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9 Apr 2014

Celebrating 30 years of AllSongsList. My Tribute to the Most Rellevant Eltonites: now, Claude Bernardin (part One)

8. Claude Bernardin


Landscape Realist, paints in the Brandywine ( Wyeth ) tradition. First watercolor painted in 1971. Graduated Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. in 1980 with a B.F. A.

A Lifelong Teacher/Instructor since 1980. Currently teaching in the Philadelphia Archdiocese School system. Has taught both adult and High school level courses. Married with one child, Andrew Johns, ( age 26 ), a singer songwriter and performer. His band is, released a new studio album in 2013 entitled, “Coast”. Mr. Claude W. Bernardin, started his professional career As a Watercolorist, in 1976. He has exhibited throughout The Eastern Coast of America, most prominently in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. However his Works have been on exhibit in Italy, Hawaii, England, Ireland And Canada. 

He has designed theatre set pieces, stained glass windows, Album Art, T shirts, Hats, Tattoos, posters and much more. He is known for his landscapes of sunsets and rural farm scenes. Bernardin credits Elton John’s music and Taupin’s words as a major influence in his Art work, and has listened to it as he paints, since 1971. His works are in numerous prominent and private collections, Most notably Elton John. He has won numerous awards, including The Washington Camp Cup, from Valley Forge Historical Society, A Lifetime achievement award, A Senatorial Citation for his service To the Arts in his community, and the President’s award at Salmagundi Arts Club, Manhattan, N.Y. He is a prolific painter, and has been known To paint as many as 50 watercolors in one month. He is planning a large exhibit of over 100 works in the near future. He also adds to his Creative Credits: Poetry, Lyric writer, and Photographer. He has been married to Kathleen Yentz since 1984. His artistic influences are: Andrew Wyeth, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and numerous other artists.

Most recent project: 

A new endeavor, and is Very thrilling! Since July of 2013, Claude has been co-writing an album Of songs, as Lyricist with singer/songwriter, piano player, and Elton John impersonator, Jerred D. Price. Price is 25 and an amazing talented songwriter and performer. They are both VERY excited about the product, And the album is now more than half finished ( so far 12 tracks demoed, 8 selected). Working title: “The Inside Out Of Something”. Tracks include: “Jetblack Wall”, “Mary Shelley’s Gone To Heaven”, the title cut, and “You Ain’t Got Nothin’ If You Ain’t Got The Truth”

The Inside Out Of Something
Lyric: Claude Bernardin, 1/24/14

Somedays it’s like a blanket
Covering me
I’m up, I’m down, but so afraid
To breath
Living day to day
With obstacles to climb
Can’t seem to get around these
Knife edge corners of my mind

( Chorus: )
Oh, turn it over
Look inside
Maybe you can find a place to hide
Anything you want is everything you need
Oh, I’m searching for the inside of something…
Wrong with me

Sometimes there’s not a cloud
Up in the sky
I dream I’m free, I watch the world
Eyes wide
Standing on the edge
Of all this pain I find
Can’t seem to shake these shadows
Having second thoughts in time

( Chorus: )
Oh, turn it over
Look inside
Maybe you can find a place to hide
Anything you want is everything you need
Oh, I’m searching for the inside of something…
Wrong with me

( The Bridge: )
Don’t give a dam
That you can plan
Your life so remarkably
I’m still searching for the inside out of something wrong with me
I cast a reflection in the water
Can’t you see…Oh, can’t you see?
I know you’re frustrated
But you changed so easily

( Chorus: )
Oh, turn it over
Look inside
Maybe you can find a place to hide
Anything you want is everything you need
Oh, I’m searching for the inside of something…
Wrong with me

( Chorus: )
Oh, turn it over
Look inside
Maybe you can find a place to hide
Anything you want is everything you need
Oh, I’m searching for the inside of something…
Wrong with me
I’m searching for the inside of something

A Top Eltonite, in 1995, he co-Authored a book on rock star Elton John, entitled, “Rocket Man: The Music of Elton John A to Z”: "My First personal Elton John experience surrounds the moment I received the Elton John album in 1970. The first Elton song I ever heard, was “Border Song”" explains. And the story continues: "I was eating dinner with my older brother and older sister, and he said to me, “Hey have you heard a song by this guy called Elton John”? I said” “No why?” And he said: “Oh, it’s really a cool song, he plays piano….very soulful….listen to the radio…you’ll hear it, it’s getting a lot of airplay…” So I did, and a day or so later, I heard it and told him, “Yeah, it’s a great track! I’d like to get that album!” My sister said, “Well wait, I asked my boyfriend to get it for me, you can listen to it and decide if you like it…”

So a few weeks went by, it was maybe early October. About 8 or 9 one evening, I was in the dining room, and my sister walked in the door, and was crying. She had this rather black looking album under her arm….and she said: “I just broke up with my boyfriend, and …..HERE! He gave this to me…I don’t want it…you take it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  and she threw it across the table, and it slid into my lap. I picked it up, glanced at his face, saw the name, thought: “Hmmm rather dark, dreary cover…” But said, “Ok, sure! Thanks! Sorry it had to happen”.

Next day I got up to an empty house. Ate breakfast, and it was chores time. I began cleaning and straightening up the downstairs. I would later vacuum. I always listened to some album while I did chores. Playing it on the living room stereo, speakers in the ceiling. I had it cranked up pretty high.

And this wall of sound began!!!!!!!"

First song up,

“Your Song” :

….and the piano danced out of the speakers, then this lush string arrangement poured forth, and this voice, this infectious, lovely, deep, soulful voice with a strange accent. He sounded sort of American, but also British. It was different, and then there was that rolling …line…”I hope you don’t Mind! I hope you don’t mind…!”  It was lovely from the clicky drum track, to the poetic ….moss on the roof and the sun being quite kind, to the folk guitar frills, and plucking cello strings. I was hooked! Best song I’d heard from anyone since “Let It Be”. This song had classic written all over it from the moment I heard it and was instantly in my top five! That line would later annoy my Father, because he would grow weary of hearing the song played so much in his house, that he’d shout from the dining room….”I hope you don’t mind…I hope you don’t mind…Hey Elton! I mind …ok? “  J

I Need You To Turn Too:

This odd sounding instrument begins playing, sounding like something from John Lennon, and then in comes this guy’s voice, but it’s different, sadder, softer, less emotional, and yet the lyrics and melody are HUGE! “You’re not a ship to carry my life, you are nailed to my love in many lonely nights….” WOW! The images in the song just hit me like a ton of a bricks. And that chorus…..I heard so many other singer songwriters in it, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, John Lennon, and I loved the song. I recall later in 1976, this song was still in my top four songs from the album, my tastes have changed since. It was lovely. And I was becoming hooked.

I have always loved the line: “I strayed from the cottages and found myself here, Oh, but I need your love, your love protects my feelings…” 

And there it was again, this lovely counter cello melody, and I was hooked….

“Your pure and your gentle with the grace of a dove” , exactly what the lyric said it was…. I was done, another classic.

Take Me To The Pilot:

Ok now we’re talkin, this guy’s rockin it! I loved the song’s beat! And man was it funky! I hadn’t a clue what the hell he was singing about, but I really didn’t care…the chorus hook…Na , Na, …..I mean who couldn’t sing that? !!! As the next few years would roll along, I left the song behind on my favorites list, it was replaced by Madman or Criminal, but I always have a soft spot in my heart for the studio version, especially when I hear his voice crack slightly on “Take me”  J Not his best studio vocal ever, but the song does rock! The tone of his voice is wild, very different than anything before or after. I loved how the orchestra flies in suddenly….just before the chorus! The drums on the track always got me, great drumming! Great strings on the second verse and chorus! I heard this one on the radio on FM rock far too much. They wore it out for me.

No Shoestrings on Louise:

I was in love from the second he changed his voice into Mick Jagger, shit kicker! That country twang was great! The steel guitar work, the backing vocals, the chorus, and when he sings…There ain’t NO!!!!!!!!!shoestrings…..on Louise….and that piano…it was everywhere. My favorite moment was when he belted out….”On a swiiiine HERD!” It remains one of my personal favorite tracks on the album, and makes me tap my fingers and smile everytime I hear it. Also loved his inflections…like the half laugh  and “MEEE I”….and all the Yeahs…..Reminded me of Ray Charles and Stones. Loved it, still do. Played it to death that first week!

First Episode AtHienton:

The song that sealed my fate forever. By the time it was done I too was in love with Valerie. What guy of 1970, didn’t want to chase his girlfriend through the castle ruins, even John Wayne had done it in the “Quiet Man”. It is one of the most romantic songs I had ever heard in my life. And then as he sings “For the quadrangle sang, and that synth comes in …”Underneath the ceiling…” and it fades out up high like ethereal Angels…..O My gosh! One word for that song: “GORGEOUS!”

The sadness of his voice in: “The songs still are sung….it was fun to be young….but please don’t decide where you are…” WOW!!! This lyricist was a Poet, maybe he didn’t know it! But he was!!!!! And they both could write one hell of a song. It remains in my top five off the album forever. And it’s the song that made me a True Elton John fan.

Sixty Years On:

I was done! From the moment the bees started in the strings, I was an Elton John fan for life.

The harp and the song itself were instantly in my mind forever. The song is still my number two favorite song on the album. And still remains in my top ten Elton John songs of all time. I would later discover the brilliant dramatic re-read of it on 11/17/70. And fall in love with it again. Then in 1976 while watching Edinboro Solo on TV in September, fall in love with it once again.

The song is brilliant! And even though I now realize both Hienton and Sixty are mere youthful attempts at mimicking the sound and styles of Leonard Cohen, no Cohen song has ever EVER affected me like those two songs back to back did in 1970, changing my life forever!

I wore them out! Played them constantly! Until family members screamed stop!!!!!! But I couldn’t , just moved it upstairs and into my bedroom.

Border Song:

Ah the radio song! I was on to it already, and for years it was a favorite. Today, it has moved out of my top lists. Sadly. But I will all cherish it like a long lost friend. One thing it showed was this guy could write a song of the style and likes of Simon and Garfunkle and McCartney and Lennon, and that’s what I heard loud and clear in this track.

The Greatest Discovery:

It was like the most lovely classical music I’d ever heard before. It was lovely. I was hearing the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper’s, “She’s Leaving Home” and saying to myself…..”Nope….it’s better than that track!!!!!!!”. Wonderful words, wonderful music. My brother ( the musician in the house  J  …) and I would argue for decades on the worth of this track.

He always felt it was far too overly dramatic….and corny….I loved it, and my Older sister Claire, who I respected and Loved, agreed with me. It was always her favorite song.
Again today, it has sadly moved down the list for me, but I do return to it, like a wonderfully faded family photo album, just to smile. “This is your brand new brother…..”

The Cage:

Ah Ha Woo WOO! Loved it! His second Stones track on the album, and yet somehow he rocked tighter than the Stones. I often would later wonder why this didn’t get released as a single? Loved the synth solo break in the middle as well. Fun track!

The King Must Die:

My Fourth favorite song on the album, and it has remained high up on my lists of favorite Elton tracks. Back then it was in my top three! I couldn’t get enough of its drama! I could write two pages on this soaring anthem! I’ll just say this…Joel has his “Angry Young Man”, Elton has his “King Must Die”. I prefer King Must Die.

And Taupin’s opening lines remain some of his best: “No man’s a Jester playing Shakespeare.” I know to them ( The songwriters ) they see it as pretentious today. Perhaps it is, but back then it was a life changing musical experience for a kid who’d just said goodbye to the 1960’s and the Beatles and was hoping for some great music of his own to love and cherish…and so I did take his word and go…to the store…every six months to buy the next new latest Elton John record for the next six years and eventually for a lifetime! I could get it down to the strings, the piano, the drums….some of the best musicianship ever laid down in a studio. And what makes me sad?, I never once mentioned how Brilliant Gus Dudgeon was in producing it all! I played this song to death for years, wore out albums and had to buy it over and over again.

Life changing albums like this hardly ever come along. It remains a Huge part of my life. And to hear those songs live with a full orchestra and choir, at Radio City Music Hall, remains as one of the greatest concert experience of my life.

Yes I admit ratings wise, today, it is hard to place it in my top ten up against such albums as Yellow Brick Road, but without this one……I won’t even go there!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Rocket Man"
Watercolor by Claude W. Bernardin
All Image rights reserved by the artist, Copyright 2010

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