Julian Lennon and John LennonJulian Lennon made his musical debut at age 11 playing drums on his father’s first studio version of “Ya-Ya”. The 1974 recording would appear as the last track on John Lennon’s  ‘Walls and Bridges’ album. This short, casual version of the song features just Julian on drums, and John on piano and vocals.

May Pang later recalled that Julian was disappointed when he found out the recording would make the ‘Walls and Bridges’ album, telling his father “If I’d known, I would have played better”.

“Ya-Ya” was originally performed by Lee Dorsey in 1961 and later covered again by John in a full length version on his “Rock ‘n’ Roll” album.

Click the Play button to hear the version with Julian:

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Joe Cocker performing at WoodstockJoe Cocker performed “With a Little Help From My Friends” as the last song of his Woodstock set, August 17, 1969. Cocker’s version is slower, and in a different key and meter than the Beatles version.

His studio recording of the song, released in October 1968, eventually reached number one on the British charts. In the US, it reached number 68 on the charts. The single featured Jimmy Page on lead guitar and Steve Winwood on piano. In later years, it was used as the opening theme song of the American TV series The Wonder Years (1988-1993).

Paul McCartney carrying a young Julian LennonOriginally titled “Hey Jules”, Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in an attempt to comfort Julian Lennon, John and Cynthia’s son, during their divorce. In 1968, John and Cynthia Lennon separated due to his affair with Yoko Ono. Sometime after this, McCartney drove out to visit Julian and Cynthia. Later, Cynthia recalled, “I was truly surprised when, one afternoon, Paul arrived on his own. I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare…. On the journey down he composed ‘Hey Jude’ in the car. I will never forget Paul’s gesture of care and concern in coming to see us.”

About the original title of the song, Paul McCartney said, “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 … I had the idea [for the song] by the time I got there. I changed it to ‘Jude’ because I thought that sounded a bit better.”

It would be almost twenty years after McCartney wrote the song that Julian would discover that it had been written for him. He remembered being closer to McCartney than to his own father: “Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit—more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.”

George Harrison with Gretsch Guitar“Don’t Bother Me” was the first song written by George Harrison alone. He had received co-writing credit for two earlier Beatles songs, “In Spite of All the Danger” (Paul McCartney/George Harrison) and “Cry for a Shadow” (George Harrison/John Lennon).

George wrote “Don’t Bother Me” while he was sick in bed at a hotel room in Bournemouth, England. The Beatles were playing some shows in the town during the summer of 1963. Harrison wasn’t too fond of the song, as he had stated, “‘It was a fairly crappy song. I forgot all about it completely once it was on the album.” He would later say, in effect, that John and Paul had started honing their writing skills years before him and that they had already gone through their “bad” songs period earlier. George was essentially saying he would have to write a few “clunkers” first to catch up as a skilled songwriter.

“Don’t Bother Me” originally appeared on the albums ‘With the Beatles’ (UK, 1963), and ‘Meet the Beatles!’ (U.S., 1964). The song also plays during a scene in ‘A Hard’s Day’s Night’, where The Beatles dance at a nightclub.