If you've ever heard songs like “Hey Jude,” “Imagine,” or “Yellow Submarine,” you've been fortunate enough to listen to one of the most iconic bands of the 1960s. The Beatles, comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, put Liverpool, England, on the map by becoming a musical phenomenon that turned rock music on its ear and has, since its beginning, influenced countless people.
Imperfections and Impacts
Whether or not you agree that music imitates life, there's no doubt that we humans are greatly affected and influenced by music, no matter the genre. The Beatles, to this day, are an intangible force that still impacts people generations after their last album release.
One of those people most impacted by their world-renowned success is Julian Charles John Lennon. As the oldest son of John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, Julian was the inspiration behind three of the Beatles songs, two of which became hits for the quartet.
“Hey Jude,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “Good Night” were all inspired by Julian Lennon, but it's “Hey Jude” that the musician and photographer considers a double-edged sword.
“I'm thankful for the song without question, but the other real thing is that people don't really understand that that's a stark and dark reminder of actually what happened. The fact that Dad walked out— left Mom and I. That was a point of complete change and complete disruption and complete darkness and sadness. I mean, I was only 3, but I recognized that something was up, you know?”
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was also inspired by Julian after he drew a picture of his classmate, Lucy Vodden, calling it “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” He said this about the interaction that created the hit song. “I don't know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show Dad everything I'd built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea.”
Darkness and Sadness
Paul McCartney wrote the song for Julian because he knew that watching his parents' marriage implode would not be easy for the then-toddler. ”I started with the idea “Hey Jules,” which was Julian, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing. I knew it was not going to be easy for him. I always feel sorry for kids in divorces.”
McCartney spoke about the creation of “Hey Jude” in a 1997 biography titled Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles.
The sadness would unfortunately last in young Julian's life. In 1980, at 17, his father, John, was shot and killed outside the Dakota in New York after returning from a recording session.
Imagine Better Times
In 2021, Lennon performed “Imagine” in honor of his father, John, for Ukrainian refugees, saying, “Today, for the first time, I publicly performed my Dad's song, ‘Imagine'. The song reflects the light at the end of the tunnel that we are all hoping for.”
As one of the most famous Beatles songs, the lyrics are appropriate given the world's circumstances.
At the end of the day, John Lennon hoped people would live in peace with one another.
Source: (Rolling Stone), (The Messenger), (The New York Post).