Great lost hit: Julian Lennon, “Say You’re Wrong” (1985)


(Above: The artist, looking just a bit like Dad.)

By the end of April, 1985, I was a junior in high school. I was supposed to be concentrating on things like taking the ACT, finishing my classes, and looking for a summer job. Of course, none of those things were priorities with me or most of my friends. I had just bought my first car, and girls were always of interest (and usually the primary topic of discussion). So, we concocted a plan to meet girls: We’d go to the Madonna concert.

I should explain that in early 1985 Madonna was one of the hottest acts on tour. She was coming to Chicago in May to play two shows at the UIC Pavilion.  My friend Dave (who went by Fritz since there were two other Daves) took the responsibility of getting Madonna tickets for us.  The plot was simple: that concert would be full of girls, we’d meet a few, and get ourselves girlfriends.  What could possibly go wrong?

The plot thickened the day that Fritz met us at my locker and said “I couldn’t get Madonna tickets. But, I have good news. I got us four for Julian Lennon.”

We were incredulous.  Why the hell would we want to go to that show? Fritz sold us on it, pointing out that it might be the closest we ever get to anything related to the Beatles.  As we were all fans of the Fab Four, we figured “Why not?” Besides, I liked both “Too Late For Goodbyes” and “Valotte,” so maybe the show wouldn’t be so bad.

It was either April 24 or 25, 1985 – I can’t locate the ticket stub – when we went to the Auditorium Theater in Chicago for the show. Imagine our surprise when we got there and realized that we were in a distinct minority. There were high school girls everywhere. Thousands of screaming teenagers all excited to see the cute son of a Beatle sing love songs just for them.  I looked at Fritz and said “This might work.”  (No, we didn’t talk to a single girl that night.  Same thing would have happened at the Madonna show. That, you see, was the real problem with the plan, but none of us wanted to admit that.)

I gotta be honest – the show was great. I know that he sang his hits, but the song that stood out for me was “Say You’re Wrong.”  It was a catchy tune, and while he sang it he did this goofy sort of jumping around dance that drove the girls crazy. That was the song that convinced me to pick up the album the week later, and the obligatory concert T-shirt. A few weeks later, I wore the T-shirt to school, and a girl in one of my classes showed up in a shirt that she got at a concert – the Madonna concert. We would likely have just met our classmates anyway had we gone to that show. Maybe we had a different sort of luck.

“Say You’re Wrong” eventually peaked at #21 on the chart in 1985. It also couldn’t be appreciated fully by me that night at the show.  It’s a song about a relationship that has run its course, a song about a couple that has grown apart. In April of 1985 I’d never had a situation where I’d been a part of anything that had grown together, and hadn’t experienced anything like the sort of loss that Lennon explains in the song. Getting a note passed to you in homeroom that says “I’m sorry to say that I think your a good friend” (and yes, that actually happened once, verbatim) isn’t the same thing. You have to be more mature to get that.  So much for the teenybopper show.

You can hear “Say You’re Wrong” by clicking here.


3 thoughts on “Great lost hit: Julian Lennon, “Say You’re Wrong” (1985)

  1. Pingback: As I look back now, the summer seemed to last forever: The Billboard Hot 100, July 27, 1985 | 45 Ruminations Per Megabyte

  2. Pingback: School’s out for winter: The Billboard Hot 100 for December 15, 1984 (and what we probably listened to instead.) | 45 Ruminations Per Megabyte

  3. I noticed the song has an extra minute on the 45 rpm than it is on the lp something went wrong somewhere. Usually the 45 rpms are cut a few second shots the Lp’s are the ones with the longer versions but it’s still a great song I remember it well from May 1985.


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