With two new songs just out and a full album, JUDE, coming later this year, Julian Lennon promises that his widely lauded performance of his father’s “Imagine” during Global Citizen’s Stand Up for Ukraine! Social Media Rally on April 8th is not a harbinger of things to come in that direction.
“I don’t have a hankering for anything else. I really don’t,” Lennon tells Consequence by Zoom from Los Angeles. “I have a hankering to get on with my own life and my own work.” He adds that the “Imagine” performance — which took place on a candle-lit set, accompanied only by Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Rihanna) on acoustic guitar — “was ‘done. Now that’s over with.’ I’ve had a few requests to sing it live, and I’m going, ‘No, I’ve done my bit. That’s it. Onward with my work and my life now.”
But Lennon does acknowledge that doing “Imagine” was “the biggie.” Though he denies reports that claimed he’d vowed to never do the song, he has nevertheless tread cautiously on the legacy of being John Lennon’s son, since the younger Lennon began his own music career with the platinum Valotte album in 1984.
“I was fearful of doing ‘Imagine’… very fearful,” he acknowledges. “I felt the day was going to come, but I had great anxiety about it. It had to be the right occasion, something that was beyond meaningful. Once I said yes, I thought, ‘OK, now I’ve said yes. How am I gonna do it in a way that makes it honest and truthful and raw and meaningful and not a copy, but my own version.
“And immediately I just thought, ‘acoustic guitar, raw, no production, honest, simple, heartfelt and as emotional as can be. No distraction, just the lyric and the song, in your face.'”
He continues, “The only thing I can say about it was it was the easiest thing to do, and it was the hardest thing to do. I didn’t know how it was going to be received, but I’m actually overwhelmed at the response.”
Lennon did have the support and encouragement of his half-brother Sean Ono Lennon, who turned down an offer to be part of the segment, and Lennon has been “bombarded with so many texts and emails and nothing but love, I have to say.” He does note, however, that, “it’s very weird when people say, ‘I actually like this version better.’ I’m doing, ‘Don’t say that!’ As long as it does the job that it’s supposed to and keeps on doing it, that’s all I want.” He does plan to release the rendition commercially “in a very short while” to raise more money for Ukrainian and other refugee relief.