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26 Apr 2009

AllSongslist is glad to welcome one of the greatest eltonites... from Illinois... the fantastic... David Hallstrom!!!!

Illinois is a special place for Elton. He has been there several times and Poplar Creek is a nice place... So I had to bring on an eltonite from there. I thought about him, who I really love his thoughts and comments about Elton and asked. He said yes. He's a member of the "EltonjohnAllSongsList Friends" in Facebook community too so... I am glad to have him here. Then, everybody, a big applause for a fantastic eltonite...

Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

David Hallstrom, Evanston, Illinois

Thank you! And when you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music?

Your Song was the first I heard; I was around 11 at the time of its release. Rocket Man was the first song I really recall being crazy about. Bought that and the Honky Cat and Daniel singles; Don't Shoot Me was the first album I bought. I evntually bought them all - on vinyl and CD.

Tough to say what moved me; after all, I was barely a teenager when I first bought an Elton record. But there was something about his music - and Bernie's lyrics - that really tocuhed me. Still does.

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And have you ever been in touch with him, or someone of his band?

I first saw Elton in 1976 at the Chicago Stadium, the summer between high school graduation and beginning university. That was a magic time, as Elton was at the top of his game, musically and I was begin that rapid change from child to adult. He opened with Grow Some Funk, played guitar on Love Song. Remember Hercules, Empty Sky and some other songs he doesn't do enough these days. And of course Kiki joined him for Don't Go Breaking My Heart.

Best guess as to how many times I have seen Elton: 12

During the Breaking Hearts tour, I was walking in to the Ritz-Carlton Chicago to meet a friend when Elton came out the door. I said hello and shook his hand and he got in a limo. That is the extent of my being in touch with Elton.

Caleb Quaye lived in Chicago between the breakup of Hookfoot and Rock of the Westies, playing guitar for Bill Quateman. Quateman was a regular at a music club I worked in while in high school, which allowed me the chance to meet Caleb once.

I am genetically a businessman - if I worked for Elton, my mind would be focused on sales, royalties, etc. I have met a few of his business associates over the years, only one of whom remains in Elton's employ.

Wow!!! Remember some anecdote going to see one of his shows? And, more than this... Which concert do you think now you should been there, for its rellevancy... for the particular show... for a funny costume he wore...?

I would have loved to have seen the Elton/Ray Cooper shows in the late 70s, but was away at university. His closest show was several hundred miles from the school and I couldn't get there.

Had always heard Madison Square Garden was the place to see him; saw him there once, for the Leather Jackets tour, when he was at the top of his drug use. That aside, Elton was more energized for the MSG show that he was for his Chicago show on that tour.

Right! Which is your Elton’s item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you’ve got to have it?

Signed Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy brown vinyl lp.

Nice!! Looking back the years, Elton and Bernie affronted different genres of music, from pure pop, to classic rock, country, reggae or disco... Which could be the secret of their worldwide success, because they made a classic song most every year? What part of Bernie is on Elton's success?

Elton's success is greatly based on his talent and the fact that he could not be pigeonholed. He is an incredibly gifted pianist, is superb at writing melodies and unparalleled in his ability to mimic all styles of music. He didn't fit the bill of rock star. He was not tall and skinny and handsome. In a way, it doesn't make sense, but there's something innate that worked.

Bernie is a fair part of Elton's success, perhaps more than half. The tunes are memorable, the early voice was beautiful, but without touching, memorable lyrics, Elton may have had a hit or two and then been done.

Ok!! Elton was a big star in the U.S. in the 70s, and in the U.K. did well. While “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was number 2 in the US, was number 16 in UK; while Elton had 7 consecutive number one albums in American charts, in the UK were only four? Other while, Elton had to expected to 1990 to have his first solo number one single in Britain. Why that difference? And could you still hear Elton’s music in the radio, nowadays?

I have always found this puzzling. Elton broke huge in America. But it took quite a while before he made it big at home. This may in part be due to Bernie's obsession with the American West, although that can't be all of it.

I heard Bennie and the Jets on the radio last night. I hear Elton's work from the 1970s and some of his 1980s hits on the radio with frequency, but really nothing after I Don't Want to go on with You Like That.

And what do you think about Gus Dudgeon, the producer? He was one of best producers Elton worked with? An other producers... which do you like most and what do you think about Elton self-producing? And what could we expect from the new producing team Mark Ronson – Elton John?

Gus Dudgeon was the perfect producer. He crafted Elton's sound. There is not a dud among the albums made with Gus. Each album is a perfect portrait of Elton the Artist at a fixed point. Each album had a theme and Gus crafted that theme well. He knew exactly the sound he wanted on each record before they entered the studio. No doubt, some things were left to in studio inspiration and artistry, but the structure of the albums were designed prior to arriving in the studio. They made a great combination.

Chris Thomas did solid work with his contributions to The Fox and Jump Up! and Sleeping With the Past. I don't hear a lot that Chris added to tjhes other efforts. Part of this may be Elton and the drugs, part of this may be the heavy hand of David Geffen. Maybe who was behind the board on those records wouldn't have mattered.

Greg Penny did a great job with Made in England. The structure of that album reminds me very much of a Gus production.

Am not a fan of Patrick Leonard's work. Songs from the West Coast sounds too much the same; the album lacks for variety in time and tempo.

Elton self-producing, at least the early efforts, were inconsistent. A Single Man isn't a very good album. There is some good work on 21 at 33, but not a full album's worth. The Elton/Clive Franks tracks on The Fox are their best work on an Elton record (Loving and Free is the best non-Elton work they did). Peachtree Road is better, but a lot of that is Matt Still's contribution. The Captain and the Kid is his best self-produced effort, but again, a lot of that credit goes to Matt Still.

Mark Ronson creates some nice organic albums. I hope for the best on their collaboration.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John’s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

Five is tough, but here goes:

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Come Down in Time

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I could go on for ever with an open question like this. I have been a fan for over 35 years and still get near giddy when I hear a new album is coming out. There are several artists I love - David Ackles, Little Feat, Kiki - whose work I would not know were it not for Elton. He helped to create a broad taste in music for me. I'm glad to have had the chance to watch his rise and continued career.

Thanks a bunch, David. Really a pleasure to chat with you again. I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience. Thank you. Take care.

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