“I don’t actually remember doing the painting,” Julian Lennon admits. “But I certainly remember walking through the front gates of our house and actually showing Dad it and him saying, ‘What is that?'”
Lennon is, of course, referring to the legend behind one of his father’s most famous songs, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” the Beatles’ classic whose inspiration comes from a drawing by Julian. Despite John Lennon’s vividly psychedelic description of Lucy — “A girl with kaleidoscope eyes” — Julian’s is remarkably subdued: “the best you can draw a child-like character at the age of four.”
Lucy Vodden now has two songs written about her. The most recent — written over four decades after her first — is by co-songwriter James Cook and Julian Lennon himself. “I felt the boys had made a pretty penny from her so the least I could do was make sure she was okay, having to deal with lupus,” said Lennon, who, during the last two years, reconnected with his childhood friend until her death this past September. Coincidentally, the song is also about another Lucy, Cook’s grandmother, who also passed away from lupus. Though it celebrates the memory of the two Lucys, it also marks the return of Lennon’s decade long absence from music and the start of his own artist service company, theRevolution.
“A couple of years ago, I started writing again because, whether I like it or not, lyrics and ideas and melodies and tunes — whether they be in bits or as full songs — enter my head,” Lennon explains. “I got to get them out one way or another.” Twelve years since the release of Photograph Smile, Lennon has finally purged his mind for a new batch of tunes, the Lucy EP, out today. The EP, however, is only a small part of the purging. Lennon wrote “somewhere between 50 and 100” songs, narrowing it down to 12 for his upcoming album next year.
But what took so long? “I had had enough of the industry again and the people I was working with, so I just dropped out,” he states simply, “I had plenty of other interests in life.” During the hiatus, Lennon delved into art, photography, and produced Whale Dreamers, a documentary that won eight international awards. Lennon’s latest endeavor, theRevolution, taps Michael Birch (of Bebo fame) to help create an artist service company: “If this all this works for me, who is as cynical as it gets in regards to record labels and would never want to sign with anybody ever again . . . maybe it’ll work for other people too.”
The first song being offered by theRevolution is “Lucy,” a percentage of its profit going towards two Lupus charities. Despite Lucy’s recent death, the song is as innocent and hopeful as Lennon’s vision to secure musician’s rights. (“Turning the music business into the musician’s business” is theRevolution’s sales pitch.) “Lucy” is up-tempo, twinkling guitar lines sputtering around as Lennon and Cook exchange du-du-du’s and verses about five-year-old Lucy and her girlfriends playing in the park, sans the tangerine trees and marmalade skies. “The last thing I wanted to do was make it a ‘bring everybody down’ sad song.”
Photo Credit: Timothy White