Julian Lennon the Secret Value of Daydreaming

The US Interview

by Elizabeth Kaye
US Magazine June 2, 1986


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It is the middle of a hectic week, in the middle of a frenetic month, and Julian Lennon is beginning to feel exhausted. Two weeks ago, his new single, "Stick Around," was released, followed by the release of The Secret Value of Daydreaming, his second album. One week ago, he was in Los Angeles to tape two videos, appear on American Bandstand and be the guest host of Solid Gold. This week, in New York, he has given twenty to thirty interviews a day, and appeared on Today and Late Night with David Letterman. Now, feigning collapse, he slumps in a heap on a couch; a moment later, he sits straight up, hands folded neatly in his lap, his face bright with mock expectancy, as he imitates an eager schoolboy.

Julian Lennon has become a familiar figure. Little more than a year ago, his presence was startling. He seemed the emissary of a lost hero - his father, John - and also seemed to embody the opposing truths that life goes on and the past never dies. In this year, by allowing the public to know him better, Julian has naturally ceased to be simply his father's near-clone. And though, at the age of twenty-three, he seems to want to present himself merely as a simple lad, he is far more complex than he may care to admit to the public, or even, perhaps, to himself.

"In public," he says, "I may act like Lionel Richie, but what I feel will probably be like Bruce Springsteen."

How do you think people perceive you?

Some people think I'm a nice kid who puts out good stuff. Others think I'm still the rich, snooty kid who lives off the name.

And how do you perceive yourself lately?

I probably still have a lot of aggression in me, being a really nasty bastard [laughs]. But that's why I want to become a caring person and change that. I know the aggression will still be there, but I'm teaching myself to be calm and strong-willed, to hold it back. Now, if I want to get some aggression out, I'll be careful where I do it.

What about in your music?

Maybe later. Not yet.

But you need some place to get that aggression out. Where do you do that?

Well, I do that at the piano, before I write the songs. I'll have an idea of a song, and I'll get the aggression out while I'm doing it. I'll change it into a reasonable song.

By "reasonable," you mean a softer song?


It seems like you're in a double bind with your music, in that people say, "This isn't right; he shouldn't write these soft songs. His father wrote really angry songs." Yet if you do write angry songs, you'll be compared to him even more. You're sort of stuck.

Yeah, yeah, I feel that. But the only thing I can do about that is be myself and let people see what I'm like, you know? I don't want to appear to be a rebellious character. I used to try to act tough all the time, but now I think it's crap.

And I'm concerned about my audience. I want to appeal to everybody, and probably the people I don't appeal to are punks and rebels, because they think I'm too much of a sissy. But I have no reason or need to be a rebel. I'll be nice until the end, unless things go too far. Then, obviously, I'll hit back. But I try to turn the other cheek always.

You seem to have a real desire to belong to something. When you were younger, did you feel very lonely?

Yeah, I felt on my own a lot.

But you were close with your mother.

Yeah. But still, for friends out in the world...it was awkward.

Because of your dad?

I just didn't feel comfortable.

What made you uncomfortable?

I don't know, just what people thought of me. That I had to do something or be something, you know? And you couldn't depend on anybody. You couldn't know who'd be friend or foe.

Figuring that out has to be upsetting when you're growing up.

That's why I've only just been able to deal with myself. Like when I went to the premiere [of John and Yoko: A Love Story] with Yoko, I felt like the big guy in the family. She'd be holding on to my hand, because she was obviously unsure. And I kept saying to her, "Are you all right? Are you okay?" So in every situation where I'm with people and we're doing something, then I will say, well, is everybody all right? You're sure you're all right? People get tired of me saying that after a while, but it's just because I'm concerned.

What's made the change? Is it that your first album ['Valotte'] and tour gave you an identity of your own?

Yeah, especially the tour. Because I had to get up there and do it, and knowing that I could do it made me more confident and a stronger person.

Didn't it also mean that people who used to come over to you and say, "I really like your father's music" were now saying, "I really like your music"?

It is nice. Though when I really feel weird is when I hear people saying, "I like your music, I like your dad's, but I like your singing better." I don't know how to take that yet.

Who are the people you'd be most apt to talk to? Who are your friends?

Mainly the band. And they'll pop over and bring a friend or two, and we'll just sit around and talk - that's the most enjoyable thing.

What about women?

What about women?

Do you have a girlfriend right now?

No. I was seeing someone [rock singer Fiona] but it's temporarily put aside. We both agreed on this. Because I'm not going to see her till the end of this year. It's really stupid to try to have an ongoing solid relationship when you're not going to be together for almost half a year or more.

Are you pursued by groupies a lot?

Not lately, no. It's been very quiet lately. I should get on the road real soon [laughs].

Do you look forward to the stuff that accompanies the music on the road?

I don't care for it much. I enjoy the fans and that they like the music and all that, but I still am a very one-woman man. I can't deal with floating relationships. So if I'm approached, I just say, "Sorry." I'll pretty much be a lonely person on the road, except for the friendship of the band.

Do you want to be in a relationship?

I want it when I haven't got one, and then when I have, I sort of say, well, there goes my freedom. If it works out really well, and it's a solid relationship, then no other women bother me. I may glance, but I'll be happy.

What do you like in a woman?

Generally a nut case [laughs]. No, no, no, but...I just like people who are a bit off the wall. I can't handle the basic straight person.

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