The Ballad of Julian Lennon

by Lou O'Neill Jr.
Rock Bill December 1984

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Rock Bill

There sat Julian Lennon, son of the former Beatle, in a plush easy chair at New York's Parker-Meridien. The resemblance to his father is unbelievable; in fact, it's almost eerie. "I heard about you," Julian teased, as he lit up a Camel. "You're the chap who bought me Dad's car." For a young man who turned 21 last April, Julian Lennon possesses a sophistication and maturity far beyond his years. His stunning new album, Valotte, is about as impressive a record as any newcomer could make. Let's not even talk about John Lennon's kid. As room service brought us a cold soda, we toasted the future and turned on the tape recorder.

Julian, I'd like you to fill us in on the last few years ... What have you been up to? 

(Laughing) Not much. No, I've just been sitting around playing the piano and thinking a lot. Nothing really special in that. just being comfortable at home relaxing, writing slowly at my own pace. 

Let's talk about the genesis of Valotte. 

I had a lot of the material before we went to Valotte (a chateau in France where most of his album was written) so it was just a question of finishing it and putting it together It's what I had hoped for; certainly what I had been aiming for. You see, all of the songs on Valotte are from experience or feelings or relationships. That's what most of them are about. So don't look for any hidden meaning in them. Most of the songs are relationship-wise. There's not too much to took into there. But, the songs are about real life situations. "Space" was just an off the wall thing. I really like "Too Late For Goodbyes," too. Hopefully, that will be the second single (laughing), you know, we'll send "Valotte" over to England and see what happens.

Julian Lennon

Does It ever bother you that for millions of people, your life is like an open book?

I don't think about it too much. It doesn't trouble me, If they want to keep interested, that's great. I mean, I'll wave if someone recognizes me. I find a lot of people stopping me and wishing me luck which is great. I always say, "Thanks Va-lotte."

When did you decide you wanted to create music?

It was a flowing thing. Not some thing I sat down and thought about. It basically just happened. First, I got into the music and started writing. It was just a natural thing. I didn't say, well 'I want to be a music star' or anything like that. It just flowed. 

Yesterday, you spent more than two hours with Paul McCartney and it was the first time you've seen him in 10 years. How was It? (Referring to Julian Lennon and Paul McCartney on Friday Night Videos)

It was great, really great. We went over some old times. You know, I used to draw with Paul when I was a kid. Last time I saw him was in 1974 when I was wrestling on the floor with Dad at the Dakota.

Julian Lennon

When did you first realize the fame of The Beatles? 

I guess I was about 10 or 11. You know, coming up to the age I realized I had a famous dad. But, it didn't make much difference at the time. When people used to tell me I looked like my father I'd say, 'It runs in the family.'

How are things with you and Yoko? Have you seen her lately? 

No, not lately, I've been too busy and so has she. But, we're doing pretty well. I've got something to do at the moment and you wouldn't believe the effort it takes to do it. Once I've got myself settled down and established well then, I can start living at my own pace. I'd like to go over soon and say hello. 

What do you think of Scan? 

He's great. Whenever I see him, we have a lot of fun. He's loony. It runs in the family, again. 

What's a good time for Julian Lennon when you want to relax? 

Fun for me is a piano. If there was a piano right here, I'd be playing all day. That's fun for me. I just amuse myself, all the time. But, apart from that, I just walk around, go to a cou- ple of pubs every now and then or go see friends. You name it. 

Tell us about some of the memories you have of your Dad? 

Just being silly, basically. Rolling around the floor, wrestling or sitting down and messing about with instruments. Just happy times like that. The sad thing is that we were getting into a new relationship just before he died, You know, just before the incident. We had started seeing each other every six months. I was going to see him the week after. We spoke on the phone and Dad played Double Fantasy off the radio through the telephone to me in England. it was 'Great, can't wait to see you.' It was only two weeks away and the next week, he was killed. It was hard times. 
(Soon after John's death, there were several reports in the papers of Julian carrying on, getting drunk, getting wasted, doing the stupid, silly things that make for juicy copy. But you don't have to be 17 with your father just murdered to want to thrash about - the world is crazy enough as it is. Julian seems to have sowed his wild oats, however and now has gotten down to The Work.) 

How do you maintain your remarkable poise and coolness?

In a way, it's like being a horse in a race. You know, the one with the blinkers on the side of the eyes. Well, you just look straight ahead and aim for what you're going for. You try not to be diverted in any way. So, I just take that path and go for it. 

Any last thoughts you might want to share with our readers? 

All I can say is have a good time listening to my music and don't read anything too much into Valotte. It's just about basic stuff like feelings and relationships which we all go through in life. So, just enjoy it for what it's worth.

Valotte Bar

Valotte Bar