Julian Lennon by William Sanford and Carl Green is a hardcover juvenile biography that my library system withdrew from its collection. We didn’t withdraw it recently, yet it wasn’t more than four years ago. I took it when I saw it in the pile of library discards. In my opinion this book should have been withdrawn a couple decades ago. It was published in 1986. Why would any library keep a book about a pop star (well past when he was at the peak of his career) still on its shelves in the twenty-first century? This is a classic submission to the Awful Library Books website. That is not a reflection on the quality of writing and by no means on the subject matter, but rather on the circumstances around the book’s relevance. In the early 2010’s no young person will have ever heard of Julian Lennon and even if he had, would rather read a book that covered more than his life up to 1986.
As I review my Beatles book collection and decide what I want to keep and what to give away, I came across this thin biography. I read this 32-page book within a few minutes. Before I opened it, I was puzzled by the quotation on the back cover:
“The new Lennon”…
“When I open my mouth, that’s what comes out. I’m not trying to copy anybody.”
I know I should not take juvenile celebrity biographies so seriously, yet the above quote was grossly misleading. It came across as if Julian regarded himself as “the new [John] Lennon”. Was Julian really saying that he was John’s reincarnation? Such an admission came out of Julian’s own mouth, after all. It wasn’t until I read the book that Julian was referring to how much his voice resembled his father’s. Julian wasn’t trying to copy his father at all. The big quote “The new Lennon”… had nothing to do with the quote underneath it, but nonetheless on its own it does reek of the authors’ (or publisher’s) wish to supplant the deceased father with a younger clone.
This book was filled with black-and-white and colour photos of Julian’s biggest years of fame as a young pop star. His first tour was covered in detail (more than I would have expected for a book of only 32 pages) and included shots of him heavily mascaraed on stage. I was at both of Julian’s shows at Massey Hall in Toronto in 1985 and appreciated the trip down memory lane.