I recently had the privilege to listen to Julian Lennon's first album in 15 years titled Everything Changes (Music from Another Room). It is exquisitely soulful, and brilliantly arranged with a quality of intimacy and thoughtfulness that captures lyrically a wide range of songs including themes of romance, love, deep introspection, and global humanitarian concerns. After reviewing the CD I spoke with Julian to discuss his insights and creative process in making the album.
RA: Julian you open the new album with Everything Changes and immediately set the tone for a spiritually oriented theme. This is clearly your most vulnerable and sophisticatedly accessible adult pop work to date and indicates your own level of maturity and development as a soulful songwriter. Tell me about the creative process that went into making the album.
JL: Thank you Dr. Ron. I'm very pleased that you like the album so much. It's been a real labor of love for me this past decade. While working on the songs a lot of my friends in the music business dropped by and I found myself saying, "Hey listen to this. What do you think of it?" I find this collaborative process of having other talented and artistically oriented individuals listen and respond to my songs as I am shaping both the lyrics and the musical arrangements crucial to my creative process.
RA: What song on the album is most important to you?
JL: Well, I love so many of the songs such as Looking 4 Luv, and Someday, but I would have to say Everything Changes as it captures and expresses so much of how I feel about how we are all changing -- our lives, the planet, our relationships - they are changing. I've had to deal with a lot of feelings and emotions throughout my life. This track really expresses the sense that we all change, everything is in constant flux and we are all responsible in a greater way for our lives, the planet, and what happens to it all.
RA: I especially enjoyed listening to the blend of Eastern and World Beat influences of Someday. Given your connection to one of Rock n Roll's iconic bands did their interest in meditation and eastern spirituality influenced you as a musician?
JL: Well I don't meditate in any formal way but I often lie in bed or find myself in nature and enter into that state of quiet where I get images, feelings, or melodies. I can be doing anything or be anywhere and if I'm open to that creative current it all starts to flow.
RA: So do you think everyone has the potential to be creative or is it a gift or a karmic blessing?
JL: Well I think everyone has the potential to be creative but they have to find the avenue or avenues that work for them. Then they have to put the time and effort into developing it. Of course with my background I've had the benefit to being around the creative process most of my life.
RA: Is the artistic process of making music something that comes easily for you? Singer, songwriter, and Zen poet Leonard Cohen said he can work on a line or two of a song for days, weeks or months before he feels it's done. Your father, John was famous for being a perfectionist, saying he hated his songs and wished he could redo most of them!
JL: Oh yes, I really have to work at the process. It takes a tremendous amount of sweat and I can be perfectionist as well. Remember, for me my work is always being compared to my heritage. It has been quite a challenge unto itself just to drop into my voice and develop my individuated sound. So with this record I took the time to let the whole creative process of new ideas, images, feelings and sounds unfold naturally.
RA: You start the song Someday with the Beatles lyric "How does it feel to be one of those beautiful people" and then move into a brilliant arrangement combining your own lyrics. Was this intentional on your part?
JL: Well it was actually quite more magical than that. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) had just finished his vocals on the album and was about to leave when I mentioned to my associate, "Why don't we start with 'How does it feel to be one of those beautiful people'." We then approached Steven to ask his opinion when he blurted out the exact same suggestion. In this moment I had the sense we were in that spiritual creative zone where things just happen. No one is pushing anything; it's all part of a greater flow.
RA: Who are you current peers that you drawn inspiration or influence from?
JL: Well as I said over the years both with my music and photography (another one of my avenues for creative expression) I've come to know many of the artists in the biz from the guys in U2, to my brother Sean, and so many others. On this album folks like Steven Tyler sat in on some vocals and I collaborated with musician/producer Peter Vettese, singer-songwriter Paul Buchanan of Blue Nile, legendary songwriter Mark Spiro, and singer/producer/composer Tim Ellis. As well longtime friends Gregory Darling, Justin Clayton, Guy Pratt, and Grant Ransom produced the album with me. So I really had some wonderful and gifted artists help shape and influence the work.
RA: Thank you Julian for sharing your creative process. When artists enter what I call the 'Peak Experience' they feel a sense of the numinous, a transcendent oneness where something unique, and magical happens. In this creative zone music is downloaded into a musician who becomes a receptive vehicle. When this occurs there is this other worldly sense that something very special is happening and all one needs to do is get the personal self out of the way and enter into what I refer to in my book Wise Mind Open Mind as a state of receptive Open Mind.
Everyone can experience this creative flow especially with the art and practice of mindfulness meditation. It all starts with just 10 minutes once or twice a day of closing your eyes, breathing in and out and watching with wonder and joy how your inner core of gold unfolds. Now step into your mindful creativity and enjoy the Magical Mystery ride!
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