Julian Lennon has a lot he wants to hear from Paul McCartney about his legendary father, John. If only he and the Beatles’ bassist could find the time to chat.
Lennon’s first son was only 17 when his father died in 1980. Julian says he has good memories of his father, but he wants more, something he says McCartney, 81, has promised.
Lennon, speaking with Bill Maher in a sit-down for the comedian’s podcast, “Club Random,” said he’s only really been in a similar situation with McCartney once, when they ran into each other in a London airport last year.
“He was in Heathrow Airport sitting on his own just chatting away with earpods in, some conversation,” Lennon told Maher of a meeting Lennon memorialized on social media (see the post below). “And a friend of a friend said, ‘Your Uncle Paul’s outside,’ and I said, ‘What?’ So I sneak outside and come up behind him and say, ‘Hey, Paul.’ He almost had a heart attack, of course. And we sat there chatting away for a little bit.”
Maher pointed out that Lennon and McCartney share a long history.
“It’s weird,” Lennon said. “… We’re close but we’re not that close.
“We know a great deal about each other but we’ve never even done this,” Lennon added, extending his hands in a pointing gesture to his and Maher’s sit-down setup. “I mean, apart from that moment in Heathrow. And we keep saying, and he keeps telling me, that we’re going to try and push for this, this year, sooner than later anyway. He keeps telling me I’ve got so many stories about your dad that I’ve never told anybody that I want you to hear about. And you know, he gave me some samples I thought I’d never heard before. But we just got to find the time to lock in to do that.”
Maher responded he and McCartney should “do it like yesterday.”
“I think also for him,” Maher said. “Because for him, I mean just talking to you now. … It’s the best of your father without any artifice from you — you’re not like trying. So for him, I think that would be such a delightful thing, the closest thing he’ll ever have to talking to his old friend. And you turned out well. It’s not like you turned out a ne’er-do-well.”
Maher and Lennon broached the topic of the “Too Late for Goodbyes” singer’s relationship with McCartney as they discussed the 2021 Peter Jackson-directed documentary, “The Beatles: Get Back.” Maher said he liked Julian’s hit song more than “Don’t Let Me Down,” the recording of which is prominently featured in the film, as he similarly likes some of Jakob Dylan’s songs with the Wallflowers better than those of his father, Bob Dylan.
“I don’t think you can dismiss, you know, the sons or daughters of artists, especially if they picked up on a few things,” Lennon said. “It’s been a long life, and I’ve worked hard at what I do, to write, to be a good songsmith, maybe not as commercial as some. But I stuck to my guns on that, so to speak.”
Maher said it was readily apparent Lennon and McCartney remained in good spirits with each other at the time the documentary was made — “very much in love,” as the host put it.
“It’s January 1969. Now, I don’t know what happened before, I don’t know what happened after, but I feel like I know where your father was in that month,” Maher said. “Because there’s a lot of footage.”
Maher noted that Lennon’s second wife, Yoko Ono, who is often cited as the reason for the Beatles’ breakup, does not have Lennon’s focus in the film, even comparing her to “a potted plant.”
“It reminded me of him when I saw him as a kid,” Lennon said of his father. “It was a fond recollection because it was him being himself and being mad and bonkers, smart and funny and creative. It just reminded me of the good things about him, because I had lost a lot of that over the years, one way or anther.”
Maher said he observed how Lennon and McCartney were in a zone that also didn’t include the other band members, in George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
“It was their world completely,” Lennon affirmed.
Lennon, 60, said he struggled over whether to attend a special screening of the documentary, which he ended up going to with his younger brother, Sean.
Lennon said it was the nagging questions he would inevitably face instead of the variations on how people would perceive him — present or absent — that bothered him.
“I try not to worry about that stuff anymore,” said Lennon, who added he was “beyond surprised” by the doc — in the best sense — and that the director, Jackson, had put his brother and him at ease and “took the edge off any stress that was there and allowed Sean and I and everybody else who was there to relax in that circumstance.”
A conversation about how Julian approached living in the shadow of his father followed pleasantries between Lennon and Maher at the show’s outset. Maher recalled the June 1985 cover of Rolling Stone that featured Julian with a caption “Here Comes the Son” — “even though that’s not a John Lennon song,” the host said of the hit Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun,” written and sung by Harrison. “So it doesn’t really work. It’s not as clever as they thought it was.”
Lennon said it “was to be expected.”
“It was something I had to be conscious of, trying to make a name for yourself in my position was a very difficult thing to do,” Lennon said.
After Lennon remarked it was a world he was now trying to extricate himself from, Maher countered that it was “so smart” to embrace his father’s past.
“Because first of all, you’re never going to be able to get away with it,” Maher said. “And it’s a great legacy. And you’re an honorable continuer of it.”
Watch the full, 1 hour and 52-minute interview at the top of this file via YouTube.