The Making of Mr. Jordan

Mr. Jordan Press Pack
  1989 Atlantic Recording Corporation

Mr Jordan according to Mr LennonMr Jordan according to Mr Lennon  
The Making of
"Mr. Jordan"
From the Julian Lennon
 "Mr. Jordan" Press Pack

When Julian Lennon played the last concert on his "The Secret Value Of Daydreaming" tour, it marked the end of a three-year cycle that had seen him rocket from relative anonymity to his status as a most successful young artist. He had spent those three years almost exclusively in the proverbial studio-tour-studio-tour pattern.

All this, plus the demanding promotional activities that accompany the making of popular music, had left Julian desperate for some time to relax and regroup. He explains: "I just said, 'I've got to have some time, goodbye' and disappeared. I traveled, I thought, I met new people, I got new ideas. After a year, I started working again, almost despite myself. I tried to stay away from the piano, but there came a point when if I saw one, I thought: 'I have to sit there.'"

Settling down in Montreux, Switzerland, Julian found himself back at the piano again. "I brought in all my equipment and began writing, without really anything in mind. I was just getting back into it. When I realized that I was starting to build up a selection of songs, I decided it was time to bring in some friends." So Julian flew in Justin Clayton, his longtime guitarist and writing partner, and at a later stage, John McCurry, a brilliant guitarist, best-known for his work with John Waite and Cyndi Lauper.

Lennon and McCurry had met in the past, but had not had a chance to work together. "The minute we began collaborating, it just clicked, and all these songs started coming. I would sit at the piano and play, and when he heard something he like he would pick up his guitar and work on it. At other times, he would play and I would be listening, waiting for an intriguing idea to come out."

Within several months, they had amassed about 25 songs, some complete, others without finished lyrics, and Julian was eager to start recording. "I began playing albums to see if I could find a producer I might like," Julian explains. "Then I met with eight or ten people whose work I enjoyed. As soon as Pat [Leonard] walked into the room, before he had even heard the tunes, I said to myself; 'this is the guy'. I just knew."

Lennon continues: "Once Pat heard my demos, all his suggestions coincided exactly with what I had in mind. Next thing I knew we were in the studio." Hearing some of Pat's unfinished work for other artists confirmed Julian's choice. "I told him ' this is what I want, a rough sound, not as polished as the rest of your work.'" The two men agreed on recording most of the album live, a drastic departure for Leonard, who had mostly been working with "sequencers and machines," as Julian says.

Lennon, Clayton, McCurry, and band locked themselves in a recording studio. "We'd rehearse, cut the song live, then fix the little bits that didn't quite work. We were all together in this tiny room, playing as loudly as we could and singing our hearts out. And it just felt really good this time around." Fiona, Peter Frampton, and Marilyn Martin also lent a hand or a voice here and there.

A new songwriting partner, a new producer, a new recording approach, a new band, as well as the artist's new-found maturity all contribute to making "Mr. Jordan" - the first Julian Lennon album in nearly three years - a major musical event. Harder-rocking and more experimental than anything he has release so far, "Mr. Jordan" unveils new facets of Julian's considerable talent.

Lennon explains: "Believe it or not, the stuff that's on this album is what I would have liked to do on the second album. The first album was mainly an experience of being involved in doing a record. But this is where I would have liked to be all along. I see my future music as getting even rawer than this, more down-to-earth; but at the same time experimental."

"Mr. Jordan" also marks a decidedly new vocal approach for Julian. "There again," he comments, "I am singing on this record like I would have liked to sing four years ago. I'd always been at a certain level; it wasn't down, it wasn't necessarily up. I'd tried some falsetto stuff, but that was about it. For the first time, I tried singing really low and moving up to a higher register. I realized, almost accidentally, that my vocal cords were an instrument with far more possibilities than I had explored up to that point."

Julian continues: "I watched this film many years ago called 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan,' which was re-made in a modern-day version called 'Heaven Can Wait'. The film told the story of a musician who was taken away from earth before his time by one of God's associates in heaven. Mr. Jordan is the fellow who puts him back on earth so he can try to fulfill his dreams, to experience the rest of his life. The song 'Now You're In Heaven' has a direct relationship to this idea, and I decided to call the whole album 'Mr. Jordan.'"

"The album didn't intentionally have a theme at first, but it grew out of the songs as they started coming together in the studio. Each individual song had something to do with an experience we went through in life, and these connections emerged about love, life, death, and our beliefs and feelings. Just before we finished the album, I was thinking of the idea of a fallen angel, of an angel that was going up to heaven but ripped its wings off because it wanted to come back down to earth - to experience more of life and fulfill dreams."

From the acoustic "Angillette" to the mid-tempo and infectious "You're The One," from the rockabilly of "I Get Up" to the neo-psychedelic touches of "Open Your Eyes," the new Julian Lennon album is one that finds the artist boldly experimenting, running forward into musical self-rediscovery. A work of undeniable maturity and breadth, "Mr. Jordan" reaffirms Julian Lennon's place in contemporary music. It marks the beginning of what promises to be a fascinating chapter in an already noteworthy career.