Not surprisingly, a lot of people have assumed that Julian Lennon was singing about his father, John Lennon, in this song. Julian, himself, has denied that interpretation, saying that this song was just his way of dealing with a breakup and nothing more.
Like yesterday’s video, Too Late For Goodbyes was directed by Sam Peckinpah, the notorious director behind The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid. It was directed at a time when Peckinpah’s Hollywood career was nearly over, having been sabotaged by too many fights with the studios and too many rumors about his drug and alcohol-intake. His two videos for Julian Lennnon would be Peckinpah’s final work as a director. He died just a few months after they were released.
In the UK, Too Late For Goodbyes was Julian Lennon’s first single and was followed by Valotte. In the United States, the order was reversed and Too Late For Goodbyes came out after Valotte. To date, Too Late For Goodbyes is the most successful single that Julian Lennon has ever released. It reached #1 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Chart and stayed there for two weeks.
I am as shocked as anyone to discover that this sedate video was directed by the director who was known (affectionately or not) as Bloody Sam but indeed it was.
Valotte was the first U.S. single from Julian Lennon, a musician whose talent was often overshadowed by the fact that he was the son of John and Cynthia Lennon. John divorced Cynthia, leaving her for Yoko Ono, when Julian was only five years old and, by his own admission, Julian’s feelings towards his father have often been mixed. (Paul McCartney reportedly wrote what would become Hey Jude in an attempt to console Julian after the divorce.) When Julian Lennon pursued his own musical career, many reviewers spent more time discussing Julian’s physical and vocal resemblance to his father than his music.
As for the song, it was a ballad about finding love and not, as many have incorrectly assumed, a song about Julian’s relationship with John. The song was initially written at a French chateau known as the Manor de Valotte, which is how the song got its name. The single was subsequently recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. The line, “Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar” is a reference to the location of the studio.
As for Sam Peckinpah, both his career and his health were in decline when he directed this video. Peckinpah made a huge impression in the late 60s and early 70s with films like The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs but, by the time the 80s came around, the critics had turned on him and his abuse of drugs and alcohol had become so notorious that he couldn’t get a job in Hollywood. Peckinpah directed both this video and Lennon’s follow-up, Too Late For Goodbyes. His work on the videos was critically acclaimed but unfortunately, Peckinpah would pass away shortly after they were released.