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30 Mar 2008

Face To Face Interview

As all you know, this is the “Face To Face” Week, and we have two specials guests. I thought it would be nice to have a “face to face” interview with two of the best fans of both singers: Elton & Billy. The eltonite is GJEJ, well known for his posts on the forums and his knowledge about Elton’s world. The billy joel fan, is one of the greatest joelfan we could find: JFillow. Both have been at a Face To Face show, of course, and I am sure they have great experiences to join us.

So... Thank you both for the acceptation. First… Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?

GJEJ: Just a long time Elton (and Billy Joel!) fan from California.
J.Fillow: I am J.Fillow from was born and rased in Jersey moved to Atlanta when I was 12

Right. GJEJ... When you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music? And you, J.Fillow, when you became a Billy Joel’s fan? What moved you to buy his music?

GJEJ: I started liking Elton's music from hearing Your Song. I started buying his albums on a regular basis starting with Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player. Crocodile Rock has always been a sentimental favorite of mine. Never get tired of hearing that song. I have many of my EJ albums on my iPod. I listen to my iPod nearly 5 days a week and most of the time, I am listening to Elton. There's lots and lots of great music to choose from.

J.Fillow: LOL lets see if I can remember....I recall hearing Billy's We didn't start the fire on wjrz back in the day when they played rock music and thought the sound of the song was totally different from what I have heard from other artists at the time....what moved me to buy his music....I was quite young at the time so I wasn't able to comprehend the meaning/messages of the songs but it was the sounds of the music playing that captured me

Ok! Which are your favourite albums, GJEJ to recommend to J.Fillow, or the Elton’s must to have songs that should have been in an eltonite ipod? And viceversa, which Joel’s albums you J.Fillow recommend us and the must to heard Billy’s songs?

GJEJ: My favorite Elton John album is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, so I guess I'd recommend that album, along with Sleeping With The Past and The One.

J.Fillow: Well being that I am a die hard I could mention his lesser known songs (Nocturne, Streetlife, Serenade ect) however if a person is just getting into Billy's music I would recommend greatest hits volume I & II.

Nice!! GJEJ… What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And you, J.Fillow, what was it like to see Billy for the first time and, also, how many concerts have you been?

GJEJ: My first Elton concert was in 1982 at the beautiful Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. I was seated so far back, I could have reached up and touched the moon! I've come a long way since then as far as going to concerts and trying to get decent tickets at concerts. I've seen Elton over 30 times and I have two more concerts coming up in April, 2008.

J.Fillow: The first time seeing Billy was back in 2002 so seeing Billy at a F2F concert was the first I got a chance to see him solo in Atlanta back in 07 NOW THAT ROCKED!

Well, as you know this is the “Face to Face” Week. You both have been in an Elton & Billy show. What do you reminds of these shows? What surprised you, GJEJ from Billy that you didn’t know, and you, J.Fillow from Elton?

GJEJ: Being both an Elton and Billy Joel fan, what I can say about seeing these two in concert is that their set together is worth the price of admission. So much fun watching them perform together, even more so than solo. And the crowd loves it. We were all singing along to Hard Day's Night...seems like every single one of us was singing to the song. What great memories. Nothing Billy did surprised me, since I'd seen him many times in concert at his solo shows. In fact, I became a fan of Billy's in the late 70's, after I'd already been a fan of Elton's for several years, but it was Billy Joel who I saw first in concert!

J.Fillow: What surprised me...hmm well the fact that there were more people singing along and dancing to Elton's set then there were to Billy's set.

Perfect!! For both of you… Which song should covered Elton from Billy, and viceversa? Would you like the two singers to duet one time? A frenetic piano rock song or a ballad and,why?

GJEJ: Hmmm, it doesn't matter much to me which Billy Joel song Elton covers or vice versa, but I would love for these two to record an entire album! Billy's lyrics with Elton's melodies would be exciting to look forward to! And, if they only did one song together, it's gotta be a rock song! No ballads for this duo, please.

J.Fillow: For Billy Candle In the wind (1st version) For Elton...My Life as for a duet a ballad because it's not so frantic and the harmony would be better between the two if it were a ballad

Cause... Which, do you GJEJ think, should be next Elton step in his career? An album with new material? Find a producer for a new album? Do a cover versions like Rod Stewart did in his succesful series “Great American Songbook”? And you, J.Fillow:, what Billy should do next? It has been a long of time that he haven’t been recording new songs out…

GJEJ: I know Elton has said he would never do a cover album, but even before Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow and the like started doing these cover albums, for years I've wished Elton would do an album of 50's/60's songs after hearing him record songs like I'm Ready, Chapel Of Love and, more recently, Rock This House. Of course, any album of new material would be great too! I'm just so happy Elton loves music so much and continues to tour.

J.Fillow: Well for Billy I just want to see him happy he's been touring for over 30 years he's been in and out of lawsuits divorced 2 times so he needs to relax somewhat if your asking me do I want to see a new album yes I do but not if it's at the expense of Billy's health

Great!!! Which is GJEJ, your Elton’s item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you’ve got to have it? And your appreciated Billy’s item, J.Fillow?

GJEJ: Besides owning his music, I would say my scrapbooks. They are one of a kind souvenirs and all of my memories are in them....and I have some very special ones too!

J.Fillow: A hand signed autograph stating that I was his #1 fan (witch means a lot)

Perfect!!! for you both… do you think Elton and Billy should have been compared finding some kind of rivalry or not, though they both play the piano doesn’t mean they have to be the same kind of musicians? What’s the difference between them, if it’s so?

GJEJ: Oooh, that's a hard one for me to answer. For me, they are just both great musicians with a lot of damn good music between them. There's a riff Elton played in My Life, during the Face To Face concerts, and it just sent a chill down my spine. He does little things like that which are awesome. But, Billy holds his own too. It just boils down to great music that makes me happy.

J.Fillow: Rivalry...I'm already Involved with the whole Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry (for the record I am a Yankees fan) so no I don't think there should be a rivalry

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

GJEJ: 1. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
2. Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
3. Two Rooms At The End Of The World
4. Crocodile Rock
5. The Captain And The Kid

J.Fillow: Geez 5 titles? lets see Rocket Man Your Song The One Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Candle In the Wind (England's Rose)

Thanks a bunch both, GJEJ and J.Fillow. That was a memorable experience… share the time with you was one of the bests experiences for me. Really a pleasure to chat with you, people.Thanks for all, again and take care.

26 Mar 2008

Unforgettable People (XV): Billy Joel

Born in the Bronx, New York, Joel was raised in Hicksville, New York. His father Howard (born Helmut) was originally from Germany, where his father (Billy Joel's grandfather) Karl Amson Joel had owned a department store which he was forced to sell under value to avoid being dispossessed by the Nazis. His mother, Rosalind Nyman, was born in England, to a Jewish family (Philip and Rebecca Nyman). His parents divorced in 1960, and his father moved back to Vienna, Austria. Joel signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1972 and moved to Los Angeles. He lived there for three years, returning to New York City in 1975. While in California, he had a paying job in a piano bar (using the name Bill Martin), so his superhit "Piano Man" is seen as autobiographical.

Billy insisted Elton never infuenced his music, but recognise in the issue of the 1976 Juke magazine: “Elton has definetely repopularized the piano as a lead rock instrument”. He didn’t like the comparison with Elton although he like him. In fact, they professed mutual admiration and always offered kind words to each other. In 1994 Billy covered “The Bitch Is Back” in Wembley Arena, and then Elton appeared onstage to lead the crowd in a “Happy Birthday” sing-along rendition for his forty-fifth. Competition or not, the camaraderie between them was evident, when Elton’s drummer Charlie Morgan replaced Billy’s Liverty DeVitto, due to illness: “Billy presented me a card and wrote: “thanks Charlie, you saved our asses”, and taped a $1.000 dollar bill” explained Charlie in an interview for the “Elton The Biography”, by David Buckley, a must to read book.

It was Billy Joel’s idea to tour with Elton and approached to him: “Is this a cool idea or what?” exclaimed Billy. First leg, in 1994, in America, it became the second tour grossing $224,157 per show, only behind Barbra Streisand. Each performer did a set with his own band and then, singin’ together in the opening and the final of the show. In his own set, they exchanged songs: Joel did “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and John did “Uptown Girl”. When the two bands jammed late in concert, Elton and Billy storming through songs that inspired both musicians. The success of the shows convinced them to bring the tour to Europe in 1998, along to Japan and Australia, but some of the concerts were performed only by Elton and his band, due to Billy’s respiratory infection. The last leg of the tour was in 2001 and 2002, in America again. It was during Billy's set in 2001, in Chicago, when Elton’s band learned that Davey lost his son in an accident.

In 1995 Elton and Billy collaborated on the song “Red, White And Blues”, expected to be on a compilation but still unreleased. Billy was an special guest of Elton’s “One Night Only”. It was said too that Billy would be in Elton’s “Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way (NYC)”, on “Captain And The Kid” but finally this not happened.

EJ and BJ, as they jokingly referred to themselves, are two of only musicians who can actually both read music and play by ear.

25 Mar 2008

The Story Behind “Piano Man”

According to wikipedia, "Piano Man" was Billy Joel's first major hit and is considered Joel's signature song.

The verses of the song are sung from the point of view of a bar piano player who focuses mainly on everyone else at the bar: John the bartender, the waitress, and bar regulars like Paul and Davy. Most of these characters have unfilled dreams, and the pianist's job, it seems (with the help of alcohol), is to help them "forget about life for awhile".

The chorus, in barroom sing-a-long style, comes from the bar patrons themselves, who plead, "Sing us a song / You're the piano man / Sing us a song, tonight / Well, we're all in the mood for a melody / and you've got us feeling alright."

24 Mar 2008

Elton John Bio

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in Pinner, Middlesex, England on March 25, 1947. Reg's father Stanley, a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, he wanted his son to be a Royal Air Force pilot or a bank teller. Since Reg's father was away most of the time, he was raised primarily by Sheila his mother, grandmother and aunt. "When I was four, Ihad a mass of bubbly hair. I looked like Shirley Temple" explained Elton years later. "As a child I desperately wanted brothers and sisters. But my father was against the idea. (Childhood) was miserable. I lost touch with my father. There was a wide-right between us. My father seemed to resert me. Maybe it was a mistake. I don't know..."

It was his grandmother Ivy, who first encouraged young Reg to play, picking him up, in her knees, when he was no more than three. One day he astonished her by suddenly starting to pick out the melody of "The skaters'waltz". He soon began taking piano lessons at the tender age of 4. The marriage between his parents did not last song: Stanley and Sheila Dwight divorced when he was 14. His mother married Fred "Derf" Farebrother ten years later, and moved into an apartment in Northwood Hills, England. "I was two years old when he came home. Mother said "Do you want to see him?" He said "No, I'll wait till morning". He'd been in Aden or somewhere, and he came home after two years, after not seeing me born or anything" regret Elton.

Reg was an excellent piano player at a young age, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when he was 11, but he continued his schooling until he was 15, when he left school with the intention of breaking into the music business. "I began wearing glasses when I was 13 to copy Buddy Holly. After 18 months I found I couldn't see without them" he recalled. Elton remembered when "My mother came hom one afternoon with two discs. They were Elivs Presley's "Heartbreak hotel" and Billy Haley's "ABC Boogie". I really freaked when I heard them and I went on from here".

In 1960, Reg and his friends formed a band called "The Corvettes". In 1961, he joined his first serious band, "Bluesology", and divided his time between playing with the group, giving solo concerts at a local hotel, and running errands for a London Publishing house. Bluesology only lasted him a year, but gave him the name that stuck since: Elton John, which was taken from the names of "Bluesology" members "Long" John Baldry and saxophonist Elton Dean. "Reg Dwight was hopeless... it sounded like a library assistant" reminded Elton. In 1967 Elton quit "Bluesology" and teamed up with lyricist Bernie Taupin, a poet from Lincolnshire, who was interested in providing lyrics for a songwriter, from an ad in the local newspaper. Later on, Elton and Bernie shared a room and bunk beds in the Elton father's apartment. Their first collaboration was a song called “Scarecrow”. Signed to MCA's UNI label for America, Elton went Top 10 with his second single “Your song” (1971); two years later, he had the first of his six number one seventees singles, “Crocodile rock”.

“There was something about his vocals that was an improvement on all the english vocals till then” explained John Lennon when he was asked about the new Elton John phenomenon, “When I heard it, I thought Great! That's the first thing that's happened since The Beatles happened”.

Many radio stations sold themselves to their listeners on his name alone, calling themselves “your number one Elton John station”, “the station that plays more Elton John than anyone” or “your official Elton John spot on the dial”. “If you ever die” John Lennon once told Elton “I'm gonna throw my radio out of the window”.

The 1975 suicide attempt, refered on the “Someone saved my life tonight” song, was the history about Elton going to married Linda Woodrow. Everyone around Elton strove to disuade him from rushing into marriage with Linda. The wedding date was only three weeks away when Elton and Bernie went out drinking with Long John Baldry at a Soho club, and he decided not to married. “I'm going to tell her” said Elton. Linda threatened dire consequences if Elton called the wedding off. At the end, Elton went straight to the telephone with an SOS to his mother. Taupin described the sarcastic situation on the Two Rooms project Tribute: “One day I was coming out of my room and walk down the hall, I smelt gas (...) I walk in the kitchen and there's Elton lying on the floor with the gas oven open (...) I started laughing because he'd got the gas oven open, he was lying on a pillow and he'd opened all the windows”.

In the 70s, Elton received a star on the Hollywood's Walk of Fame as LA declared it “Elton John Day” (21/11/75); he was the first rock star that was inmortalized in wax at Madame Tussaud's in London (07/03/1976); and he achieved a longtime ambition when he became chairman of Watford FC (June 1977). Elton's interview at the Playboy magazine saying “There's nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. I think everybody is bisexual to a certain degree” was scandalous for the decade and marked the decline of Elton John.

In 1984, Elton John married a studio engineer, Renate Blauel, in Darling Point, Sydney, Australia. “I know a lot of people have said my marriage is a definitive cover up, and that I only get married to be proper” told Elton when he was asked about the surprising new “but that's just idle gossip”. After that, the marriage went to end of the beginning of 1989, Elton John had health problems. He entered a Sydney hospital for throat surgery (05/01/1987) and he went in 1991 to hospital in Chicago “because I had an eating disorder. I was bulimic, I was a drug addict and I was an alcoholic. And that was all at once. I'll ask for help, I'll go away and I 'll live again because I really felt as if I was dead anyway”. In 1988 Elton successfully sued “The Sun” newspaper for damages after printed untrue stories about his sex life. “They can say I'm a fat old sod, they can say I'm an untalented bastard, they can call me a proof, but they musn't lie about me” declared Elton when he won the legal battle. With Elton getting sober in the 90s, and being a long active supporter of the fight against AIDS, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in november of 1992.

Elton was on the plane on his way to Ireland when he lost balance and keeled over, and he was rushed to a private hospital in London with an irregular heartbeat. Elton had a routine two-hour operation to fit an electronic pacemaker (in 1999).

19 Mar 2008

Unforgettable People (XIV): Dick James

Born Richard Leon Isaac Vapnick, James entered the music business as a singer. Dick James founded in 1963 Northern Songs Ltd., a company founded with Brian Epstein, and The Beatles, to publish songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

On February 1968, Dick James started his own self-named label and both Elton and Bernie became its first official writers. “Who the hell are Reg Dwight and Bernie Taupin?” shouted James and he got Caleb Quaye to play some of the stuff he had recorded. “I don’t think he was very impressed but he agreed to sing us up because Caleb, who was his blue-eyed boy, said he thought it was good” justified Elton. But Elton’s depression was magnificied when Dick James rejected the album worth of songs he and Bernie recorded. There were songs on it like “Regimental Sgt. Zippo”, “Watching The Planes Gone By”... very esoteric lyrics which James didn’t understood. Matters not helped when Caleb Quaye left the company.

James grew to see Elton’s talent as a songwriter for other artists more than a performer himself. When they thought that was the end, Steve Brown arrived as a plugger for the new Dick James Music label. Elton and Bernie decided to ignore James (“A Meal Ticket” later they wrote it about) and recorded songs without commercial considerations: “Lady Samantha”, “Empty Sky” and “Skyline Pigeon” for example were on the set. “Lady Samantha” sold 20.000 copies and became a turn-table hit. That was the deciding factor that James gave them complete freedom to record a whole album of the kind of songs they felt comfortable writing: that was “Empty Sky”. Before the album was released, Dick James took over management responsabilities for both Elton and Bernie. The single “It’s Me That You Need” sold only 2.000 copies but it drew attention about his talent composition. After that, James agreed to spend 5.000 pounds on an Elton’s second LP, after hearing the potential of “Your Song”, “Sixty Years On” and “Take Me To The Pilot”.

John Reid’s arrival within the organisation made great waves, specially with Dick James’ son Stephen, because he complained that Elton’s publishing agreements were unfair, specially in the USA. Although Elton’s products would be released by Dick James Music until 1975, the spirit of Elton was gone and the renewed was cancelled.

There was also a story behind "Daniel", when Dick James didn't want to put out this song as a single and finally did, following Elton's suggestion: "Dick James said he didn't want another single released to detract from sales of the new album, so I've more or less forced him to put it out. He has disowned it, so I am having to pay for all the advertising. But he says he will pay for the adverts if the single makes the Top Ten"

On January 1986 Elton and Bernie won a lawsuit against James to receive back copyrights in the 144 songs published during their six year contract, including their gretest hits, the thirty-six unpublished songs and the forty-four unreleased tracks. Within a week, Dick James died of a heart attack. His son Stephen blamed Elton for the death.

Hard To Find Lyrics

I Get A Little Bit Lonely
Music & Lyrics by Reg Dwight

"Never thought I'd miss you
When you said goodbye
Never thought I'd see the day
That I break down and cry
Won't you come on back to me
Back where you belong

'Cause I get a little bit lonely baby
Lonely and blue missing you
I get a little bit lonely baby
If you ever come back, gonna be true

Oh I know I hurt you
Couldn't you forgive
For I know without you
It's impossible to live
I want you back in my arms again
Back where you belong

Come on baby
Let's forgive and forget
And even though things are bad
I'm gonna get you yet

Music by Reg Dwight
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

"You're too low to see me smiling
When I'm flying in the air
But you're too high to frighten me
Pretend you didn't see me
Pretend you didn't need me
Pretend you didn't see me
Pretend you didn't need me

To frighten away all the lost and the lonely
The sacred forgotten of yesterday's problems
Your wooden construction was meant for infliction
To penetrate pain with the thoughts from my mind

Can you see me scarecrow
Can you still feel free
For all your love scarecrow
And will you still be there tomorrow
And will you still be there tomorrow

Like moths around a light bulb, your brain is still bleeding
From visions and pictures of nature's young raincoat
If only my eyes were not pinned to your table
My arms would be grasping the lilies of summer
It's no good to be a scarecrow post
And I've said it before, and I'll say it some more

The Tide Will Turn For Rebecca
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

"Can you hear the floorboards crying
In a room on the second floor
That used to be owned by someone who's no one
But he don't live there anymore

Only Rebecca clasping her head in her knees
Trying to work out what it's about
And why someone had to leave

But dry up your tears
Stop counting the years
Don't worry what's coming
Forget all your fears

And the tide will turn for Rebecca
And the tide will turn for Rebecca
Her life will change
Her hopes rearrange
Into something that might really matter

She's all alone in a world of her own
With a key that fits her lonely world
You won't need a crowd to shout out aloud
What she says deserves to be heard

A Dandelion Dies In The Wind
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

"See my eyes and I see my arms
The seagulls say you've gone
It was just a game of let's pretend
And I whistle to the waves that lend me tears

Purple clouds, golden rain
Yesterday has gone
And a dandelion dies in the wind

If you're quick enough to rise
With the sleep still in your eyes
You'll see the shadow of the sun above my mind
I know that only you can help me now

Purple clouds, golden rain
Yesterday has gone
And a dandelion dies in the wind

But a dandelion sighs
And it tries to tell the wind
That crying's not a bad thing
Worrying is a sin

If they sent a cloud from heaven
I would ride into the skies
To escape all of my troubles
And to cast away your lies

Purple rains have turn to gold
The clouds of yesterday
And a dandelion dies in the wind

I see my eyes and I see my arms
The seagulls say you've gone
It was just a game of let's pretend
And I whistle to the waves that lend me tears

Purple clouds, golden rain
Yesterday has gone
And a dandelion dies in the wind

17 Mar 2008

The Story Behind “Scarecrow”

It was the first song Elton and Bernie recorded and demoed as a team. “It was one of the lyrics in the first batch I had given to Elton” remembered Bernie on the interview with Andy McKaie in May 1990. “I remember because in those days, when you made demos, you made the old acetates, and I remember getting a copy of it and running home to my Aunt’s house and being so proud and playing it”.

“It was our song” added Elton in the same interview. “Growing up with records like he and I did (...) and your first song going around on an acetate, Scarecrow, with E. John and B. Taupin, that’s amazing! So exciting!”.

15 Mar 2008

The Eltonite's Day (X): Today the one and only... Janel!!!

Hi Janel. Welcome to the “To Be Continued” Week. Nice to “meet” you. I love compilation albums, I recognize that. But I am not agree with the last Record Company releases... too much of the same. This week, as the Compilation week, I have to count with a special guest, trying to find that perfect compilation should be.

So... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?
Janel and I live in Atlanta, GA

Right. When you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music?
I became a casual fan back in the 80's. The first time I heard an Elton song was probably early 70's. I remember hearing "Daniel" but, I was quite young and didn't know who it was singing. My first Elton concert is what moved me to buy all his albums.

Ok! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?
My first concert was in Atlanta on April 29, 2000. It was a solo show. I remember hearing the first few words of "Your Song" and saying to my friend, "oh my, I have a feeling this is going to be awesome". After that concert I walked out saying, "I've never seen an artist in concert like Elton". "What a fantastic show"! I was totally blown away. It was that first concert that hooked me. I've been to 6 concerts and will explain further along in this interview.

Nice!!! 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?
Actually, I have 2 items in my collection that I'm fortunate to have. I have an autographed picture of Elton personally signed to me that he sent. A friend had sent him a picture she drew of him and she told him about me. My other item is probably the Captain Fantastic vinyl picture disc. It took me a long time to get it and it also cost me some money for it.

Wow!!! You live in Atlanta, like Elton, when he is in the States. Don’t know if you ever see him in the greengrocers, waiting in the red lights in the street, on the steps in front of Park Place, or in an art gallery? I’ve heard about a tender story, when your stepmom wrote, onetime, a nice letter about you for Elton. Which is the story? Did she send it to Elton? Could you explain us something about it, please?First, I want to make this very clear. Just because I live across the street from Elton does not mean I know him personally! I am no different then any other fan. NO, I've never seen Elton around Atlanta and HAHA, he does not sit on the steps at Park Place. He is not here for that long of time when he is here. Elton is human like you and I except, he has tons of money.

The letter that my stepmom sent to him, I don't think he actually read it. It's NOT because he didn't want to, but he does not get his mail. Someone picks up his mail and sorts it out for him, first! Chances are it got set aside and it didn't get to him. That's okay! He probably gets a lot of fan mail. The reason my stepmom wrote this letter is because, it took me 3 years to receive Social Security Disability. I was born with Scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. I had surgery when I was 5 years old but over the years, the fusion of 3 or 4 vertabres has deteriated. I have lots of pain in my back, hips and feet and my curve is now 75 degrees. It's caused me to not be able to work a full time job. I had to do something. It took a long time to get it and when I got it, I told my parents, "I want to go to Las Vegas to see The Red Piano show". So that is what the letter was about. That I was coming to see his show in Vegas.

So that is why I've only been to 6 concerts. I don't have the physical ability to go all over the country.

Oh I see… Well, you know that this is the “To Be Continued” week, or the Compilation Week, as I pretend. What do you think about Elton’s Greatest Hits packages released? Do you prefer the All Time Hits... the Demos... the Unreleased Tracks... or all in one, like they did in the “To Be Continued” Compilation? And which songs should have been in a “To Be Continued” (Part Two), if sometimes were released?
I think if there were to be a "To Be Continued" part two, it should have RARE material in this package. Yes, I have all the greatest hits but it's all the same songs. It's ridiculous that these record companies don't take the time to look into his rare songs that are not included on his albums. I'm tired of it always being for the casual fan. Sure, I once was a casual fan, but the casual fan has 5 or 6 greatest hits to choose from. It's time for us diehards to have a package with rare stuff and not just put them on a disc 2 of the Elton John original album. It's not fair that we have to buy an album we already have again, to get 4 rare tracks. I think if we had something like the Rare Masters CD would be very cool. Most of you know what rare songs I'm referring to and if I were to list them this will be too long.

That should be great, of course!! Like you, I would love to hear a type album with just Elton and his piano, nothing else. This should be the ultimate album to hear from Elton, in your opinion...
Oh my, a solo album with just Elton would be fabulous! I love the band but to hear just Elton and his piano is the best! Come on Elton, maybe one day a solo album. Please!

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton’s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?
My five favorite Elton songs: Skyline Pigeon
Tiny Dancer
The One
Bennie & The Jets (Live)
The Bridge

Thanks a bunch, Janel!!!! really a pleasure to chat with you, it’s was worth the time spent with you, Janel. Take care.
Thanks, Miquel! I'm happy to have been able to help you out with the "To Be Continued", week.

You’re welcome!!!

13 Mar 2008

Unforgettable People (XIII): Rod Stewart

Elton and Rod referred each other by the feminine names of Sharon Cavendish (Elton) and Phyllis (Rod). The Elton’s nickname came while touring with Bluesology band, after the Sheffield Cavendish Club concert, where Stewart also played. Both worked together with Long John Baldry then. They met when Elton was still ar school. Elton explained the meeting in 1972: “I went to a pub and went up to him and said: “Excuse me, Mr. Stewart, Can I have your autograph?”. They worked separately with Long John Baldry and became pals. They share their love for music and, also, the love for soccer: Rod fan of Celtic of Glasgow, Elton fan of Watford, even getting together in 1977 for the Goaldigger’s charity.

Rod, following Elton's advice, declined the acceptation to do the role of “Pinball Wizard” in the Tommy Opera-Rock Film. Rod was angry to learn that Elton had taken the part: " I ended up doing pinball wizard” explained Elton “and Rod couldn't believe it: "you bastard..."".

Their friendship included a dose of competitiveness and frequently, they mention each other in interviews. When Elton got married with Renate, it was 1984, Rod sent him a telegram: “You’re still standing, but we’re still on the floor”.

Rod recorded Elton’s “Country Comfort” in 1970 and “Let Me Be Your Car” in 1974, this with a frenetic backing vocals by Elton himself. In 1981 Rod rejected another Elton’s song, “Just Like Belgium” because he disliked the mood of the song. And a version of “Your Song” in the “Two Rooms” Tribute was a hit in the Adult Contemporary charts in 1992. Recently they worked together on the “Great American Songbook Vol. IV”, singing the duet “Makin’ Whoopee”, with Elton whispering at the end of the song... “They wrote this for you, Rod”.

12 Mar 2008

Greatest Hits Packages: The Really Greats And The Forgettables

Too many Elton’s compilations have been released, throught the years. Albums like: “A Very Special Collection”, “The Very Best Of...”, “Greatest Hits”, “Love Songs”, “Milestones”, “The Best Of...”, “Your Songs”, “Rare Masters”, ... were sure worldwide successes in sales and music charts terms. Record companies know and exploted that.

The Really Greats:

“Greatest Hits”, 1974 compilation, remains as the best seller album of Elton’s catalog. In the States, it became the first hits package to reach number one. In Canada, it’s one of few albums to ever ship one million copies.

“The Very Best Of Elton John”, 1990. “My old life stops here” wrote Elton “a new life starts, thanks to a willingness to change”. Last “Very Best Of...” album was ten years ago, in 1980. This provided the best survey ever done of Elton’s career and was practically number one everywhere, giving two British number one albums within one year. A great video compilation of video-clips were released.

Special mention deserved other kind of compilations:
“Lady Samantha”, 1981, including “B” sides since 1970 to 1973, on the top 20 in Britain.
“To Be Continued”, 1990, because it represented a comprehensive overview of Elton’s career up to 1990, delivering the All Time Hits and more: “B” sides, unreleased tracks, live tastes, new songs (taken from the Don Was sessions) and some “lost songs”, all for 50$ for a 4-CD set. According to Billboard, this compilation has been now platinum. In the United Knigdom, the set was released one year later, dropping two songs changed for two new songs from “The One “ Sessions.

“Rare Masters”, 1992 which was a rare treat for die-hard fans, including liner notes by Bernie Taupin, and we could find there hard-to-find favourites, like “Planes”, “I’ve Been Loving You” or “Let Me Be Your Car”.

Depending the countries, the national record companies released great compilations though. Let’s recommend some of those, for his particular tracks, including national successes:

“Os Grandes Sucessos de Elton John” from Brazil, 1977 (with “The Cage”, “Skyline Pigeon”, and “Roy Rogers”, for example)
“Elton John. Canciones de Oro!, from Spain, 1979 (“This Song Has No Title”, Your Sister Can’t Twist” and “Harmony”)
“Greatest Hits Digital Remix” from Belgium, 1981 (“Pinball Wizard”, “Island Girl” and “Border Song”)
“Your Songs” from Germany, 1982 (“Noody Wins”, “Song For Guy” and “Part Time Love”)
“The Superior Sound Of Elton John (1970-75)” from Europe, 1984 (Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “We All Fall In Love Sometimes”)
Elton John 16 Grandes Éxitos from Venezuela, 1985 (“Friends”, “Chloe” and “Love Song”)
Rocket Man. The Definitive Hits, 2007, which we could find different tracks depending if the compilation is from one country or another: UK (“Are You Ready For Love”, “Tinderbox”), Australia (“Blue Eyes”, “Sacrifice”), Austria (“Nikita”, “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That”), Belgium (“Just Like Belgium”, “Circle Of Life”), Brazil (“Tiny Dancer”, “Skyline Pigeon”), Denmark (“Sad Songs”, “Something About The Way You Look Tonight”), Finland (“The Bitch Is Back”, “I Want Love”), Holland (“Cry To Heaven”, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”), SouthAfrica (“Little Jeannie”, “I’m Still Standing”), and US & Canada (“Island Girl”, “Lucy In The Sky”). Other different packages included Norway (with a national poll selecting the best songs), Sweden, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and New Zeland. And these are the tracks you could find in all of the packages, undepending the country: “ Candle In The Wind”, “Daniel”, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (only in Finland with George Michael), “Rocket Man”, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” and “Your Song”.

The Forgettables:

Greatest Hits Vol. III, 1987. With “Too Low For Zero” and (again and again) “Kiss The Bride” on it, these compilation fullfilled Elton’s contract with Geffen Records, did not reach the charts. And Greatest Hits (1976-1986), released in 1992, with similar tracks.

Love Songs, 1996, althought this album sold very well, this is more a greatest hits album than a “Love Songs” collection, because who can say “Candle In The Wind”, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” or even “Please” are love songs? Not me. Why they did not included “You Can Make History” or “No Valentines” in the rest of the world, outside America?

One Night Only, 2000, celebrating the concert number 50 in Elton’s favourite place, Madison Square Garden, they forget all the best songs that were played that night: “Little Jeannie”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” with Billy Joel, “Club At The End Of The Street”, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “Come Together”. And more than this, the record company didn’t promote anything about the album, reaching the singles poor sales: “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” with Mary J. Blige (even an studio version was recorded) and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (a bad selection, heard too often).

Greatest Hits (1970-2002),2002, for being much of the same again and again. Too much old Elton songs were put out in a short period of time. They lose a big opportunity to edit a DVD collection of video-clips from all of the singles, publishing again the One Night Only concert.

Hey Eltonites... What do you think about Elton’s Greatest Hits packages released? Do you prefer the All Time Hits... the Demos... the Unreleased Tracks... or all in one, like they did in the “To Be Continued” Compilation?

11 Mar 2008

The Story Behind “You’re In My Heart”

On April’s Fool day, in 1991, Elton surprised Rod onstage, in Wembley, wearing a dress and wig. He kissed Rod and sat on his legs to duet “You’re In My Heart (You’re In My Soul)”.

Judy Parkinson described the whole progress in her book “Made In England”: “(Elton) together with Rod’s management planned a trick right down to the last detail. (Assistant) Bob Haley was instructed to go out and buy a custom with all the trimmings, returning with a blonde wig, strapless gold gown with frills, and strappy shoes. Rod was expecting his wife to appear, but it was quite another blond who tottered on stage and whispered: “It’s Sharon!” (...) After Rod regained his composure, the two sang the duet, while Elton sat on Rod’s knees serving him brandy from a silver tray”.

10 Mar 2008

The Story Behind “You Gotta Love Someone”

Recorded in Los Angeles, July, 1990, and was produced by Don Was. Reportedly written with Ryan White in mind, with a gospel-like tune, the song seem to hold personal reference to Elton too, putting love above all: “You can beat the clock, but before highnoon, you gotta love someone”. Elton, in fact, decided to change his way of life after Ryan’s death.

On july, before entering to treatment in a Lutheran Hospital in Chicago for multiple addictions, Elton was asking Iggy Pop about working with Don Was. Next, he recorded some of the songs he and Bernie penned, most in one take, and at least, eight songs from this session remain unreleased. A different mix of the track was featured on “Days Of Thunder” Soundtrack.

8 Mar 2008

The Eltonite's Day (IX): My Special Guest Is... Anja!!!

Hi Anja. Welcome to the “Ice On Fire” Week. Nice to “meet” you. I was interested in interviewing you because I check your website about Elton and it's one very very interesting. I am sure you're a big eltonish supporter and you live in a country that still loves Elton.

So... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?
I’m 27 years old and I’m from Denmark.

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

I became a fan in 1998 when I saw him in concert for the first time.. I was sold big time! I remember hearing some of Elton’s music long before I really became a fan as such. I thought it was very melodic and I liked his voice and style. Later when I got to know his and Bernie’s compositions a lot better I found a lot of things in the story’s of the songs, his piano playing (underrated!) and more. I can relate to it and it moves me.. as I think it does to many people. Also he is a fantastic live performer.

Sure! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? And also, have you got Elton's autograph at a show? And which are the songs, in your opinion, that he has to put in his current set list?
I have been to 16 concerts and going to 2 more this year in Germany and England. First time I saw Elton in concert was very surreal and amazing at the same time! I thought he was fantastic. I’ve got 5 Elton autographs. There is a lot of Elton/Bernie songs I would like to hear live! Grow Some Funk, Son Of Your Father, Highflying Bird, Bitter Fingers, Harmony.. and a lot more!!

Wow!! 5 autographs!!! So... 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?
Well, my autographs. A silly thing like a small stone from outside his mansion, Woodside. And I love the dolls! But they are not really hard to get.

Nice! Explain me something about your great website. What it was your pretention?
Well, I just like spending time on it and getting in touch with other fans around the world. My first intention was to put a lot of information together in one place on a Danish Elton John site, cause it’s the only one there is.

Great!!! How it was, and still is, the success of Elton in your country? Which have been his hits in sales terms? And the most sellest albums?
I don’t think that there is many “hardcore” fans in Denmark really. But he is very loved here, he sell out concerts easily and so on. And he often visits.. I don’t know much about his sales here though. But I could imagine that albums like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Greatest Hits” are doing very well like everywhere else in the world basically ;-) Also he recorded “Sleeping With The Past” here in Denmark.

Yes, he did. Well, you know that this is the “Ice On Fire” week. What do you think about this album and what this album means for you?
Well, I think it’s a good album but below his usual standards. I do believe that he made good songs in the eighties more than good albums as a whole, like he did in the seventies. But I love songs like “Too Young”, “Soul Glove”, “Satellite” and of course “Nikita”! Those are some of the best songs on the album in my opinion. Still it means a lot to me, all of his records does, they tell each of their story and I’ve heard them a million times.

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


We All Fall In Love Sometimes - High Flying Bird - The Cage - Tonight – Simple Life

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

Thank you very much Anja, really a pleasure to chat with you. Take care. Well, fans out there, I think we must check out Anja's website. That's where you could find the setlists of the concerts Anja have seen, a complete biography, pictures, a section about Bernie, her videos on youtube...and the section which I really like it: Interviews and articles. A must to see website!!!

7 Mar 2008

Unforgettable People (XII): Fred Mandel

Fred Mandel, born in Toronto Ontario, started playing piano when he was four years old, and the canadian jazz-rock group Lighthouse was his first musical taste. Mandel joined Alice Cooper band, first as a band member, and then as the musical director for the group. While he was with Alice Cooper, he met Dee Murray and Davey Johnstone, who put Mandel to Elton’s band as keyboardist and guitar player, for his versality. Other collaborations included Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, Queen’s “The Works” and toured with Kiki Dee in 1978, Queen in 1982 and Supertramp in 1983. He was with Elton’s band since 1984 to 1988.

Freddie is a superb musician with a particularly keen sense of humor, and an ability to attack a recording session with fresh focus and consummate musicianship every time, every take. Now he is involved in cinema.

The Brave (1997); Role: Assistant Director
When A Man Loves A Woman (1994); Role: Production Assistant
The New Age (1994); Role: Art Assistant
King of the Hill (1993); Role: Set Production Assistant
Passion Fish (1992); Role: Set Production Assistant
I Was on Mars (1992);Role: Production Assistant

picture courtesy of AnnaBCN

5 Mar 2008

The Story Behind “That’s What Friends Are For”

Elton joined Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight on this AIDS benefit single. And Elton, who was third in line for the part behind George Michael and Rod Stewart, finally did it. The song was written by Burt Bacharach and his songwriter and wife Carole Bayer Sager, for the film “Night Shift” and sung by Rod Stewart.

The Story Behind "Wrap Her Up"

According to producer Gus Dudgeon, Elton planned to use Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby” as the backing track and even it was recorded, but George Michael insisted Elton to write his own music tune. Bernie’s lyrics, then, alluded the joys of admiring the female sex. George Michael took the high notes in the duet, and Elton the low notes.

4 Mar 2008

The Story Behind "Nikita"

Nikita was said to be inspired a cluster of mums in Essex to name their little girls Nikita at that time. But in fact, Nikita is a russian male name. The song made a compelling case against the Cold War that president then, Ronald Regan, dubbed about what he considerate the evil’s empire: the Soviet Union. Elton toured Russia in 1979 and had experienced the warmth of the Russians firsthand.

Ken Russell’s video showed capitalist Elton behind the Wall, in his Rolls-Royce, playing a lead romantic role, and admiring a caucassian female border guard, while hoping and dreaming the Wall come down sometime to be finally with her. The blond caucasian beauty in soviet uniform was Russian singer Anya, she's appears on Nikita video. Anya is the Russian form of Anna which means "gracious".

Elton won an Ivor Novello Award with this song, and he said he could knock out a song like this every day, though he would not want to, as he has to be in the mood. To help Elton along he brought in some new pop talents stars like Nik Kershaw on guitar and George Michael singing beautiful soaring backing soprano.

The Story Behind "Act Of War"

Elton hoped to duet with Tina Turner on his hard-rocking track, but she disliked the song’s mood, inspired ironically by her cover of “The 1984 Song”. “She wanted to sing more up lyrics, which is perfectly understandable” argumented Elton.

Millie Jackson, the substitute was a Rhytm and blues singer. Elton noticed she was coming to town for some concerts and arranged to have a rough tape of the song ready for her at the airport. She was so receptive: “I’ll do it no matter what key it’s in!” exclaimed about the suggestion.

But the single wasn’t taking seriously and, as Elton said, it was a “terrible disappointment” in sales terms, reaching only number 32 in UK. Several dance remixes of the song were edited at that time.

1 Mar 2008

The Eltonite's Day (VIII): My Special Guest Is... Marissa!!!

Hi MarissaluvsElton. Welcome to the “Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida” Week. Nice to “meet” you and thank you very much for the acceptation. Really it was my intention to interview you because I always loved your comments and thoughts about Elton, and I still remembered, you were the one who introduced me to the msb at Hercules, what it was great!!! More than this, you're so younger and, in the other hand of people of your age, you became an Elton John fan. As your experience, it's nice because Elton provided fans in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s and nowadays

But first... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?
I am Marissa from California, USA

Ok! When did you become an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?
I became an Eltonite when I was 8. The first time i heard EJ was on the Lion King dvd (Can you feel the love tonight) i fell in love with him & his music

Right. What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?
I went to 1 concert when i was 11 (15 Sept. 06) and i was so excited and hyper and i was like shocked the whole night. i was like...O...M...G...!!!!!!!!!!!

Nice! How many albums do you have and how you started to collect Elton's albums? Which one was the first and why?
i have about 20 albums. the first i ever got was Greatest hits 1970-2002, christmas of 2003. when i told my family i liked elton john, they thought i was kidding but then they took me seriously.

Wow!!! 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?
His 60th B-day dvd probably.

Great! Well, you know that is the week of “Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida Sessions” Week... Do you like Elton doing musicals? Have you ever seen one of Elton's?
I never saw one of his musicals, but I’d like to see one. I think ej is great at musicals.

Which should be Elton's new direction of his career, in your opinion?
I like his career the way it is at the moment

I see... Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList?

The Letter
Freaks in Love
Made in England
American Triangle

Thank you very much. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?
You all rock. Rock on.

Oh, once you said i was listening to demo songs from "Songs From The West Coast" album on my grandma's cell phone... really you did that? Which is the story?
Well there is this thing on phones that allow you to buy ringtones. Uhh… I wasn’t buying any, even though I want to, so I was previewing each song to see what they sound like.

Thank you very much Marissa, really a pleasure to chat with you. Take care. And thank you for ginving me the opportunity to met great eltonites on msb!
Thank you Miquel!