fact, his karma is well documented. Born April 8, l963, in Liverpool,
England, John Charles Julian Lennon is, the son of Cynthia Powell and
John Lennon, who met at art college in 1958. Married in August of 1962
just prior to the musical explosion that would forever more be known
as Beatlemania, the Lennon's married life was, for the young mother
and her only son, a difficult period, at best.
At the insistence of manager Brian Epstein, both young 'Jules' and his mother were kept hidden away from the growing legions of Beatles fans. Touring, making re- cords - the sheer intensity of the Beatles juggernaut - resulted in the eventual demise of the Lennon's marriage, even after the existence of Cynthia and Julian was made public.
Growing up on the Continent with his mother as his most significant influence and source of comfort, Julian saw his father only a handful of times between his parent's 1969 divorce and John Lennon's death in 1980. In praise of his mother, a lady who has sustained her dignity and grace in the face of bitter scrutiny and constant media intrusion, Lennon states, 'She, without a doubt, gave me my moral guidance. There's a genuine sincerity, truth, and honesty that comes from her that's obviously a very serious influence in my life.'
Another huge influence on Julian was his step-father, Robert Bassanini. Growing up for a time in Bassanini's sunny Italy gave Lennon a love for Italian culture, food, and the Italian way of life, so much so that he has remained a resident of the country. "They wake up, do a little bit of work and eat and socialize for four hours and do a bit more work and socialize and eat for another six hours. They truly enjoy life."
Dedicating Photograph Smile to Bassanini only makes the significance of this relationship more pertinent to the man Julian Lennon has become.
As for his own father, Julian Lennon is matter-of-fact when he says, "I just feel that, as a father, what John Lennon gave to me was what not to do. How not to treat your wife and kids.'
While fans and fanatics loyal to the senior Lennon would prefer a more idealized portrayal, his eldest son sees him as a very human being.. 'I have to look at every angle and realize, my God, [when the Beatles whirlwind happened] he was only in his early 20's!"
Still, Lennon speaks of the great pain his father's absence and lack of attention created within him. 'There's a great level of forgiveness there, but there is also a great level of anger as in 'why didn't he figure it out? Why didn't he understand sooner?' Which makes me feel bitter and angry at times. Unfortunately, that's the one thing that will never be resolved in my life.'
But, Julian Lennon's discomfort is much lighter and less evident today than it was when he began his education in the business of music back in 1984. A self-assured individual, today, he speaks with excitement about his new album, believing that Photograph Smile is really his first record - the one that is most truly him.
'[This time] I was finally putting myself in a place where there wasn't going to be any intrusion into the work I was doing,' he explains. 'There was nobody knocking at the door saying it wasn't commercial enough or it wasn't up tempo enough.'
Having co-produced the project with his Music From Another Room partner, Bob Rose, gives Lennon another reason to be pleased. Rose, whose own credits include the legendary Roy Orbison, proved to be an ideal in-studio counter-balance to Lennon who, perhaps more than ever before, has been allowed to display a talent for melody that is more akin to Paul McCartney than to the raw, rebellious style of his late father.
'Yeah, if any comparisons are to be made,' he says, "particularly arrangement wise, I would say it leans much more towards Paul. A lot of people don't get that. But, it's true.' Lennon's catchy, light 'Kiss Beyond the Catcher,' an appealing upbeat POP number that stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the album is very much like something the clever McCartney might have written in a moment of whimsy.
Not surprisingly, though, listeners familiar with the music of the Beatles will find several instances where Lennon purposefully tips his hat to the Fab Four, particularly on the tracks 'Day After Day,' which echoes 'Fool On the Hill' and 'I Don't Want to Know,' with its "Hard Day's Night' vibes. But, as Lennon has already confessed, this is part of who he is and part of the music he makes.
Concerning McCartney - who wrote the song "Hey Jude" for a young Julian and was the only Beatle to keep in touch with Cynthia and her son after the divorce - he is dear to Lennon as is apparent when he speaks of his father's old friend. "I have a great fondness for Paul,' whom he sees maybe once or twice a year. 'He is very much like an uncle." Continuing his thought, Lennon says, 'I'm the son of one of his best friends who is no longer around. That's got to be difficult for him. Especially when he sees the physical comparisons, or even the work I do."
© 1999 Music Connection
Background/Flowers from the 'Photograph Smile'
CD inlet by Angelika Letsch.
'Hey Jules' © 1998 - 2002 CJ Burianek