Singer song-writer Julian Lennon has said he was “dreading” the day he would have to perform his father’s famous song, “Imagine”.
Speaking to Elton John’s Rocket Hour radio show, Lennon said: “Let me tell you know, since I’ve been in the business, I’ve kind of been dreading the day… Because I’d always said that I would only actually sing it if it felt like it was the end of the world, in many respects.”
He added: “And after watching what’s been going on over the past couple of years, and especially recently with Russia and Ukraine, the people of Global Citizen said, ‘Got anything up your sleeve?’ And I’ve been watching the horrors on TV, as we all have. I just felt, this is it.
“And once I’d said yes, if you thought I had anxiety before, once I’d said, yes, I went, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to do this, that honours it, and is different and is my own take, but still respects it in every way, shape or form’.”
Lennon also explained his approach to covering the song, and revealed it will be released as a single in the future.
The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy...
As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could. So today, for the first time ever, I publicly performed my Dad’s song, IMAGINE. pic.twitter.com/Qcggk2XaAx
— Julian Lennon (@JulianLennon) April 8, 2022
He told John: “For me, the only way I could do that was take it away from the piano, the plunky piano, and do it as raw, as unproduced as possible and as heartfelt as possible.
“For me, that was the way to do it. I have to tell you that we will be releasing that as a single in some way, shape or form very soon with all donations going to refugees in Ukraine and around the world. That’s on the cards.”
Lennon is releasing his seventh album later this year, titled Jude, as a nod to his father’s band. Speaking to John about the album, he said: “It felt very much a sort of coming of age, I guess.
“Especially as life moves on, you tend to look at your life and look at where you’ve come from. And especially after having seen the Get Back movie with Sean and Olivia Harrison, and then Stella being there.
“I mean, I’d had the idea of the name before that, but it was just made so that it felt even more right.”
“Hey Jude” was written by Sir Paul McCartney to comfort the five-year-old Lennon when his parents John and Cynthia were separating.
Lennon reflect on the history of the song, saying: “‘Hey Jude’ was in fact, Hey, Jules in its initial stages. And it was very much written about [Paul McCartney] thinking about me and my circumstances and that I needed to be strong and at the end of the day, find my way through this mess that I was going to be in…
“I think I honoured the song and I think I honoured where I’ve come from, my legacy, so to speak, my heritage.
I think, again, now just felt like the right time, because life is too short and this felt perfect for this moment, too.”
Elton John’s Rocket Hour is available on Apple Music 1.