|JULIAN Lennon, elder son of the late John Lennon, is mounting a career
comeback with "Photograph Smile," his first release in seven
years. This 14-song collection of love songs and tunes that project
a youthful optimism is the best this 35-year-old man has ever recorded.
Lennon checked in with The Post during a day trip to France from his
home in Italy. Here's what's on his mind.
Q: It's been a number of years since your last album. What's the
new disc about - is there a running theme?
A: There was no intentional theme. What might be
the most pronounced theme is love. Love is something we all understand,
something we all relate to. I also tried to touch on truth, honesty,
hope and everything that is involved in love relationships. Although
this is about my life, it isn't about any particular period in my
life. In a way, making this album was like therapy to me.
Q: On the cover of the disc, there's a picture of a boy. Is that
A: It certainly is. That picture was taken about
the time Dad walked out and there was a new father figure in my
life. This photo captures my first glimmer of happiness. I felt
like I was being cared for and loved. My stepdad [Roberto Bassanini]
was around every day. He took me to school, to the park, to the
movies - it was a happy time.
Q: Is John Lennon's influence in your music solidly there, or do
people hear it because they want to hear it?
A: It's 50-50 on that one. What is nostalgic to
me will not be nostalgic to others. People will always project what
they want in what I do because there is a warm place in their hearts
for Dad and The Beatles. If there's any stylistic resemblance at
all between our music, I imagine the public would hear it whether
it was intentional or not.
Q: That said, there is a very Beatles-like song on your new album
called "I Don't Want to Know." Can you talk about that number?
A: This song taps into The Beatles' sound from the
very early days. "I Don't Want to Know" was a last-minute
decision to put on the album. A song like this could only go on
an album after I'd proved my own self-worth as a writer.
Q: Instead of, "Why include it on the album?" the question
is, "Why write it at all?"
A: After so many years of hearing, "You sound
just like your Dad," or, "You sound just like The Beatles,"
this song was very much tongue in cheek for me. I felt for the first
time I should do something that was overtly Beatle-esque rather
than some of the things I'd done in the past that were much more
subtle. Then, when all the reviews come out and people tell me how
much I sound like Dad, I can say back, "Yes, I do." After
10, 15 years of hearing this crap, we all will recognize this point,
and I will be able to move on to the next level.
Q: Have you come to grips with your past and your heritage?
A: I won't live in the past. My goals are only forward.
Q: If you were to take a day just for yourself, without obligations,
what would you do?
A: There would be no alarm clock. I'd wake up whenever,
naturally; have a bit of breakfast; and go out to lunch - maybe
get some fresh food for dinner. I try to cook at least a meal every
day. Generally, I like to drive and travel and discover new places.
When I get in the car [a 1968 black Mustang convertible], the top
comes down and very often I disappear, driving through one or two
countries in a day. I also love touring on my motorbike.
Q: Julian, you sound like an ordinary guy. Are you?
A: I am very ordinary. I am constantly humbled by
the wonders and beauties of the world. I like to live life as simply
as possible, as close to peace and contentment and friendship as
possible. I like to enjoy - none of us knows how long we're going
to be here. That's why I took that seven-year break between albums.
I said, "That's enough. Where's life?" I needed to find
Q: You've enjoyed the blessing - or maybe curse - of two fathers.
What did John teach you? What did Roberto teach you?
A: The only lesson I learned from Dad was how not
to be a father, and that hypocrisy doesn't work. Roberto was one
for enjoying every single moment and being able to express that
enjoyment of life. I've always wanted to live this way but, in the
past, I didn't have the strength. In order to find the balance of
peace and happiness, I had to find myself and then take charge of
Q: The next generation of rock star is out there. Do you have any
advice for the children of rock stars?
A: Dad was out the door when I was 5, so I was never
living in that celebrity mode of life, or even being around that.
I never had the music-business advice that other kids may have had.
Friends joke I was the "pioneer of the 'sons of.'" No
matter what the situation, the best, most honest thing I could say
to an upcoming musician is, "Get a good lawyer and read the
Q: I'd like to ask some personal questions. Is that OK?
A: Let me tell you, Dan, we only have a couple of
minutes left. We're running overtime and I have six more interviews
to do. I apologize. This is going to be one of the last rounds of
interviews I'll do. The thing is, my job is as a writer. I never
wanted the image thing - it was always about being a writer. My
job is not to explain my life to people or even what the songs mean.
People are supposed to glean what they want from the music. It is
important that I do interviews this time because it's been so many
years since the last album. I have to lay a new foundation and to
Q: Without going into the old stories, what should the fans know
A: First, that I didn't grow up with a silver spoon
in my mouth. There is no false facade to me. I am a down-to-earth
man. From day one, it was always about the music. I never wanted
to or intended to take anybody's place. I am not John Lennon II.
I don't fancy that - no thank you. I never wanted to be promoted
as "the son of ..." That was done by the record companies
on my behalf. I feel my relationship with those record company executives
has done me a great injustice as far as the public's perception
of me is concerned. I feel used and abused. It's been a ride to
hell and back. On this album, I did everything. I started an indie
label and found there is control in life, there is balance. If anybody
wanted to know the real Jules as opposed to the hyped Jules, now
is the time and this is the album.
© Copyright 1999 NY Post