Elton John published his long-awaited autobiography, Me, today (October 15th). The book was co-written by Alexis Petridis, and covers all aspects of the 72-year-old rock legend’s life and career. Some of Elton’s more famous friends and fans submitted questions to The Guardian about Elton’s songs with Bernie Taupin, with none other than Bob Dylan posing a very specific question to the “Rocket Man.”
Dylan asked: “In the song ‘Tiny Dancer,’ did you work your way up to the cathartic chorus gradually, spontaneously, or did you have it thought out from the start?”
Elton answered, “This is a very good question. ‘Tiny Dancer’ has a really long lyric, a very cinematic, California-in-the-early-70s lyric, so it had two verses and a middle eight before it even gets to the chorus, and it lent itself to a long buildup. The middle eight sets it up well, then it slows down for a moment — ‘when I say softly, slowly. . . ‘ That line suggested a big chorus. I don’t remember much about writing it, but I do remember trying to make it sound as Californian as possible. Writing a song like that’s a bit like having a w***, really. You want the climax to be good, but you don’t want it to be over too quickly — you want to work your way up to it. Bernie’s lyric took such a long time to get to the chorus, I thought, ‘F***, the chorus had better be something special when it finally arrives.’ And it’s ‘here I come.’ literally.”
Elton John spoke about how the big screen provided a second life for “Tiny Dancer”: [“‘Tiny Dancer’ is one of my favorite Elton John / Bernie Taupin songs — and from one of my favorite albums, Madman Across The Water. And it was written about Bernie’s first wife, Maxine. I’ve always played it on and off, y’know, throughout my career, and obviously with the film, Almost Famous, which Cameron Crowe made. I mean, there was this great sequence and ‘Tiny Dancer’ featured very heavily in it. It came as a renaissance for the song and for my music to people who hadn’t really heard. . . young kids who hadn’t really Elton John before.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . Elton John before)
Elton John admits that although he ultimately has no regrets about how he lived his life early on, he’s far happier since becoming sober and falling in love 25 years ago: [“I’m glad that I lived my rock star years, because it made me appreciate now what I shouldn’t be doing. When I was younger I did everything I possibly could and I had a great time. I took it too far and didn’t know when to stop. But the good thing is that life since 1990 has been all about trying to grow up, trying to see things from a different perspective — listening. And I was lucky to find my partner and that’s been the saving grace of my life, as well.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . life as well)
In the new memoir, Elton talks about the scores of musicians and celebrities he’s know over the years, and spoke frankly about the “King of Pop” himself — Michael Jackson. Elton wrote: “I’d known Michael since he was 13 or 14. He was just the most adorable kid you could imagine. But at some point in the intervening years, he started sequestering himself away from the world, and away from reality the way Elvis Presley did. God knows what was going on in his head, and God knows what prescription drugs he was being pumped full of, but every time I saw him in his later years I came away thinking the poor guy had totally lost his marbles. I don’t mean that in the light-hearted way. He was genuinely mentally ill, a disturbing person to be around.”
Elton caught Elvis Presley in concert at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Centre just over a year before his death and after meeting the man, he walked away traumatized by the state his hero was in: [“‘Meet’ would probably be an extravagant word. I shook hands with him backstage at a concert in Washington. My mother was there and it was very sad. And I thought, y’know, maybe even during the performance. . . I thought there might be (laughs). . . It was so, really tragic. I mean, really. . . so heavy — there was no eyes there. And yet he still had the most incredible charisma and magic, even though he was like a zombie before. But to meet him — even to see him was a great honor.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . a great honor)
Elton John admitted that his over-the-top persona — both on and off the stage — during the 1970’s and ’80s was often a mask for his admitted low self esteem: [“When I was drinking and doing drugs, you become completely ridiculous. I mean, you become self-obsessed, your values go completely out the window. Y’know, you don’t like the color of the wallpaper on the plane, or the way it’s done, you don’t like the color of the furniture in the hotel room — it’s all that absolute nonsense. Like all entertainers, they’re very comfortable on the stage, off the stage, I didn’t really. . . I was still the young boy from Pinner, who was just kinda insecure, a little overweight, and, y’know, had an inferiority complex. I just showed off on stage. All entertainers want to do is show off.”] SOUNDCUE (:28 OC: . . . is show off)
Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour continues on October 19th at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.
- Elton John published his long-awaited autobiography, Me, today (October 15th). The book was co-written by Alexis Petridis, and covers all aspects of the 72-year-old rock legend’s life and career.
- On Thursday night (October 17th) Elton John and Rocketman actor Taron Egerton will perform together on October 17th at L.A.’s Greek Theatre. The Hollywood Reporter posted that the pair will take part in an event featuring “the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra playing live-to-picture all the songs from the Rocketman film — scored by Matthew Margeson — under the direction of principal conductor John Beal. The film’s music producer Giles Martin will produce the music for the performance.” Presumably, Elton and Egerton will take the stage following the film.
- Elton John said in a statement, “I’m thrilled to debut Rocketman: Live in Concert. I can think of no better city than Los Angeles to bring the magic of this movie to life and perform live with the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra. I can’t wait for the audience to experience the film in a new and profound way.”