boy with the fascinating, well-documented, stranger-than-fiction life
story is based in New York now. He's over here for a few days' "work".
"Planning never works cos everything changes. Except for Virgin promo
I find him friendly, unpretentious, knackered, and disarmingly honest.
His new record bay be the most witless, willowy, wearisome and wallyish
contrivance I've heard in years but he is the definitive nice guy, not
unaffected by his unorthodox background but mercifully free of affectation.
Affectation's great if you're a genius. Julian is not a genius.
We are instructed to watch the video for Julian's new single 'Stick
Around', along with a man from Cosmopolitan, a magazine for women
who need to be told why they shouldn't listen to what they are told.
In this video a series of leggy moderne girls in tight, shiny skirts
fall in and out of clinches with young Jules on the plush sofa of a
decorative NY apartment. Enin, the man from Cosmo says,
"Great, Julian. Really great", and leaves. (Memo: buy dagger.)
Julian looks at me wryly while the half of my brain which I still allow
to do whatever it wants whenever it wants starts singing: We all live
in a yellow submarine. A yellow submarine. A yellow submarine.
The other half says: We do not. And even if we do, pretend we don't
for a while.
Er... Julian is still looking at me wryly.
When I first heard about Marc Bolan's death my dad made me a cup of
tea. When I first heard about John Lennon's death my record shop boss
said, "S---. We'd better order loads of copies of 'Imagine'."
You live and learn.
When Julian Lennon heard about John Lennon's death, he had just awoken
to see that the chimney of his Welsh house had fallen through the roof
into his bedroom. Then he saw the reporters waiting on the lawn.
Julian is getting quite good at looking at people wryly.
Your relationship with women always seem to intrigue the media.
You're not bloody kidding! The press ruined my last
relationship. Now I'm... faithful. Pretty faithful. Very faithful.
But when I was in America there was this girl, a rock singer - great-lookin',
a really nice person. We'd hand out together in our spare time, and
work together. Anyway I come back to England and the old lady says
to me, What's goin' on with this girl? Come on, what's goin' on?
I said, Debbie, we're good friends. Can't you
accept that I can just have a friendship with another girl? It doesn't
have to be sexual. She says, Well, are you going to bed with her?
I say, No, she's a friend of mine. That may happen later...
Ha, ha, ha, no I didn't say that. I said, There's no
plans for that. I'm with you.
So she said we should let nature take its course. I
thought that was all right; that was non-committal.
Next thing I hear some London newspaper's gone out
and done an article: Julian Dumps Debbie For Rock Star Beauty.
Or something. And without Debbie even calling me back to ask if it
was true, she went straight to the paper, got a couple of notes in
her pocket, and revealed all. After that I... y'know... lost faith.
The next thing I get is a letter from her lawyer saying. You made
her give up her modeling career, you did this, you did that, therefore
she is entitled to this.
I said, You must be crazy. She did everything of her
own free will.
Everything blew out of proportion. I haven't spoken
to her since, and it's been very silly.
So I think if you start talking about relationships
to the press - not being nasty, but everything gets distorted. It's
not worth the trouble.
You have been described as "too shy to be a skirt-chaser, too
famous to have to be..."
Ha! That sounds good actually.
Is it weird not knowing whether people are being genuine or just
sucking up to your because of your celebrity?
I've learned to deal with that. I'm very perceptive
these days. I try my best, as anyone would, to suss out whether somebody's
trying to rip me off. Anybody can be given a backhander and do it
anytime. But as least you can try and have some sort of judgment.
Have the family relationships all calmed down?
Yeah, pretty much so.
No trouble with Yoko?
I don't think there's anything I've said lately that
the press could pick up on. Everything's fine. See, after the death
and the whole thing, now I'm trying to get on with my own life, and
so's Yoko, whatever she does, and good luck to her. We're back being
normal people. We're not sittin' thinkin', God, what happened? We're
allowed to relax. I pop over for a cup of tea and to see Sean if I'm
No! There's nothing. Nothing exciting going
on around my life at the moment. Except hopefully the album.
Back at the music business, Julian is still looking at me wryly, waiting
for a comment on the video. I say, The flat was nice. We decide we like
each other and light cigarettes.
In 80 minutes I emit 63 questions(!), nine statements, and one request
for orange juice. After the first six questions and one statement concerning
his new album, Julian Lennon runs his hand through his hear and says:
Er.. yeah... I dunno. I give up. I just try and enjoy
myself. If people like it they like it, if they don't - well I'm sorry.
Maybe next time.
He is well-built, and has sharp eyes. He lacks his father's talent
for epigrams, but he is not thick. Equally, he is not shrewdly soulless
like the business which harnesses him. Given the history, the context,
the product, and the absence of Liza Minnelli's spitfire flair, I'm
pleasantly surprised to find myself sitting with a real live human being.
A token discussion about the crap music.
So what's changed since you 'broke' in terms of image/music/aims?
In the first place, I got this sort of 'cute', very
nice, relaxed, boring, image... it was good to be boring then
because it meant I could do whatever I wanted later, rather than just
being a hippy or a punk or anything in particular. It was easy and
plain. And I still don't want an image, there's nothing to it.
And this second album is funkier, rockier, more exciting...
I'd say it is more contemporary than the first, but it's bland modern
pop like Nik Kershaw or Howard Jones or one of those people...
At least one or tow of the sounds are a bit
more up-to-date. I like messing around with sounds, all the electric
stuff. But I'm keeping it calm at the moment. I like to be inventive
but the album's straightforward. That's important. Maybe next time
I'll do The Odd Album, The Bits Album, with all the junk and weird
stuff. It wouldn't really be an album at all. I do write some very
There's no evidence of that on 'Daydreaming'. Didn't you toy with
the idea of surprising people?
Oh there are a couple of interesting bits. But... I
still wanted to keep in favour with most of the fans, in America at
least. I still wanted the parents to like me, I still wanted all age
groups. But for all you weirdos, I need to be this weird stuff,
just to get away from the regular. I will do one day.
Does you music appeal mainly to old Beatles fans? 40-year-olds?
Well it was, it was, yeah, but I think maybe with this
album I might get a few young 'uns for a change. We'll see what happens.
You mean, like, teeny girls?
Er... yeah, I'm trying to keep them happy too. I dunno...
And this is where Julian, as previously described, shows a wisdom beyond
his years and gives up pretending to care. I respect him for it because
it's something a Truly Modern Pop Star, or British TV programme planners,
or Julie Burchill, or 90 per cent of social-beings scum rock hacks,
would never dare to do.
I'm saying the same things over and over again, there's
something wrong here.
The record, actually.
I think it is good. I do like it.
Oh sweet child don't make life so easy. Let's talk about something
Are you very interested in art?
Um.. well if I see something that takes my fancy I'll
ask about it. There's things I like. All the surrealist stuff. Like
Dali. I just like them. They amuse me. It's like - where are the stairs
going? It's one of those jobs.
Correction: Julian is a genius.
Pop music in the '60s was an influential wave which changed people's
attitudes. Your father was a major protagonist. Do you think it retains
any of that impact and power today?
It has a little bit. There was the whole Live Aid thing.
But faith goes uphill and downhill, people's ideas of what's really
going on change. I think you can still do things with good music and
how people listen to it, but it depends what you're gonna talk about
and how. If you're playing a certain type of music that's not going
to reach everybody, you may get some sort of cult following, but if
you want to involve the world, to change it, then you have
to fit into a slot which everybody is bound to.. recieve...
Pop used to gather youth, channel its energies. I don't know
whether I believe it can do that anymore, Julian.
Ah, I guess it could do if somebody really wanted it
to, wanted to really challenge something. There are songs about nuclear
war... but nothin' that's grabbing anybody by the balls.
No revolution y'know? Ha ha ha!
I must confess here I went, Ha ha ha! too.
In the '60s it was a whole big new thing. Everything
was! Everything was new! There's nothing new around today.
Music has reached a stage now where it's not really turning in any
direction, it's a bit of this an' a bit of that... have you seen a
I fall back limply, unconvincingly, on the old Jesus and Mary Chain
stock reply. Julian hasn't heard of them. Of the "new British bands"
he's heard over the last 48 hours he likes Simply Red and It Bites.
Unfortunately, I have heard of these. We both tumble off the
end of the paragraph with the dignity and élan of farting locusts.
What's a typical day in the life of Julian Lennon?
Yeah, yeah... have breakfast, sit around, watch TV,
play piano, phone and see who's doing what where, maybe go to a caff
or see a film, sit in the garden, mess around with people and go places
and do off-the-wall things. But the last time I went to a museum I
was followed round by 10-year-olds, askin' for my autograph while
I'm trying to look at dinosaurs. That wasn't much fun.
An' maybe a club at night, downtown, see a couple of
bands, just hang out with the musos and have a couple of drinks. Then
fall home about two or three. Have a bunch of friends back. Maybe
five. I don't know where I get that number from.
Perhaps that's how many it was last night?
Oh no, no. I haven't been allowed out to play for a
long time. Then just sit round drinkin' and listening to music until...
Until you can't.
Until I can't, right. There you go. A day in the life
of Julian Lennon.