Mr. Jordan According to Mr. Lennon
A Candid Conversation

Atlantic Records PR 2693

Mr. Jordan According to Mr. Lennon Interview By:
Dan Neer and DeWitt Nelson

Produced By
Neer Perfect Productions 
(David Bailes & James Fahey)

Executive Producers:
Perry Cooper, Judy Libow

Side A: Unbanded (Questions and Answers)

Julian: Hi. I'm Julian Lennon and now it's time for a little chat all about Mr. Jordan!

What have you been doing since 'The Secret Value..?

Julian: Absolutely nothing.

Daydreaming. I figured just hanging out, doing nothing.

Julian: What have I been doing?

Because in actuality this is a long time for you in between records sort of...

Julian: A very long time yeah. Well one could say I've been discovering myself to a degree. But - I mean, I've just been trying to gain experience and having a little more time to myself and... thinking up ideas. Taking my time about being creative, not forcing myself.

Why is the album called Mr. Jordan?

Julian: It wasn't intentionally a theme idea at first but it became that. The songs that started coming together after we started working in the studio all started to be,  all - each individual song had something to do with something that we went through in life. Whether it be life-death experience or what we want to do or how we feel. Just before we finished the album I was thinking of the album cover concept and came up with the idea of the fallen angel. The angel that was going up to heaven but was ripping its wings off because it didn't want to go up just yet because it wanted to come back down to earth and experience more of life and get on with his dreams and what he wanted to do. Whereupon, I sort of saw a relationship in that to do with the actual first song, Now You're In Heaven and when I watched this film many years ago called Here Comes Mr. Jordan which the new modern day version is Heaven Can Wait- That film was based on a musician who had his dreams in life and was taken away from earth before his time by someone in heaven - well one of God's associates took him away. And Mr. Jordan is the fellow that tried to put him back on the earth to fulfill his dreams, to experience the rest of his life. And the basic theme is - with all the connections -  is what we've dealt with - as I've said before about love, life and death and our beliefs. And it all sort of came together as a theme and I just thought, 'Well, Mr. Jordan is a good - for a collective bunch of songs, a theme - Mr. Jordan's - I like it' and I just stuck with it. I was going to call it 'Heaven' at first but thought 'How many people have called something heaven?' You know. I thought, 'Nobody is going to ask me a sensible question on that!' So..

In actuality, that's really quite clever so in respect this album is coming back to earth for you in a certain way. yes?

Julian: Yes, it's also having dealt with all of the emotions that I've dealt with in the songs. It's - I look at it as a fresh start too.

Well, tell us about the recording of Mr. Jordan then. Where did you write it? How long? I mean over what period of time?

Julian: Right. Well, after we finished the second tour I said, 'Goodbye, I said right thank you, nice meeting you. I'm going away for a long time to be creative. Thank you.' And I basically spent a year doing nothing, traveling, organizing my life, getting it together. 'Where do I live anyway?' That kind of stuff. 'Who am I?' And the second year I was in a position where I had to leave America and England. I had to go away for, well, for tax reasons and things like that because I was living - not living - but moving about in both countries so much. So the lawyer section said, 'Well it's um - you have to find a country to go and live in for a year.' I said, 'Really?, I don't particularly want to do that.' So, I thought, 'Well, where can I go?' And I remembered being in Montreaux in the pop festival two years before that and I said, 'Now, that place was beautiful.' And so I found a house on the lake and rented it and moved out there. Took all my equipment out there.  And I didn't push myself but whatever came came and I put it down and slowly but surely songs started coming about. And then what I did was I brought Justin over who I'd written with before and then I brought a new guitarist called John McCurry over who I'd been wanting to work with for years but it just didn't happen because of certain problems and God knows what.

What I'd known about John before was he worked with Cyndi Lauper.

Julian: John Waite and Cyndi Lauper he worked with before yeah.

John has this bright red hair...

Julian: Bright red hair, the sort of razor side burns that kind of stuff.

Nasty guitarist, though, he's real good.

Julian: He's wonderful. Wonderful. And so he came over and I always wanted to work with him. He actually was going to come out on the second tour only there was certain band member ego problems that were taking place at that time. So, unfortunately, that didn't come together and now was the chance. And we basically knew that we could hit it off-it was just one of those spark situations. And from that point on it was - it's all history. 

I see.

Julian: Let me tell you, in the first year that I had off, I tried to avoid writing music because of the pressure that I went through on the second album. I just tried to avoid it so I could get back into enjoying music for the sake of playing it from heart, rather than being squashed into that situation. So I tried not to play for a year. But, whenever I saw a piano, I just said, 'I've got to sit down over there!' (laughs) There's no way I can avoid it and I came up with a couple of ideas before I actually went to Switzerland.

Where did you travel during those years? Did you have any great things happen to you in that first year you that you know were traveling around? Or was it just you know - do you want to keep it private?

Julian: Well you know, it was basically getting myself organized. Because, up until that point in time, I'd been pretty ignorant about everything in life, I mean even talking about business and all the deals that were made and all that kind of stuff. And I sort of said 'Well, what's this all about?' Let me finally sit down and look at this on paper and sit there with someone and say 'What does this mean?' And then I started realizing what things meant...

And then it got scary.

Julian: And I got really scared and so I had a bit of sorting out to do. 

I see.

Julian: And also, many interesting people that I met - whether it be in Switzerland - well there were definitely a couple of strange ones out there. But there were a couple of people that sort of gave me ideas for songs who I'd met or spent time with over that period of time.

You were obviously changing and reevaluating because on the two previous records you did most of the songwriting by yourself. Right?

Julian: Well I'd done work, with Justin and I had co-written quite a few of the songs.

It seemed to me that there were a lot of songs on those records you had written by yourself, but almost every song on this record, with the exception of two, are co-written.

Julian: Right.

Has this come from a need to explore strange new worlds - seek out new life?

Julian: No well the thing was - the way I write music is I tend to write in a ballad style and I'd always wanted to incorporate that into a more up-tempo rhythm style because I felt that in most pop music today there was a lack of melody, lack of harmony. It was just out and out pop selling out kind of stuff and I wanted to incorporate some - some interesting chords, some - some things that you would only necessarily hear in jazz or maybe classical and I wanted to try and involve all those beautiful sounds in the pop sense so that people would go 'Ahh, well, that's nice - that's - ahh so that's music' to a degree, but.. And I knew that from speaking with McCurry before that he had the techno-pop sense and I had the classical sense and so basically we put it together and that's what happened.

Well, it's a like a very different album. It's - It is like you exploring a lot of different things in a lot of different areas and stuff.

Julian: Yeah, I'm really happy about it. I really am, because as well as exploring the musical side it was a first chance to explore my voice too.

Absolutely.

Julian: Do you want to continue in this vein at the moment?

Yes, go right ahead. Yeah. Because, from the very first song on the record you can tell you're doing that.

Julian: Well, what happened was, and I believe this is how it all started, is that the first song that John and I did we just basically came up with the music first and it was the song You're the One, the second song. And we had written the music and said, 'Yeah, that's great. That's rocking.' And we hadn't come up with any vocal melodies or where we were going. So I sat there after we put the track down with headphones and the microphone and sort of mumbled along and realized that um, it was the in the wrong key. (laughs)

Oops.

Julian: Or the key I'm used to singing in - that sort of level that I've - which is almost like speaking level to me and I had a choice. I said 'Well, I can either sing up there or I can sing down there.' So, for the first time, I sat there and I - while John was out of the room you know - I sort of went 'sings' - you know sort of experimented and I said, 'God, I like that. Why didn't I do that before? Why didn't I even feel that?' And so I discovered that, well, I can sing low and then I can jump up to the high stuff up there and sing in the middle there. 'Yeah - yeah.' And then after that we wrote a couple of songs in that vein so I could experience and try it out a little more. And - and I was over the moon about it. It was like a new thing for me it's - and it also gave me inspiration because I'd been used to singing at such this straight level before. Now, I'm below that. I'm above that and - I'm just over the moon.

Yes, so you're really happy. You've got a new thing to work with.

Julian: It's my new instrument now.

It is, which is great. I mean it reminds me of several things. I mean it has a little bit of Elvis in it, there's a little bit of a Bowie-esque thing.

Julian: Yeah well yes, I mean, to an extent, we did go overboard on one or two things, like the Elvis thing. But just to let people know that don't - I mean I think a lot of musicians take themselves so seriously these days that it gets very boring you know. They just want to project this wonderful self-righteous image that's this you know, 'Hi, I'm this idol or this...' And I say, 'Well, bring yourselves back down to earth.' We're all here. We're all having fun. We just want to enjoy life. We want to write serious songs but we want to have fun with songs too you know. And not everybody wants to write a song that has so much meaning to it that you know, you might as well get the dictionary out to understand what they're talking about.

Well it does seem that you've discovered having fun.

Julian: Yeah, oh definitely. Definitely. 

Well tell us a little about that..

Julian: Or I discovered how to release fun. I've always been capable of that but I've never had an outlet for that.

Actually, now it's more out there on a vinyl that people see you are having fun. Because I think if people saw you in the past on the stage and stuff it would look like you're having some good times.

Julian: Yeah. Yeah. And, also, we just finished the video for Now You're In Heaven which is the first single.

Tell me about the video because I'm trying to figure this one out.

Julian: Well hmm, it changed, it changed. We came in with an original concept and original theme and it sort of changed as we went along. We could have done a video - I mean the song is about wanting to be with someone, why don't you try it out with me and we can be in heaven being together and just not think about the rest of the world but enjoy life and get on with it. So, I mean, we could have easily gone in and done the old 'Okay, that one with the miniskirt there, please, that one with the mini-skirt there and 

and that low-cut one over there

Julian: yeah. And the one with the red tights over there or stockings." We could have gone in for that theme very easily which is what everybody has been doing except for a few exceptional people like Sledgehammer you know, Peter Gabriel, that kind of theme where at least someone has tried and come up with some fresh ideas because I think the videos at the moment are so boring, boring, boring. So, anyways, I went through a whole list of videos and I kept looking at all these directors. And said, 'there's nothing there, it's performance on stage, 8mm to color to hand held camera to - and plenty of women in mini-skirts' and I know people like to see that to a degree but when every video on TV is a miniskirt and 8mm hand held camera it gets really too much. So, different theme, let's not have a girl, let's create a different person. So we - So the director came up with an idea. And he's not a music director, he's a commercial director in England, a guy called Tony K. I wanted to stay away from performance, you know, jumping around on stage. And so we had this idea where I'm a ventriloquist and I'm sitting on stage in an old English theater and the dummy starts off singing the song and I sing a line of the song to the dummy and the dummy has its eyebrows and eyes reacting all over the place. And then it's - to introduce a little humor it's trying to drink the glass of milk while spitting it out because he can't sing and drink milk at the same time (laughs). And also having a sandwich at the same time. And also introducing the crowds. And what we - we thought, well, let's not have a crowd jumping up and down. We'll have maybe 10-15 people in the audience sleeping, really bored with it. (laughs) So we pan on these people just so bored and walking out. So, I'm sitting up there trying to do the best job I can you know. The original idea was that the dummy would get so - See me and the dummy were having the relationship. See the dummy was what we would call the girl, so to speak, only it was a dummy and it looked like the one out of the film "Magic." Have you seen that with Anthony Hopkins and... - Scary looking thing, it's own personality, it's the same looking dummy. So what we decided to do at some point in the song the dummy would get so fed up of me getting the applause and getting all the thanks and 'You're doing such a good job,' the dummy would reverse roles with me. So now we have a 14 foot dummy replica with two guys inside of it working this dummy and me sitting on the dummy's knee singing the song.

That sounds different Julian.

Julian: It is different. It's inter-cut with very wide angle lenses on the dummy so it looks nice and scary. And just a lot of facial reactions as though this dummy is actually another person and we're reacting against each other, you know, that kind of stuff.

Now this is really great that you're exploring your own creativity. And your really, I think that you're using it well and pulling it out of yourself because not only have you explored your voice, you're exploring videos you know. You're really rocking hard on this record. I mean, there are some songs I've never heard you rock this hard except live, you know, and some encores and stuff.

Julian: Well also, there was a benefit that I did for a friend that died in a hit and run. And some people had said, 'Why don't you do - come up and try a couple of numbers.' I said, 'No, no, I'm not ready. I can't. You know, I just finished the studio. I don't remember any lyrics, what are you talking about?' So, the day before the benefit I said, 'OK, well, maybe I can get a band together,' so I literally found some friends in bars throughout Los Angeles and said 'How about this?' (laughs) And so, we had four hours to rehearse and teach these guys some of the new stuff so it was a little rough to say the least. And I hadn't been singing - after I sang on the album I had quite a break and so my voice wasn't in any condition. And in rehearsals it sounded fine but I hadn't performed for a long time. So when we got to the actual stage I was completely - a nervous wreck like I've never been - well probably had been one or two times - but ah I sounded the worst I had ever sounded in my life because I hadn't warmed up and I was just scared. We only did 2 of the new songs which was Now You're in Heaven and I Get Up and Stand By Me as an encore. And Stand By Me was good because I knew it you know. I was settled in there but the other two I'd only just worked with. But, just hearing the rough band, I mean some - a couple of guys that came in to help me doing this stuff live, it rocked - rocked the place. I mean - It was so - I was saying 'Right, when are going on tour? Let's go!' So now I'm just eager get - to be in that position and put the real band together and get out on the road.

I see. Do you have ideas for the real band already? Have you talked to people?

Julian: Yeah well - I was thinking of using the guys who did the album but one's here, one's there, one's picking his nose over there you know.  So they're all busy at the moment

Hey cut that out. (laughs)

Julian: (laughs) Stop that. Yeah  So I'm using Justin, I'm using John McCurry and we'll kick a few doors down this time. Not that we didn't in the past but this band is definitely going to be a lot more energetic a lot more raw. We're not going necessarily for a nice clean production this time around. We're going to start off by possibly doing a couple of clubs throughout Europe and America. You know just pick of couple of places and get in there and scream as loud as we can. And no nice lighting, no nothing, just get up there and play. And depending on how that goes, then go into production for a just slightly larger theater, maybe something like that, and come back and do it again.

You really examined this thoroughly.

Julian: Yeah so we're going to be pretty busy throughout this year.

Mother Mary is one of the the two songs you wrote by yourself. Is this you thinking and struggling to come to terms with your identity at all?

Julian: Well, I tried to place it someone's else's - I tried to have a character to build that story around - the song around. But I guess in the back of my mind it's about my own feelings, obviously, because where else would it come from? But, It was - I mean, the whole idea was based on this kid or somebody who'd grown up with religion stuffed down his throat but obviously witnessing other religions in life, some beliefs, and questioning himself and questioning the religion that if he did something, if he strayed from that religion and did something wrong would that - would Jesus or God still be there for him when he came back no matter how bad he was because, it says to a degree - ah in well that could be the Bible I guess - but it say to a degree, 'Well, if you're bad and Satan, then goodbye, you're gone. And if you don't forgive all your sins.' So, well, is he gonna be there or not if I'm bad? You know, that was the basis.

Is it wrong for me to judge myself by what you see? And then the choice that you make is the choice to be me.

Julian: Yeah. So, whatever I decide, am I okay? I'm like is it wrong to be myself, is it wrong not to believe in that?

It is interesting also the cello patterns. The way you use cellos on the record. I mean it does reminisce a little bit of psychedelia a little bit or even Beatle music sometimes, the use of the cellos.

Julian: Ha, here we go again. 

Ah now we are going to talk about classical.

Julian: No, No not necessarily. I felt there was a point in the first album and everybody said, 'Well, you sound like your dad.' And well you know you had a cello there it sounds like your dad too. I said, 'Well, what am I supposed to do? Leave instruments out because they've been used before? What does that mean?' So I finally said, 'Listen, I've got this idea. I think it should be a cello, and I don't care what anybody says, it feels right. Ok? Thank you.' So, in certain areas we did things, we arranged things a certain way and we put cellos in. And we said, 'Well, yeah, it does reminisce of that but if we took it out it would feel empty because that's how it feels. It feels right just there.' I sort of said, 'Well, yes -  no - I don't know. What are the - I'm mean are critics gonna have a go? Fu- them basically' I said, 'Listen, it sounds right there. If anybody is gonna do it why not me?' So I'm going to not use a cello because the Beatle's used a cello. I mean that's basically what it comes down to.

I agree with you. You should never worry about that.

Julian: No well, I used to so much, only this time, I just said, 'listen. You know, that's it.' I'll do what I feel is right and natural.

Do you think you achieved your goals for this record?

Julian: Yes! The thing I'm really happy about this album in particular is, - is for once, I spent a lot more time on the demos whether I'd not done it, finished the lyrics for it or anything, but in general I had a whole idea of how everything was gonna be. I said - I just said, 'Well, this, I love the way it is, it's gonna stay that way on the album' you know. For the first time the actual songs are very very similar to the demos, I mean, if not just perfected versions - which is what most things are on albums from demos. But I mean there's a definite closeness between - you know it's not that far astray from the demos at all. It's just a very clean polished live album.

Julian, thanks.

Julian: Been a pleasure.