It Isn't Always Easy 
To Be a Son

Viva JAM June 17, 1998 Germany

Photograph Smile


The following interview which aired on the German station "VIVA's" "JAM" program on June 17th, 1998, was transcribed and translated by Nina (great job! Thanks for all the hard work!).  Nina says "the interview took place in the evening and the next day, I think. In the evening he wears a black pullover and black jeans. The next morning he wears a black T-shirt and blue jeans.  He sits on a sofa, in the evening the curtains are closed, in the morning you can see a lake behind.   Oh, and he looks great!" - All quotes are by Julian unless otherwise noted-CJ

Segment 1:  First attempt to walk

"I was about twelve years old when I first started to make music. I had an old cassette recorder and tried to write songs with Justin Clayton. I went to school with him, so we've known each other far too long! (Jules smiles)  So we just played around and tried to write songs."

Clip of  "THIS IS MY DAY"

"The gym teacher of the school, he was a real kind of Rock'n'Roll fanatic, you know, with the curl and everything - I don't know if he is still there? (Jules waves into the camera, smiling), but during the breaks he was always behind the indoor pool in a shed. And everybody who was interested in learning to play the guitar, went there and got a basic Rock'n'Roll course."

Clip of  "THIS IS MY DAY"

"When I got my first piano for my 16th birthday, I started to enjoy it. The guitar didn't seem to be giving me enough, the piano seemed more multi-sided and much more intriguing to me."

Clip of  "THIS IS MY DAY"

"I decided to put a band together in school. It was at one of those little parent days, where they can see what the students did over the year. And I said, 'okay let's make a song'. And unexpectedly the school said, 'okay, you can go on stage.' The song that we wrote wasn't a song, it was actually more a Shakespeare-sonnet, and I wrote the music. It was very bizarre. I don't know how old I was, maybe about 14, 15 or 16 years old and we played it on stage. And getting this immediate response from the audience of what you do - there was nothing like that. As soon as you get this energy from the audience, doesn't matter how nervous I was before, I knew - why should I sit in an office or draw or cook, let me do this (Jules plays air-guitar), this is just great, you know - it was a fantastic feeling !" (He laughs!)

Segment 2:  Hard bred


"The weirdest thing was to hear 'Too late for Goodbyes' on the radio the  first time. At the time I was working with Dave Clark on a musical in London (Julian is referring to the musical "Time" - CJ) and on the way to the studio we turned on the radio, thought it must be on today. It was quite bizarre, really freaky, and I thought, oh, that feels good, I like it. And to know that thousands of other people were listening to it at the same time was quite an experience. It was quite  heavenly."


"I honestly didn't know what to expect. I just did my best. Obviously there was a certain curiosity, especially from the Beatles fans of 'what he's gonna sound like?' "


"I think there were some crossed motives  in the past. I felt myself, especially in the early days in America, passed around, I appeared in every music show, I presented every music program, every music documentary. But then I asked myself: what am I doing here? I want to write songs and sing!"


"I never wanted to have an image. I think of myself as a simple singer and songwriter. It has been like that ever since and won't ever change. At a  musical level my target is to be the best songwriter that I can be and to get on with life outside of that."

Clip of  "VALOTTE"

"I have to say that it was a fight and still is. For some reason I can feel it in my bones that there are people in the industry who don't want me to succeed."

Clip of  "VALOTTE"

"It was supposed to be in a well respected newspaper. It was supposed to be a review of one of my albums. But the article in the end was nothing more than a caricature of the Lennon family, a public annihilation, not only of me but Dad and Yoko and Sean, absolutely ripped everybody's throats out, nothing to do with music."

Clip of  "VALOTTE" video

---Jumps to an older interview which Nina thinks might be from 1991---

"If people give it a chance, if they actually sit down and listen to it - without thinking about the name 'Lennon' - I really hope that they'll enjoy it. I wish it to succeed but if it doesn't - it doesn't mean that I'll stop, you know."


Segment 3:  Motherly Love

Clip of "JESSE"

"The closest person in my life, who is everything for me, who guided me and who helped me find myself, was my mother. She was always that kind of person that let you resolve your problems yourself. I mean, if you really couldn't do it she would help. But I had to figure out things myself and that was important, she sort of let me be."

Clip of "JESSE"

"As a father he was no inspiration for me, really, there is no love left, really. I think there can be love between father and son but if your father leaves you in the first years of your life, than it is difficult for every child, you don't know how to deal with it. In my case it was especially hard, because always when I came to a new school, I was introduced as John Lennon's son, John Lennon from The Beatles. It was like a nightmare. I had problems finding friends. But I became quite a good diplomat. I figured out my ability to resolve situations that could have ended up really ugly, really nasty. I talked my way out of a lot of things - or I ran really fast !" (He smiles)

Segment 4:  Father Complex

"It was mortifying for me, of course. I mean, at that point we just started to get to know each other, to find out who, the hell, each other was. And what was left was the feeling that he left me twice - and the last time was forever, you know. Unfortunately there were a lot of things which left a lot of bitterness, a lot of anger, you know."


"The last 34 years it probably would have been nicer to be Tom Smith or anybody else. Of course I had the chance not to become a musician - I didn't had the choice not to go to school- but I could have done something else with a different name. But I just figured out I've been dealt these cards, so I've got to deal with them."

Clip of "YOU'RE THE ONE"

Bob Rose: "It must be a really difficult life he has to live. I don't think anybody realize how hard it is. The people come and automatically start talking about his father. If Julian was on promo tour for a new cookbook - he really is a fantastic cook , you know - and the first question they asked would be 'how did your father cook?' It's kind of horrible and I feel sorry for him in this respect."

Clip of "YOU'RE THE ONE"

"If I walked into a bar or a restaurant, the people don't come and ask: 'Hello! Did you have a good trip?' or something like that. No, they looked for a Beatles tape and put it on. I mean, before there was some lunch music on!  So they'd turn it up just to see what my reaction would be - was it me or was it not me - did it bother me - hell, yes, it bothered me. That brought me to such a state that whenever I hear a Beatles' song, I think it might be a test. It's been like that for about ten years now. And it is like a nightmare. Why don't they just say: 'Is it really you?' or ' I liked your father a lot.' Leave it like that, you know. There are a lot of Beatles songs I have no love for these days, you know. It's like: Stop already - I heard enough!"

Segment 5: Hard inheritance

---Jumps to an older interview which Nina thinks might be from 1991---

On a  reunion with the Beatles: "It wouldn't be the Beatles, would it? You can't bring something back to life that doesn't exist any more. People should stop grieving for the past and realize that I am not Dad. I am not that same person. There are connections yes, but he was a different person than I am. I'm a different person from him. Although I am his son, I won't take the place of him, trying to pull anything back together. It's not my place, you know, I have my own life."

Segment 6: Firsts

First album: "The one that sticks in my mind for some reason, I don't know whether it was the first or not. And I can't remember the name of the group but it was .... (he sings part of the song - which Nina doesn't know)"

First job: "I used to work in a restaurant with Justin, the guitar player, after school. And we knew the person working behind the bar very well. Unfortunately, during the course of the evening we sort of used to go behind the bar just to have a quick drink, you know. Eventually we had to leave because we were just spilling soup over people, you know, and laughed hysterically at the most silly things. (he laughs) So it was the first job and the last one of waitering in restaurants."

First drugs: (after hesitating a bit) "I definitely have to say Magic Mushrooms (smiles) Sorry, Mum ! (smiling into the camera)"

First sex: "If I would be telling that. I am afraid I have to be a gentleman on that school."

Segment 7: Gifted sons

--- The interviewer talks about the sons of Marley, Zappa and Dylan.-----

Segment 8: Musical Inheritance


"The number one thing when you're in a creative moment, is not to think about anything. When I later listen to the chords that I play, I think about the feeling, the lyrics, the story that could fit to the melody or how it relates to you. Composing doesn't happen in your head. It is very like a cathartic experience, it's like a release."


"I think of  myself as a songsmith, not as a musician. A song has three elements: the lyrics, the melody and the music. I think that all three things have to stand up on their own. If you take a sad, melancholy song, for example, the melody has to transport this feeling, but the music and the lyrics as well. But if they come together and create a marriage, that's when it becomes magical."

Clip of   "SALTWATER"

"I was never formally trained, I only play by ear. If I hear something in my head, I try to play it on the piano. And when I do it I make mistakes, natural mistakes, that often contain unusual chords. Every time I sit at the piano it's a new discovery of myself. But when I haven't played a song for about half a year, I have to learn playing it from the beginning!"

Speaker: "Today Julian is able play more than 30 instruments, without ever been formally trained!"

"I was at wedding, I think it was the one of Tom Waits. I saw a harp there, so I took it. I'd never played a harp before, you know, but I found myself able to pull a tune out of it in about 5-10 minutes. I can't say that I've played too many wind instruments, saxophones or clarinets. But I love the clarinet, so maybe it is to come. But I think I can learn to play an instrument in about 10-20 minutes, I figure out the basics or something, you know."

Segment 9: Julian: "This is JAM: Love & Hate"

Love:  "I love being surrounded by natural beauty. I love cooking but especially chocolate pudding. I love the people that I love in my life."

Hate: "I hate the immense time wasted by waiting in airports. I hate having a puncture on your car. I hate to forget lyrics."

Segment 10: Frustration


"I stopped, mainly because I was very frustrated by this business. I was frustrated by the companies, the advisers and the managers. There were too many wrong and unkeep promises. I felt a great lack of support from everybody I was working with. And I just sort of had enough."


"What's the point if I am working on a new album for two years. Then you go on promo tour for a year to promote the new album. What's the point if the record company doesn't support you? You just need this financial support if you want to move something. So I just had enough. I wanted to get out of the contracts. That was it."


"After that it was probably the first time in my life that I had time for myself. It was a very important period where I found out more about myself and where I could become more satisfied with myself. I found out who, the hell, I was. Many years of questioning myself."

Segment 11: Escapade


"That was a little challenge. In the last years I've spent a lot of time in the south of France, I went to the film festival in Cannes where I met Mike Figgus, the director of 'Leaving Las Vegas'. We sat down and talked. He told me his story. Actually he was a songwriter. Later was an actor and came to directing. And now he writes film music again. And I talked about what I wished I could have done and he said,well, let me write you a small part. It was a great experience but, my goodness, you need a lot of patience. For my three minutes part we needed 18 hours ! Up to a point I do understand why they get paid so much."


Segment 12: New Interests

Clip of "GET A LIFE"

"Finally after getting out of the contracts, I started to write songs again, but just because of the love of music and not because a manager wanted an album. Nobody looked over my shoulders, I had no pressure. And so I enjoyed music again. Before I just lost every motivation totally."

Clip of "GET A LIFE"

"I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had enough songs for three albums. Then I met Bob Rose, an acquaintance from the past."

Bob Rose: "I was asked to produce Julian ten years ago. In those days I refused. I didn't understand what he wanted musically. It seemed to me that he didn't know what he really wanted, which is understandable from his background. We met each other in Monte Carlo, had one of those good talks and decided to fly to Barbados to hang around a bit."

Jules: "I can remember it was one of those rainy days, you couldn't do anything. Fortunately we had a guitar. And I said:' Bob, do you mind if I play you a couple of tracks?' "

Bob: "When he did, I was floored. I couldn't believe what has become of him."

Jules: "His reaction was quite good. Well, I didn't know how he would react, if he would be real about it."

Bob: "It was remarkable how he had developed. His lyrics are unbelievably beautiful. It seemed to me that he'd become something which he was but had never allowed himself to be."


Bob:  "We put a band together. And always when Julian had an idea, we'd recorded it. In the end we had 30 songs, it could have been 50!"

Jules: "When we had recorded enough songs for more than two albums, I abridged it to one album. We sent the tape to a couple of people, a couple of major labels to try and see what's the response. It was up and down, bit of both, there were some good deals on the table, ..."

Speaker: "But then Julian Lennon decided to refuse all offers, to set up his own record company 'Music from Another Room' and take charge of his own business."

Jules: "It is only about four of us in the office. It is crazy. We look for our own sale partners, organize the photoshoots, the making of the videos.   It's been great because I have an eye on everything, you know, I'm the one asked the not man at the end of the line."

Segment 13: His Own Incentive


"I'd heard someone who fell in love with the song. He was a famous director and camera man. I put everything into his hands. But when I got the result, I was very disappointed. It was supposed to go to certain TV channels, music channels etc, etc, etc, the next day or two days later. So I called up a friend who was a young hip director, to try to save the video. You know, it looks like some cable, awful 1970's cable channel with the worst lighting you've ever seen. I was shocked. For seven years I'd been away from the business and then if I'd present myself with that - oh no (covers his face in his hands) - but my friend and I saved it as much as possible. From that point on with every other video we do, I'll be co-producing and co-directing, for sure."

Jules: "This is JAM: World rap!"

Sex symbol: "Marilyn Monroe"
Home: "Where the heart is"
Guitars: "chellos"
Religion: "got to be something out there"
Germany: "lots of record sales"
Lady Diana: "probably the only Royal, who kept the Royal Family alive with interest"
Sailboats: "freedom"
Hotel rooms:"jail" (laughs)
Journalists: "depends if they're nice or not"

Segment 14: The New Album

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany

"I never wanted to follow any trend. I get to know and enjoy what's going on around me. But the majority of the material I write is what I don't hear on the radio."

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany - "AND SHE CRIES"

"This album could come from the 60's, 70's or 90's, I don't want to commit myself to anything. Some people say that it sounds retro. Okay, but in the past good songs were written as well. And most of the newer stuff that comes out, that tend to be good songs, are retro."

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany - "PHOTOGRAPH SMILE"

"For years I've wrote music that's influenced by the classic, instrumental stuff, orchestral songs, almost little operettas. But when I presented them to record companies in the past, they just said: 'Yes, right, you want to but THIS on an album?' ( says it very sneering)"

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany - "PHOTOGRAPH SMILE"

"Finally, with having control of what I do, I want to present some of these qualities. For me it is just the beginning of where I might disappear to, you know, I might disappear into classical world from hell, you know. But I'll be enjoying it."

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany - "HOW MANY TIMES"

Speaker: "Julian Lennon's return is already one of the most brilliant comebacks of the decade. There were more than one million reservations in Europe alone for the new album. The magazine "Rolling Stone" placed Julian Lennon on the front page. (check out the interview from the German June issue)  It seems that he could succeed where the most sons of pop stars fail: to emancipate from their father."

Jules: "It does feel like the first Julian Lennon album. With all the other albums I wasn't satisfied at all, there was always something to criticize, from the lyrics to the refrain, I wasn't really sure about it. This is definitely Jules as a singer or a songwriter, just either on the guitar or the piano, with a band, you know, as simple as it can be."

Bob Rose: "I think that Julian, John Lennon's son or not, has a lot to give. He is a great person and a great musical talent. I hope that people will understand more in the future what Julian on his own has to give. That'd be great !"

Clip from the Live concert from Mainz, Germany - "STAND BY ME"