Julian Lennon Talks His “Love-Hate” Experience with “Hey Jude”

Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” for a young Julian Lennon who was caught in the middle of a divorce between his mother and his father, John Lennon. According to the song’s subject, he has a “love-hate” relationship with the music.

Videos by American Songwriter

“I’ve probably heard that song and heard renditions of it more than most people alive,” Lennon said in a new appearance on Club Random with Bill Maher. “And even my dear friends send me babies in nappies playing guitars singing ‘Hey Jude’–which I really don’t need.

“I’m thankful for the song without question,” Lennon continued. “But … the other real thing is that people don’t really understand that [the song is] a stark and dark reminder of actually what happened.”

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The song has a bittersweet connotation to it. McCartney tells Lennon to open his heart to the possibility of love despite watching his parents fade away. Remember to let her into your heart / Then you can start to make it better, McCartney sings in the iconic chorus.

“The fact that dad walked out, walked away—left Mum and I,” Lennon added. “That was a point of complete change and complete disruption and complete darkness and sadness. I mean, I was only 3, but I recognized something was up.”

Lennon adopted the nickname “Jude” for his latest album. The album covers various topics including environmental conservation and wars both within oneself and in the world.

Jude is my life in music in many respects,” Lennon told American Songwriter last year. “Creating this album left a clear path moving forward. I’m probably more focused and more at peace than ever before. I know who I am now and it’s taken many years to get to that.”

Around the same time he decided to cover “Hey Jude,” creating a full circle moment for the McCartney-penned song.

“I had anxiety about the response,” Lennon added. “I was overwhelmed by how much positivity came out of it. I feel I can walk around with my head held high–again not feeling fearful anymore. I’ve garnered more respect than ever.”

(Photo by Dave Hogan/MTV/Getty Images for MTV)

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