Julian Lennon – Valotte

When I first heard this on the radio I thought it was a John Lennon song. Julian’s voice is different but can be very similar to John. 

This was Julian’s first single in the US and his second in the UK. His next American single, “Too Late for Goodbyes,” fared even better, going to #5 in the Billboard 100.

Julian recorded this at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, which was located along the Tennessee River in Sheffield, Alabama.Jimmy Johnson who was one of the studio owners, Lennon’s lyric “Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar” was inspired by his time there.

Valotte peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 and #9 in Canada.

The great director Sam Peckinpah directed Julian’s first two movies.

Julian Lennon: “The place where that was written, which was actually a beautiful little run-down chateau in the middle of France, which is where the label at the time decided was a good place to send their artists to work out their writing skills. I know that Thomas Dolby had been down there and a few other high-end acts at that point in time.

It was just a really tranquil, beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere, where one could get a little lonely, I guess. The song initially came from that idea of just being in this beautiful landscape and dreaming of the idea that if you found that love of your life, this is something that you’d aspire to. It’s as simple as that, really.”

 

From Songfacts

The album was dedicated to “My mother Cynthia and to my Father.” Julian is John Lennon’s first son. His mother is Cynthia Lennon, who John was married to before Yoko (they had a son named Sean). Julian sounds a lot like his dad, and a lot of people were surprised to learn it was not a John Lennon song when they first heard it.

On “Valotte,” Lennon was backed by bass player David Hood, and keyboard player Barry Beckett, and drummer Roger Hawkins, who were the other owners of the studio.

The album was mixed at The Hit Factory recording studio in New York City on the same console John Lennon used to record the album Double Fantasy.

Most Americans got their first look at Julian Lennon on MTV, which gave his clips consistent airplay. In the UK, he often appeared in the gossip press, but his interviews to promote the Valotte album gave the first real insights into his personality and his feelings toward his dad. In these early interviews, he stressed that he was forming his own identity, and in no way trying to emulate his father’s music. He also spent a lot of time disproving the notion that he was a coddled rich kid; he went to public schools and did not receive money from John Lennon’s estate until he was older.

As for the question of how he felt toward his dad, Julian explained that he was proud of his dad’s work, but it was very difficult growing up with an absent father. In his first Melody Maker interview, he said, “I always had something against him, but I never knew what it was… apart from him leaving home and all that. It was because I went to visit him but he never came to visit me. That’s the only thing that got me.”

Justin Clayton and Carlton Morales, who played guitar on the album, co-wrote this song with Lennon.

Valotte

Sitting on the doorstep of the house I can’t afford
I can feel you there
Thinking of a reason, well, it’s really not very hard
to love you even though you nearly lost my heart
How can I explain the meaning of our love
It fits so tight, closer than a glove

[ Chorus ]

Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar
Wonderin’ if we’re really ever gonna get that far
Do you know there’s something wrong
‘Cause I’ve felt it all along

I can see you face in the mirrors of my mind
Will you still be there
We’re really not so clever as we seem to think we are
We’ve always got our troubles
So we’ll solve them at the bar
The days go by, we seem to drift apart
If I could only find a way to keep hold of your heart

[ Repeat chorus ]

Sitting in the valley as I watch the sun go down
I can see you there
Thinking of a reason, well, it’s really not very hard
to love you though you nearly lost my heart
When will we know when the change is gonna come
I’ve got a good feeling and it’s coming from the sun

Sitting on a pebble by the river playing guitar
Wonderin’ if we’re really ever gonna get that far
Do you know there’s something wrong
We’ll stick together ’cause we’re strong

 

Julian Lennon – I Don’t Wanna Know —-Powerpop Friday

This is probably the song that a lot of Beatles fans have been waiting for me to do.

This song was on the Photograph Smile album that was released in 1998. Personally, I like this song and Day after Day better than anything in his career. The song didn’t chart in the US but it did receive some airplay.

The video Julian made was a fun parody of the Beatles…as “The Butlers.” Julian did the song  in a Beatle style and turned it into a homage to them

Julian Lennon:

This is probably the song that a lot of Beatles fans have been waiting for me to do. People are always asking when am I going to do something more towards the Beatles style. And so I thought, why not? In a sense it’s a homage, but the sentiment and lyrics are serious. It actually came about from walking around in France and there was a shop with an English newspaper. I thought, ‘Oh get the paper, catch up on the rest of the world,’ and then I thought, ‘I don’t wanna know.’ It turned into a relationship song.

I Don’t Wanna Wanna Know

I don’t wanna know what’s going on
And I don’t wanna know what’s right or wrong
And I don’t wanna know who’s bed you’re in
And I don’t wanna know just where you’ve been.

Oh baby, you were never really good for me

Just maybe, you’re a stranger to reality
And baby, don’t you know you haven’t got a clue
‘cos lately, I don’t know what to do.

I don’t wanna know what’s going on
And I don’t wanna know what’s right or wrong
And I don’t wanna know who’s bed you’re in
And I don’t wanna know just where you’ve been.

Oh baby, you said you’re changing for the better now
Just maybe, you’re not as strong as you thought somehow
And baby, you know you’re heading down a one way track
And baby, I won’t bring you back.

Well, you said you were looking for a better way
But you just keep coming back
To a place you can never seem to get away
That will always hold you back…

Oh baby, you said you’d rather be a daddy’s girl,
But lately, you’re try’n a fight against the whole wide world
Just maybe, you’ve found a love that you can hold on to
And baby, I pray for you.

I don’t wanna know what’s going on
And I don’t wanna know what’s right or wrong
And I don’t wanna know who’s bed you’re in
And I don’t wanna know just where you’ve been…

Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll 1987

This documentary starts off in 1986 with Chuck Berry reminiscing about the Cosmopolitan Club where he played in the earlier days.

The film is centered around Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday and Keith Richards assembling an All-Star Band to support Chuck in concert. Chuck had been touring since the 60s by traveling town to town and playing with any pickup band he found…all he brought was his guitar. He would get paid with cash in a paper bag in many places. That was his motivation more than playing with a good band. Chuck could be very sloppy playing live.

Chuck could also be difficult, to say the least. Keith was determined that Chuck was going to be backed by a great band for this concert… Chuck was Keith’s idol but Chuck seemed to want to give Keith as much trouble as possible. Richards says in the documentary that Chuck was the only man that hit him that he didn’t hit back. During the rehearsals for the song “Carol”, you can feel the tension in the air between the two.

Seeing Keith’s reaction to Chuck at times is worth the price of admission and I’m glad Keith was persistent and patient and got this done. It’s great footage of Chuck playing his classics.

The concert at the Fox Theatre ended up a success. Chuck sounded great and so did the band.

During the documentary, there are some great comments by Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Dixon and more.

Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and Chuck have a very interesting conversation about how hard it was to get played on the radio because of being African American in the 50s. They also talk about payola and Alan Freed.

The band was incredible… Keith Richards, Robert Cray, the great Johnnie Johnson (Chuck’s original piano player), Steve Jordan, Bobby Keys, Chuck Leavell and Eric Clapton guests on a few songs.

Some of the artists that came on and sang were Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Julian Lennon.

Chuck was a complicated man but he was a poet as well. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. If you are a music fan you should like it. Chuck Berry may have influenced Rock and Roll more than anyone else…

My favorite story is from Bruce Springsteen. Bruce and the E Street Band volunteered to back up Chuck Berry for a show in the early seventies. Being Chuck’s temporarily pickup band must have been nerve-wracking for musicians. Chuck didn’t tell them what songs he was playing or what key…this is Bruce’s quote “About five minutes before the show was timed to start, the back door opens and he comes in. He’s by himself. He’s got a guitar case, and that was it,” Springsteen said. “[I said] ‘Chuck, what songs are we going to do?’ He says, ‘Well, we’re going to do some Chuck Berry songs.’ That was all he said!”

Below is the video…not extremely clear but watchable.