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
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
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