We met singer and author Julian Lennon when he was in Manhattan recently. He just finished his book “Love the Earth,” the last in his “White Feather Flier” trilogy, and we talked to him about that and his career as a photographer and musician.
Q: Was one of your life goals to write a book series?
A: No, not at all. Four years ago I didn’t have a clue. Actually, the co-writer, Bart (Davis), he was a dear friend of mine. He was a New York Times bestseller, so he’s written some incredible books. And we were talking about doing a biography on my life and what I’ve been up to. And as he was researching my life, he discovered the White Feather Foundation. And he said to me, you love the work that you do, but what about the kids? And I said, what do you mean? He said, you haven’t done anything directed specifically towards kids. And I said, well, you know I taught them music. Perhaps photography to some degree, I had some reach. But then we talked further, and we came up with the idea of doing the children’s books.
We talked about —rather than just doing one, let’s have a bit of a journey with the concept. And then it took a year each time to write each book because you want to make sure that when you’re writing, you want to say things in the right way so that things aren’t misconstrued or misunderstood.
Q: When you were younger, was writing always your dream job, and what age did you start writing?
A: I guess writing to me came in the form of writing lyrics for music. That was a version of poetry —it’s a version of storytelling. I think most of the things that I’ve done in life are versions of storytelling, whether it’s through music, whether it’s through documentaries I’ve made, whether it’s through books.
Q: What do you like to do most in your spare time?
A: I love to travel. Whether it’s for work or for otherwise, I think seeing such diverse cultures around the world, meeting such incredible people that do so many different things around the world, that’s one of my favorite things to do. And if I can’t do that, then I love to power-walk through cities and take pictures as a photographer. I like motorcycles. I’m a biker. I have been since I was 11 years old. If the weather is OK, I’ll get on a bike and just drive and go places I’ve never been before. You know, just open a map and go. And discover along the way —that’s part of the glory, of the journey. Those are my favorite things to do.
Q: If you had to choose between a writer or a musician, which would you choose?
A: I don’t like the concept of being pigeonholed in any way, shape or form. I would fight against that in every way. For me it’s about freedom of expression in every way possible. So, if you want to be a painter, you want to be a photographer, singer, musician, or writer, director, you should go for it all.
Q: Is it harder writing a book or dealing with your fame?
A: Well, I’m pretty low-key on the fame front. I’ve learned over the years to deal with whatever consequences I’m confronted with in regards to being a public person. I try not to do the fame thing. It’s not important to me. To me it’s about being an artist and true to myself. So I don’t have any problems with that. I think writing is probably, again, harder just getting it right. Getting it right and getting what you want to say across in the best way possible.
Q: Do you prefer being in the United States or England?
A: I prefer everywhere. I grew up in England until I was about 20 years old and then I moved to America. I lived in New York. I’ve lived in Los Angeles. I now live in France in a place called Monaco. I feel fortunate that my work carries me all over the world, whether that’s America, Europe and/or Asia. It’s nice to go home to where you live, where you have a home, but I love to see the world. There is no favorite except my own bed. There’s nothing like getting back into your own bed after long, long travels.
Q: Is it true you were an inspiration for some of the Beatles’ songs?
A: Apparently, I was. There’s a few songs out there, but the main one being “Hey Jude.” Paul McCartney, my father’s writing partner, when my father separated from my mother —that’s another story —he felt sorry for me and my mom, so he wrote, originally it was “Hey Jules.” Which is why my nickname is Jules. But it didn’t rhyme so well, so “Hey Jude” worked better for him. And yeah, I think I’ve heard that song more than probably anybody else in the world. But still thankful, you know.
Q: Do you sing in the shower, and if you do, do you wish that you could write in the shower?
A: Write in the shower? I think there are waterproof pens and things, work boards and things out there. Actually, I don’t sing in the shower. But often ideas come to me in the shower. So if the phone is nearby with a voice recorder on it, I’ll jump out of the shower just to put something in there, whether it’s a musical idea or a lyrical idea or even a project idea. Why not?
Q: In the past you worked with Bart Davis. Do you plan to work with Bart in the future?
A: I think so. Again, the whole reason he and I started writing was initially to write a biography about my life so far. So that is probably in the cards. But there are other projects, I’m sure.
Q: What is your next project going to be?
A: I’ve got some music and photography projects coming up. In fact, one of the main projects coming up is that Bart and I are trying to get the book series made into an animated TV series. Once I’ve done the promotional book tour in L.A., I’ve got meetings with the likes of Apple, Disney and all of those guys to bring that to life. So, fingers crossed on that one, but that’s one of the main next projects.