Can we finally talk about the singer/songwriter Julian Lennon? Truthfully, I don’t think anyone has, near as I can recall.
I know what you think occurred, but you’re wrong and I can prove it. Just Google his name sometime. Not right now. I need you so don’t hurt my feelings, but sometime in the future, Google his name and mysteriously there will be another name in tandem with his, again and again, forever and on.
And that is a shame. Since 1984, this guy has been writing and recording music, and I’ll bet that you know some of it. I’m sure you’ve heard “Too Late For Goodbyes” or “Valotte.” If you dug deeper, you’d learn that Mr. Julian is really quite talented, but you’d be hard-pressed like rotten olives to find evidence of anyone giving him credit.
What you’re more likely to find are endless dreams that Mr. Julian and his half-brother – the guy who plays with that Primus dude – and the son of the other one, and the guitarist who looks and sounds exactly like his dad, and that guy who now drums for The Who, will make a band together. There’s something organically cruel about that. We always hear about the poor soul who was pressured by his family to carry on the business rather than strike out on their own and pursue their dreams. In this, the five I’ve (barely) mentioned did follow their dreams, and have done remarkable work through it, but they’re constantly called upon to take up the old shingle in one way or another.
Julian’s first album, Valotte, was produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, a producer best known for his long association with Billy Joel. Oddly enough, tracks on the record have a feel not dissimilar to Joel’s The Nylon Curtain. Specifically, the title track of the album with its plaintive piano line girding the chorus presented Julian as an artist ready to take on the world, provided the world could get out of his way enough to let it happen.
Produced by Patrick Leonard and featuring an absolute murderer’s row of studio talent, Julian’s third album, Mr. Jordan, attempted to shine a different light on him and – by and large – succeeds. “Now You’re In Heaven,” with its Bowie/Tin Machine tinge was very different than “Valotte,” but again, that was not the talking point the media leaned on during press junkets. 1991’s Help Yourself featured the gentle single “Saltwater,” but many insisted the record’s title was a dig at one of the old man’s albums with that one band from the 1960s. Julian himself may have stated it was, but you have to feel for the guy. Here he has this big production, helmed by Bob Ezrin, featuring a strong single, but the focus again was diverted to this netherworld of inferred nepotism.
Ladies and gentlemen, Julian has released six albums, with the latest being 2011’s Everything Changes. Why aren’t we talking about these? No, not all of them are perfect examples, but no artist’s discography is, and I’d argue that few musicians have worked this hard to create both an identity and a body of work that was their very own, and been so inextricably tied down by his or her lineage.
I repeat: Can we finally talk about the singer/songwriter Julian Lennon? I think it is well past time that we tried.