Too Late for Goodbyes

Album: Valotte (1984)
Charted: 6 5

Songfacts®:

  • Released in the UK in September 1984, this was the first single for Julian Lennon, who is John Lennon's first son. (His first American single was "Valotte.") His mother Cynthia got a divorce from John when Julian was just five years old, and for the next nine years, Julian rarely saw his dad. When he was 14, Julian reconnected with his dad and made occasional visits to his home in New York City.

    Julian inherited many of his father's musical gifts, including a knack for songwriting. He wrote "Too Late for Goodbyes" on his own and released the song when he was just 21. It was a Top 10 hit in both the UK and US, and helped him earn a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, which he lost to Sade.

    "I had an old reel-to-reel Fostex in my first flat or apartment in London, which was in Kensington," Julian told us. "I remember just being in my living room. It was on the top floor walk-up of six flights. I just remember sitting there with a keyboard and writing this track."
  • Given his personal history, this song could be interpreted as Julian Lennon's message to his dad, who left him when he was young. Julian tells us that this is not the case. "Initially it was about a girl, a relationship," he said. "Then it was a few other friends in the room and I was bouncing ideas back and forth. I just ended up with that particular phrase and title and it seemed to stick. So it made sense to me, and voilà! Bob's your uncle. That's it. No hidden agendas on that one."
  • The album was produced by Phil Ramone, who had helmed albums by Paul Simon and Billy Joel. Ramone kept the production remarkably tasteful and mature considering he was working with a 21-year-old British kid in 1984. This is one of the more synth-heavy tracks on the album, but the keyboards were part of a mix with prominent guitar and bass.
  • Toots Thielemans played the harmonica part. Producer Phil Ramone used Thielemans the previous year on the Billy Joel track "Leave a Tender Moment Alone."
  • The video did very well on MTV, which Lennon credits for much of his success. He told us: "The early days of MTV certainly had a tremendous effect on most everybody at that point in time because that's when I felt the industry was a bit more exciting, because you really did in those days look forward to not only the latest new songs that were coming out by your favorite artists, but you wanted to see what they looked like, and sometimes that was the closest you were going to get if you couldn't go to their shows."

    Sam Peckinpah, who directed the films Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and Convoy, directed the video. He also directed Lennon's next video, which was for his song "Valotte."

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 5th 1985, Julian Lennon performed "Too Late for Goodbyes" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    And fifteen days later on January 20th, 1985 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #52; and eight weeks later on March 10th, 1985 it would peaked at #5 for one week...
    The day it peaked at #5 on the Top 100 it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show he also performed "Valotte"; and at the time it was at #10 on the Top 10, then the very next day it would peak at #9, for one week...
    John Charles Julian Lennon will celebrate his 52nd birthday in three months on April 8th {2015}.
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