A Son That Really Shines!
Most articles that discuss the recent success of Julian Lennon spend a lot of time examining his past. Specifically, they concentrate on Julian's Beatle heritage. Many of us wonder what that has to do with his music ... a lot. In Julian's case, you really can't talk about Valotte without knowing a little about his past, Julian, to an even greater extent than his father, writes from his experience. He says, "Most of the time I hide my feelings. I look at people and see the mistakes they make, and I try to avoid them. I write from watching, and from a bit of self experience." On the single, "Well, I Don't Know" Julian is writing directly from his own experience and specifically about his father. Julian explains, 'It's about looking for signs of the afterlife from Dad." John once told his son that if he could contact him from the afterlife he would float a white feather across a room, Julian has yet to witness the feather.
Although Valotte is Julian's album debut, it's not the first time Julian has recorded professionally. Back in 1974, on John Lennon's Walls and Bridges LP, an 11-year-old Julian played drums on the "Ya Ya" cut. His father added the piano and vocals. Julian also taught himself how to play piano, concentrating on jazz and classical music. With regards to rock 'n' roll, Julian has been influenced by Steely Dan, Keith Jarrett, the Police, and naturally the Beatles.
Now, it's Valotte that's influencing young musicians and rock fans. Julian says, "Now that I've got it off my chest, I feel fine. But now I'm worried about the next album." If Julian decides to team up once again with veteran rocker/producer Phil Ramone, he really won't have much to worry about. Ramone has already received praise for his work with Paul Simon and for his work on Billy Joel's Nylon Curtain LP. Phil's work on Julian Lennon's disk, however, is something special. Phil is quick to mention, "He can hit your heart with a lyric and be clever with a melody. Music is the joy of his life, no doubt about it."
People who have criticized Julian for sounding too much like his father just don't understand the situation. It's not really the same as an absolute stranger sounding like John Lennon. This happens to be his son; it's in his genes! Julian takes a more practical outlook. He remembers, "There were times when I'd work something out that Phil would say was too Beatley. It was like, enough is enough. But I can't change the sound of my voice. Anyway, I'm proud of it." And so are millions of other people. Valotte has already cracked the top ten in the national album surveys, with the single mirroring the achievement (not bad for a debut). You can rest assured that there will be other Lennon cuts to spin off the album as well. "Too Late for Goodbyes" is already being touted as a very hot cut.
For now, maybe the best thing for Julian to do would be to take a little time to gather himself and contemplate the future. It might even be a good idea to visit Valotte, the French chateau where much of the album's material was written. Now that Julian's a hit, he's picking up where his father left off, a nomad on the long and winding road of rock 'n' roll.
© 1985 Rock Beat
'Hey Jules' © 1998 - 2002 CJ Burianek