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Julian Lennon

Associated Press

New album, new outlook Julian Lennon 's "Help Yourself'
reflects personal story of recovery

By MARY CAMPBELL - 12/03/91


NEW YORK -- Julian Lennon, one of rock's most famous sons, knew that going into music wouldn't be easy.

People listened to his first album, released when he was 21, because of who he was. But critics told him he was no John Lennon , and he became both bitter and insecure. He was naive about the business. He slipped into abusing alcohol and drugs. Sales fell progressively on his second and third albums.

Now he says he's learned how to deal with it, and he wants to tell others who have dug themselves into a hole that there is a way out: "Help yourself." It's the name of his new, fourth album on Atlantic Records, and it reflects his new outlook on life.

A big part of helping yourself, Lennon says, is being yourself.

"I had plenty of being called an amateur in the past," he says. "I tended to listen to critics, which really screwed me up. I sort of lost my self-esteem and everything else in there."

He released his first album, Valotte, in 1984, four years after his ex-Beatle father was shot to death. Some critics jumped on it, but the album sold platinum (a million copies) and he went on a concert tour.

But The Secret Value of Daydreaming in 1986 only went gold (500,000 copies), and Lennon began his personal slide.

"I really did trash myself," he says. "I lost faith in everybody I was working with. I was depending on everybody. I felt they all let me down. I didn't think they were interested in me as a person. I was young, naive and gullible.

"They just got what they wanted out of me and left me to the wayside to a degree. After the second album, I said, 'Where's all these friends I'm supposed to have here?' "

In 1987, he says, he took refuge in drugs and alcohol.

"When I looked in the mirror one day, I looked like I was going to die. I said, 'What's going on? I can't allow this. Why am I feeling this way? Why have I let these people affect me? I'm even putting myself down for being who I am.' "

"I pushed myself way back," he says. "No one else was going to do it for me. If I wanted to push ahead personally or business wise, then I had to get out there and make my own changes."

Lennon says he found some enlightenment from trying psychotherapy for about a month, but thought he could work out his problems on his own. "I'd get a piece of paper and write good things about life and bad. I'd work one problem out after another."

He made a third album, Mr. Jordan, in 1989, allowing himself a little influence from the Beatles.

On Help Yourself, Lennon says, "I finally decided that I have to allow myself to be myself, which includes having those influences which are quite a big part of my life."

The first song he wrote for the album was Listen, its first single. "I was angry at everything and myself because I had been so ignorant about so many things."

Rebel King, he says, is about shooting down a kind of rebel inside himself. "Before this album I was a very shy person, very bitter and angry, with a smile on the outside. It was this insecurity I've called a rebel.

"Any time I started to become happy in life, something inside of me would say that I can't have a good life; this is too good for me. I'm teaching myself, yes, I can have a good life."

He wrote the song Help Yourself last and said he found it easy: "I had sorted things out by then.

"To help yourself you've got to keep hope alive, follow that dream, keep pushing and don't give up. You must do that or the world is going to swallow you up. That's why the album was titled Help Yourself. It shows I'm still here and pulled myself through this. It can happen to you."

Lennon says there was one down side to the intensity of creating those songs -- he and his girlfriend split for four months. He says he learned from that, too.

"Making the album, I was more married to (producer) Bob Ezrin than to my girlfriend," he says. "Because of the pressure I was putting on myself to try to do my best, I was losing touch with what the most important thing is. That's having someone you love, having a partner in life."