George Harrison’s estate, following the group’s return from India.

“The song was written for John’s mother, Julia Lennon (1914–1958), who was knocked down and killed by a car driven by a drunk off-duty police officer when John was 17 years old. Julia Lennon had encouraged her son’s interest in music and bought him his first guitar. ‘I lost her twice,’ Lennon recalled. ‘Once as a five-year-old when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again when she actually physically died.’ The song was also written for John’s future wife, Yoko Ono, whose first name literally means ‘child of the sea’ in Japanese and is echoed in the lyric ‘Oceanchild, calls me.’

“The line ‘Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you’ was a slight alteration from Kahlil Gibran’s ‘Sand and Foam’ (1926) in which the original verse reads, ‘Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you.’

“No other Beatle sings or plays on the song. While Paul McCartney made several ‘solo’ recordings attributed to the group, dating back to his famous song ‘Yesterday’, this is the only time that Lennon played and sang unaccompanied on a Beatle track.

“‘Julia’ was originally released as the final song on side two of The Beatles on 22 November 1968. Eight years later, in 1976, it was released as the B-side of the ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ single.”

The Beatles, “Julia” (1968):

Ramsey Lewis, “Julia” (1968):

Medeski, Martin & Wood and John Scofield, “Julia” (2006):

Mike Patton & Carla Hassett, “Julia” (2009):

Sean Lennon, “Julia” (2009):

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