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30 Apr 2008

Unforgettable People (XVIII): Lee Hall

Lee Hall, a playwright and screenwriter, was born in Newcastle in 1966. His acclaimed play Spoonface Steinberg (1997), a monologue for a nine-year-old autistic girl dying of cancer, was first broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 1997. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Bafta for Billy Elliot (2000).

Lee Hall had never expected to end up working on a musical when he started work on the film seven years ago: "I thought I had written a very personal and peculiar piece about growing up in the North-east and about wanting to create art against all the expectations of my background," he said.

He looked close to disbelief when he recalled his childhood self sitting writing in his bedroom and listening to Elton John records: "The whole thing has come full circle and in a real sense is a dream come true," he added, and explained: "I get the call from Eric Fellner at Working Title that Elton would like to speak to us. He has apparently recovered from his viewing of the movie, only to declare that he'd like to make it into a musical". It was 2001 in New York, when they finally met: "He has been looking for a British subject to make into a musical since the early 1970s and he thinks he has found it in Billy Elliot. So many of the themes strike a chord with Elton's own life - right down to attending the Royal College of Music as a young prodigy at the age of 11. Stephen and I have a pact that we'd only do it if the other commits and so we sign up for it". The only issue was who would write the lyrics, because Lee asumed that Elton would want to bring on Bernie Taupin, but not, Elton surprised him by insisting that Lee should do the lyrics: "I go home in a state of elation and panic" joked.

Because of Elton's schedule, they decided to write the songs first and then do the "book". "At one in the morning, I am woken by the phone. To my surprise it is Elton" remember now Lee."I think he must be so upset he wants to fire me before I waste another day on this stuff. But instead he plays me the first number down the phone. It seems fully orchestrated and everything I'd imagined it to be".

Lee's method begins writing by dreaming up the story first in images; Next, he normally make some notes and then take a huge piece of paper and free-associate what the essential scenes will be (in Billy Elliot a kid who dances in the streets of the mining village, the confrontation with his dad) and then draw lines between the different scenes and plot how they will connect up.

28 Apr 2008

The Story Behind "Electricity"

Elton was moved by the tale of the young miner's son who just wants to dance and decided to put soundtrack to the stage production. Elton said the theme of a father failing to understand the artistic aspirations of his son had mirrored his own upbringing. He was reduced to tears when he saw the first screening of the film at the Cannes festival four years ago. "I thought I had written a very personal and peculiar piece about growing up in the North-east and about wanting to create art against all the expectations of my background," he said.

"Electricity" was the first song to be released from the resulting soundtrack. In Natasha Tripney reviewer's words "it's a touching account of the release and passion that Billy feels when the music takes hold of him and he starts to move - the boy's feelings plausibly and poetically evoked by Lee Hall's suitably theatrical lyrics".

26 Apr 2008

The Eltonite's Day (XV): the one and only... Amoreenaaaa J!!!!

Hi Amoreena J, I am glad you accept it, it’s an honour for me to interview you. I really like your thoughts on eltonjohn official website forum and I am sure you will help me to find a bit of light in the “Leather Jackets” sessions, because not all the album was too bad, I believe.

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

I’m Amoreena, from South Australia - I was “Made in England”, but have lived most of my life in various places in New Zealand and Australia.

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?

The first time I really listened to Elton was when a school teacher played “Funeral for a Friend” to us, over and over – she must have played it 10 times and more. I vaguely remember thinking “how spooky” on the first play, but by the end I was really sick of it! She nearly scarred me for life. Luckily I did discover Elton properly later on. It was not an instant thing; I grew to love his music over time. I do remember listening to a radio interview sometime in the late ‘70s; they played Elton songs in the breaks. I remember being impressed with how knowledgeable Elton was, and how much he loved music – and I quite liked some of the songs. I think I bought his Greatest Hits Vol 2 shortly after this, and then A Single Man.

Perfect! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

The first Elton concert I went to was in 1982. I went with a young man I liked very much, but we were so far from the stage, and he talked through almost every song. Aaargh!!! Thankfully the rest of my concert experiences have been much happier. Elton is just superb live, and if anything he is getting better with time. I’ve seen Elton nine times.

Well, as you know this is the “Leather Jackets” Week. Which are your feelings about this album? In Australia it was a number one record... but worlwide was disastrous in sales terms.

A lot of people are very harsh on this album. I enjoyed it back in the day – and I still enjoy it today. It has a thread of humour running through it that I quite like (‘Angeline’, ‘Don’t Trust that Woman’, Heartache All Over the World’). ‘Paris’is a really beautiful, wistful song. ‘Slow Rivers’has a nice melody – I am not a fan of Cliff Richard, but his voice combines beautifully with Elton here. ‘I Fall Apart’ is a track I like, you can really hear anguish in Elton’s emotional delivery. ‘Hoop of Fire’is another strong, and soulful, song. The title track is very catchy; maybe it would have made a better first single than ‘Heartache All Over the World’. And ‘Go it Alone’ has some pretty mean piano, and the guitar really comes through too.

I even like the photo of Elton and the boys as bikers on the back cover – funny!

All in all, I think it is a fun album, with some great mid to up-tempo songs, and some pretty ballads. It sold well in Australia, I really don’t know why it didn’t elsewhere. The CD is hard to find these days, and goes for quite a price on ebay.

This album is exacerbated by an overuse of synthesizers, in my opinion, maybe trying to be in the mood of early 80s predominant music. Do you think so? Next was the “Melbourne Symphony Orchestra” album... maybe Elton be aware of his mistake?

Well, it was the ‘80s, everything was synthesizers. I don’t mind the synths, but it would be interesting to hear some of the songs with different instrumentation -especially more piano. The Elton John Live in Australia CD/TV special may have been an attempt to relaunch Elton’s career with a new label, using some great material from his heyday. But I understand the MSO had approached Elton a couple of years before about doing a concert series, so it was already in the pipeline. It is a fantastic album – even if Elton’s voice is showing some sign of the pain he must have been in.

Ok!!! And what about Elton’s voice? If he said in the 70s his voice seems to be of one “whose balls just cuts-off”, after the surgery operation in Australia his voice seems to be much stronger than ever. It’s that so? And now, do you like his voice?

I love Elton’s voice the way it is now – even if he can’t get the high notes he used to in his youth – maybe he is better suited to the lower range. His voice does seem stronger, and he can still perform those 2 ½ hour shows with little sign of wear – amazing.

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?

Gus Dudgeon was there when Elton’s career was being established, and helped create the sound on those classic albums so many of us love . I’m not very technically minded, but I love Elton’s production on “Peachtree Road”. It has a warmth to it.

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?

I value the musical experiences above all, the live performances, the first time I heard a favourite song, that kind of thing. I'm not a big-time collector, but I recently got the sheet music for ‘Healing Hands’ and I am very happy to have that because it is a song that means a lot to me.

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

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
Healing Hands
My Elusive Drug
My Fathers Gun

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

We are so lucky that Elton is still touring – can’t wait to see him (and some of my forum friends) in Sydney in 2 weeks!
And thanks for the chance to participate in the AllSongsList!

Thanks a bunch, Amoreena. 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.

24 Apr 2008

Unforgettable People (XVII): Gus Dudgeon

Gus Dudgeon was born in Surrey, England, 30th September 1942. Gus worked with such predominant artists and groups as The Rolling Stones, Magna Carta, Michael Chapman and David Bowie. It was orchestral arranger Paul Buckmaster who suggested Dudgeon’s name to Steve Brown when he was searching for a producer for “Elton John” album.

Gus Dudgeon was the producer who developed a trademark sound for Elton and produced his most successful work and golden era period. They made ten consecutive albums in seven years and arranged hits such “Your Song”, “Rocket Man”, “Candle In The Wind” and “Someone saved my life tonight”, to name a few.

Gus introduced guitarist Davey Johnstone into Elton’s band and cultivated the signature sound of Nigel Olsson’s drums and the backing vocals: “these guys (Davey, Dee and Nigel” were fucking brilliant” told Gus Dudgeon “I’ve done a lot of sessions with backing vocalists (but no one like they). They’d work out the backing vocals and come in. We’d put three or four days aside. Elton would go watch football or go off into the Gobi desert and find a supermarket” (EEL40). Nigel reminded “One memory I have is all of us stomping on a piece of wood board first thing in the morning to get a certain sound he wanted for “Bennie And The Jets”. Then it was Steve Brown call me at my farm to tell me Gus needed a car sound for the middle bit for “All The Girls Love Alice”. I was asked to get in my Mini Cooper with a cassette recorder and tape the microphone to the exhaust pipe and roar up and down the country roads, that a cab would be around to pick up the tape later” (EEL 46).

When Elton changed his musical direction after “Blue Moves”, in 1976, Gus decided to leave Elton. They reunited in 1985-1986 as David Geffen suggestion, the chairman of Elton’s record company, after Elton tried Trevor Horn, who was busy, while then producer Chris Thomas wasn’t available working with INXS.

Unfortunetely, Gus and Sheila, his wife, were killed in a car accident on Sunday July 21, 2002, after Dudgeon’s car veered off the M4 between Reading and Maidenhead and plunged down an embankment. They did not have children. The funeral service took place in Cobham, Surrey, where the Dudgeon’s lived. Elton, who attended, began by reading a message from Bernie: “ (...) we have not only lost a couple who treated a very naive country boy with great courtesy in his younger days, but also an extraordinary talent (...) without those our early records would never have taken on the legendary status they have been so fortunate to attain (...)”. In his heartfelt speech, Elton expressed his love for Gus and Sheila and thanked Gus for all that he had done for him; then he paid a rendition tribute singin’ “High-Flying Bird”. Elton’s floral tribute attached: “Thank you for the glorious times. May you be in Heaven together forever, Love, Elton”.

Rest in peace, Gus and Sheila. We’ve been missing you.

23 Apr 2008

The Story Behind "Slow Rivers"

As Liz Rosenthal described in her “His Song” book, Bernie analogizes a dying romance to a sluggish river “Slow rivers run cold, shallow waters never sank so low” and a frigid winter “I still see your eyes tonight like headlights through the fog”, as the prisma of a well-schooled in failed relationships could experienced.

When he introduced the song in the “Live In Australia” Tour de Force, he joked about the gigantic economic effort to bring a full orchestra to play live and tour with him, so they couldn’t have Cliff Richard to duet with him.

When “Slow Rivers” was in the music charts for a month, with bad results, Elton was admitted in a Sydney’s private hospital to remove a non-malignant lesion in his vocal cords. Elton was persuaded to not speak for a week and not to sing for months.

21 Apr 2008

The Story Behind "Heartache All Over The World"

It was the first new song completed for the album and had to be an esque of “Wrap Her Up” but failed. If “Wrap Her Up” is all about the virtues of opposite sex, here Bernie describe another saturday night’s alright... not fighting but when “the heart’s on fire” going “To Tokyo to Rome” looking for a girl. And the video-clip is as much as the same of “Wrap Her Up”, such a copy, with Elton singin’ live with his band.

Elton himself feels dishonest singin’ “girls girls girls have pity on me” because despite his marriage to Renate Blauel, he’s sexual history was well-knowing.

Elton even didn’t play on the track, leaving the synthesizer symphony to Fred Mandel. Different studio mixes of this song were on various singles.

19 Apr 2008

The Eltonite's Day (XIV): The One And Only... Newloneranger

Hi Newloneranger. Welcome to the “Live Excerpt Songs” Week. Nice to “meet” you. This is the first of a serious of weeks talking about Elton John Live Concerts. We began with the songs Elton weaved into his longtime hits. We have the joyous occasion to interview one of the best eltonites: Newloneranger, to chat about Live, albums and Elton's world. So, welcome and thank you for the acceptation.

But first... Could you tell us, please, who are you and where are you from?

I am Jim O from Arizona, lived here 3 years. Moved here from California to be closer to my girlfiend Marla. Born in California and lived there most of my life. But I am enjoying Arizona now. California is getting too crowded.

Right. When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

I became an Eltonite back in the mid 70s. My first Elton CD was Captain Fantastic, I recall playing that album over and over in my room. I liked it so much I slowly bought his back catalog. By the time Blue Moves was released I had every album he ever released. What makes me buy his music? I guess I can always count on a good album by Elton. I don’t need to hear clips. I know his albums will be good, About 90 percent of all Elton John albums I bought were bought on the first day of release.

Wow!! Which was your first Elton concert and how many concerts have you been?

7 shows. First and second was back in 1980 on the 21 at 33 tour, Me and a friend saw that show at the L.A forum. We were in the parking lot after the show. Some guy was trying to sell his tickets for the next night. They were seats in the 9th row so we had to get them. Paid about 10 dollars a piece for them(good prices back then). So we went the 2nd night and before the show we were walking by where all the limos and we saw Bernie walking with 2 ladies from afar. We yelled hi Bernie, He turned around and waved. I thought that was cool. I also snuck in a tape recorder to try to record the show. It didn’t come out very good but it was enjoyable hearing it again.
3rd show I saw was from the Jump Up tour back in 82. 4th was the Breaking Hearts tour in 84.
5th show was from the Sleeping With the Past tour. Elton got mad during that show. People started to head for the bathroom during his new songs. I believe he threw his piano stool. If I need to use the restroom, I’ll wait till he plays Bennie and the Jets or Daniel. Hearing his new songs is one of my favourite parts of the show. A lot of the crowd use these songs for a bathroom break. Very rude in my opinion. Those are the songs he is trying to sell. I can understand why he got upset.
6th show was a Face To Face tour with Billy Joel. I had a terrible toothache that night.(Root canal the next day) I had to drink a lot of beer that night just for the pain, Glad I wasn’t driving!
7th show was the Peachtree Road tour here in Arizona with my girlfriend. Good show but he played all the same songs, except the new ones.

Wow!!! You know this is the “Live Excerpts Songs”Week... What do yout think about Elton weaving some tunes, some excerpts, in his own songs? For example “White Christmas”on “Take Me To The Pilot”, “In The Mood” in “Bennie And The Jets” or “Back In The USSR”in “Pinball Wizard”. Do you like live medleys or your prefer listening the entire cover song alone?

To tell you the truth I never realized that he weaved some tunes into his songs. I do know some artists that have done that. I’d prefer to hear the entire cover song.
Medleys are ok. Maybe he should do a medley of some of those songs he sings every time. Like Bennie and the Jets, Daniel, Sorry Seems etc, Theres always about 10 songs he does in every show, He should make a 15 minute medley and get them out of the way. Theres so many good songs he excludes from his shows.

Yes, because there are great songs out there... Which songs do you thinkElton should cover, in live concerts or, like Rod Stewart did, recording an entire album of covers versions?

I wouldn’t mind Elton doing a covers album like Rod Stewart did. As long as it’s a one time deal. Elton and Bernie in no way should give up their songwriting. I always thought Elton would do a fine job on the Paul Davis song "I Go Crazy", It’s a beautiful song and their voices are similar.

Great. 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?

Seriously, I don’t really collect Elton Memorabilia. Probably the only thing I have that’s kind of rare would be the A Single Man picture disc. I spotted it in a used record store and got it for 5 bucks.
But I am happy to have every Elton album. Each one is special in its own way. Especially the Breaking Hearts abum for personal reasons.

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

Theres so many, But here are a few I really enjoy.
Sad Songs
Original Sin
Indian Sunset
FFAF/Love Lies Bleeding

Oh, sometime you said “I'd definately make him change his setlist. Make him sing songs he hasn't sang in years. I'd also make him stop the Vegas shows”… Why don’t you like this kind of shows?

Well from what I’ve heard the Vegas shows are only 90 minutes long. I’m not sure what the prices are but if I pay 100 dollars for a ticket, it better be for more than 90 minutes. Plus it would be a good idea not to get caught up with the Vegas crowd. I don’t know if the Mafia is as big as it was. But you need to be careful when you deal with this type of people. You may be in it for life if you’re not careful.
I’d definitely change the setlist. I've seen him 7 times, And when I go I want to hear something I haven’t heard before. Eltons catalog is so huge, but his setlist is so small. There some many gems out there he could play, I also noticed he rarely plays his newer hits. He has to realize that theres more than his 70s stuff. Some people say he plays these songs to please the crowd. I say if the crowd only knows these songs, they are not very big fans.
Thanks for the interview.

Thank you Jim, really a pleasure to chat with you. Enjoyable experience. Take care.

17 Apr 2008

The Elton Story Behind Live Excerpt Songs (III): Songs

“Bennie and The Jets”

The remainder of Elton’s piano solo was then and now improvised. Most often the melodies and chords in “Bennie” are new and either made up on the spot or comprise an interesting musical pattern that Elton develops over the course of numerous shows. We can recall Elton stucking a little bit of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” or “Pinball Wizard” in “Bennie”, along with other medley songs, comprising:

Weaved into “Bennie And The Jets":

As a thank you for frech embrace of the Blue Moves album, Elton sang the two songs in France:

I Love Paris In Springtime
Iles Amore

Gene Vincent & His Blues Caps’s Be-Bop-A-Lula
Strolling In The Park
Midnight In Moscow
Tchiakoysky First Piano Concerto
Bette Midler’s Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Glenn Miller’s In The Mood
Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode
Fur Elise

Tchiakoysky First Piano Concerto
The Kingsmen’s Louie, Louie (MTV Unplugged 1989)
Frank Sinatra’s My Way

Elton & Bernie met Frank Sinatra in 1976 at a Royal Albert Hall concert and promised to write a song to him. “Remember (I’m Still In Love With You)” was composed in 1977 but has never been released remaining as one of studio sessions aborted in 1977-1978.

Take Me To The Pilot:

Waltzing Matilda (Famous Australian Army March)
On Madman Across The Water 1971 Tour and regularly in Australia

White Christmas
Yellow Brick Road 1973 Tour and most of every season

Burn Down The Mission:

Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz
Sly And The Family Stones' I Want To Take You Higher
Junnior Walker and AllStars' Shotgun
Traffic's Feelin' Alright ?
Mitch Miller's The Yellow Rose Of Texas

More excerpt songs than this:

Oh Susannah!
At the end of “Honky Cat”, Caribou 1974 Tour

Jingle Bells
Medley with “Whole Lotta Shakin”, “I Saw Her Standing There” & “Twist And Shout”, Single Man 1979 Tour

The Stripper
Weaved into “Kiss The Bride”, Ice On Fire 1985 Tour while Elton is stripping!!!

Close Encounters Theme
Weaved by Davey Johstone into “Rocket Man”, Ice On Fire 1985-86 Tour

Happy Birthday
Intro of any song when the ocasion is required

16 Apr 2008

The Elton Story Behind Live Excerpt Songs (II): References

The Beatles
“I still think The Beatles were the be all and end all of pop music. What they did for pop music was incredible, unrepeatable” reminded Elton. “They changed the entire scene. And it’s because of them that most of us today are what we are. They were definetely my biggest influence.”

Get Back
Weaved into “Burn Down The Mission”, Elton John 1970 Tour and on “Pinball Wizard” on Single Man 1979 Tour

Back In The USSR
Weaved into “Pinball Wizard”, Single Man 1979 Tour

I Saw Her Standing There
Medley with “Whole Lotta Shakin’” & “Twist And Shout”, Single Man 1979 Tour

Twist And Shout
Medley with “Whole Lotta Shakin’” & “I Saw Her Standing There”, Single Man 1979 Tour

John Lennon
Dear Prudence
Weaved into “Too Low For Zero”, Breaking Hearts 1974 Tour

Give Peace A Chance
Weaved into “Take Me To The Pilot”, Elton John 1970 Tour

The Rolling Stones
Elton jammed with the Stones at their July 19, 1975 Colorado concert. “The Rolling Stones are perfect. I mean Jagger is the perfect pop star, there’s nobody more perfect than Jagger. He’s rude, he’s ugly, attractive, he’s brilliant”. The Stones are the perfect pop group, they’ve got it all tied up” said Elton.

Brown Sugar
At the end of “The Bitch Is Back”

Honky Tonk Women
Weaved into “Bennie And The Jets”, Ice On Fire 1985 Tour

Elvis Presley:
“When I met Elvis Presley, he looked like a tired old beached whale. I looked into his eyes and there was nothing there, just a look of vacancy where vitality had been. He’d just become a puppet” explained Elton, andd thinlin' about his childhood, reminded: “I still remember whern my mother came with Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotgel” and Bill Haley “ABC Boogie”, I really freaked when I heard them and I went on from here”

My Baby Left Me
Weaved into “Burn Down The Mission”, Elton John 1970 Tour

Hound Dog
Weaved into “Bennie And The Jets”, Single Man 1979 Tour

Don't Be Cruel
Weaved into “Bennie And The Jets”, Single Man 1979 Tour

Leon Russell
A Song For You
Medley with “Blue Eyes” & “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, Ice On Fire 1986 Tour
Elton John's American debut performance in Trobadour Club in Los Angeles, Leon Russell was in the audience and Elton had the opportunity to meet his idol.

Little Richard:“I used to get a certain amount of money each week and I remember buying a Little Richard record “She’s Got it” and “The Girl Can’t Help It”, my mum wouldn’t let me play it”

Good Golly Miss Molly
Weaved into “Bennie And The Jets”, 21 At 33 1980 Tour

“There are several people that I like and that are well, Hollywoodish in their way”

Singin' In The Rain
Weaved after “Think I’m Gonna Kill Myself”, Honky Chateau 1972 Tour
Larry “Legs” Smith danced live during the song. While Elton and the band left the stage for a while. When they entered, Larry and Elton took his seat at the piano to mime to the music: “Have a light?” “No” and started a dancing and singin’ rendition to the song (Elton had taking hoofing lessons for the ocasion).

(To Be Continued)

14 Apr 2008

Elton John Story Behind "It's Your Thing"

Isley Brothers employed Elton John as a keyboardist during their 1964 UK tour. Lead vocalist Ronald was a major influence on the development of modern R&B and hip-hop. By 1969, the Isleys had revived T-Neck and switched to funk, establishing their classic sound with smashes like "I Turned You On" and "It's Your Thing". This kicked off the Isleys' greatest chart run, which lasted through the mid-Eighties.

Elton chose this "Isley Brothers" hit "It's Your Thing" for fullfill his own hit "Rocket Man", which was played at the end of his current set list, in his US following concerts:

World Tour 1989

28/07/89 Hartford, CT
29/07/89 Providence, RI
30/07/89 Saratoga, NY
01/08/89 Mansfield, MA
02/08/89 Mansfield, MA
04/08/89 East Rutherford, HJ
06/08/89 East Rutherford, HJ
07/08/89 East Rutherford, HJ
08/08/89 Mountain View, CA
09/08/89 New Orleans, LA
10/08/89 Houston, TX
11/08/89 Dallas, TX
12/08/89 Kansas City, Kansas
15/08/89 Inglewood, CA
16/08/89 Inglewood, CA
18/08/89 Inglewood, CA
19/08/89 Costa Mesa, CA
20/08/89 San Francisco, CA
22/08/89 Denver, CO
26/08/89 Chicago, IL
27/08/89 Chicago, IL
29/09/89 Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
30/08/89 Noblesville, IN
01/09/89 Detroit, MI
02/09/89 Detroit, MI
03/09/89 Detroit, MI
12/09/89 Cincinnati, OH
13/09/89 Cincinnati, OH
15/09/89 Knoxville, TN
16/09/89 Atlanta, Georgia
17/09/89 Atlanta, Georgia
19/09/89 Pittsburgh, PA
22/09/89 Charlotte, NC
23/09/89 Chapel Hill, NC
25/09/89 Montreal, Canada
26/09/89 Montreal, Canada
27/09/89 Toronto, Canada
30/09/89 Philadelphia, PA
01/10/89 Philadelphia, PA
03/10/89 New York City, New York
04/10/89 New York City, New York
05/10/89 New York City, New York
06/10/89 New York City, New York
07/10/89 New York City, New York
13/10/89 Miami, FL
15/10/89 Orlando, FL

The Eltonite's Day (XIII): The One And Only... Maryinfl8

That was the 25th week, the Caribou week and today we have an special guest, from Orlando. Hi Maryinfl8, I am glad you accept it, it’s an honour for me. I really like your posts on eltonjohn official website forum and I am sure we have a great time chatting about Elton’s world.

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

I am Mary AKA MaryinFL8 from I was born and raised in Michigan, moved to Orlando, Florida USA in 1982 at the age of 23.

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

WOW!! If I remember correctly.. LOL I remember listening to Elton on the Radio singing Bennie & The Jets , I was 14 years old and fell in love with his music. The first album I remember buying was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973. Coming from a large musical family where everyone in the family played one or two musical instruments, being in the family band and playing for party's in the 70's, music was a big part of my life. Elton John's words & sound of his music really moved my soul as a teenager and also helped me through some family hard times growing up, I have been following his music since.

Ok! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?

Being from a large family and so young, then a poor college student I did not get to see Elton in person until the 80's. After graduating from college and moving to Orlando. I was able to go to a concert. It was one of the best days of my life. Of course back then it was like having an out-of-body experience! I do not remember how many concerts I have been to since, with 2 more Elton concerts in Florida coming up in a little over a week.

Nice!! Elton had his golden age era in the 70s, specially in your country, the U.S.A. Sometime, John Lennon told him: “if you die someday, I will throw my radio out the window”. It was that really?

I would agree with John Lennon. In the 70's when growing up in the USA you could not turn on the radio, watch TV, go to a store, drive down the road or pick up a magazine with out hearing Elton's music or seeing something with Elton John on it. As an adult, I go into store's and hear his music playing all the time even today. I do not even want to think of the thought of having to throw my radio out the window for that reason.

Well, as you know this is the “Caribou” Week. Do you think that album was a great following “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album? Should the record company left “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” went on producing more hit singles?

I think Caribou was a great album with Elton only having 8 days to record 14 numbers and this was the first time recording in the USA for Elton. Elton even stated that the album was recorded under the most excruciating circumstances and he thought he would never get the album out. I personally think it shows what a true musical genius Elton John was and is today. My favorites from the album are of course "The Bitch is Back" which today Elton uses at his concerts as one of his theme songs and always is on his piano while singing it. It always reminds me of Elton's very flamboyant days. "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" which the words and music have always reached deep down to my soul. "Pinky" was also a great song. "Ticking" Elton still sings this song in his solo concerts, we all know that Bernie wrote this song about the increasing violence in America. Which Elton shares at his concert is still a growing problem today.

With Elton signing a long contract with MCA that year and Elton and Bernie were doing nothing but music 24/7 in those days. Even with the pressures of recording all the albums. The music and songs were a testament of his God given talent. As Elton has stated those first 5 years he did some of his best work.

Ray Cooper joined the band for the Caribou Tour. What do you think about Ray? And which are your favourite band players of all time?

All I can put in words about Ray Cooper is "AWESOME" What a wonderful musician. WOW!!! favorite band players would be Davey, Nigel, Dee. In the last 10 years I do have to say I think Bob is great playing the bass and is one of my favorites. :-)

What do you think about next step Elton should do? Recording an album with new material? Doing more musicals? Retire?

On have heard that Elton is working on a new album which is wonderful music to my ears! Elton seems very happy having all the different musical avenues in his life and I say bravo Elton!! everything that makes you happy. We will not discuss that dirty word "retire".....heaven forbid!!! LOL

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

This is a hard question, I could go on for days talking about the many treasured items and experiences. I will try and keep it short (LOL) and if you would like the long stories you can email me for the details. Each one of my Elton John items have a special story & meaning with it that I will treasure always. I have a few items autographed by Elton. I really love & treasure the Red Piano Show (Las Vegas) Poster that Elton John autographed "To Mary, With Love, Elton John".

November of 2007, I had a sign made and took it to a concert, I got down front to get Elton to autograph the sign, I got just to the edge of the stage and threw the sign over the monitor hanging on to the edge of it. Elton did autograph it, when he put the sign back on the monitor it slipped out of my hands and onto the stage. Elton saw it fall on the stage and that I could not reach it, Elton slid the sign back to me with his foot so I could reach it. I had that sign, concert ticket, photos & the You Tube DVD of Elton autographing the sign professionally framed. It is an item I do appreciate.

An Elton John experience of a lifetime & dream came true for me on March 25,2008. I met some people from and went to see Elton John on his 61st birthday, The Red Piano Show in Las Vegas. Nancy & I were surprised when we got our tickets and they were 2nd row seats, right in front of Sir Elton John. Which meant we got to go onstage during SNAFF. SNAFF started...Off we went to the stage....there it was, that beautiful Red Piano and OMG...there he is ...ELTON, playing and singing, just waiting for me to get there so he could sing to me....LOL ;-) It was Nancy, Pinky & I, I was just behide/inbetween them, no one in front of us but our Knight, Sir Elton!! The RUSH of emtions was beyond words. Elton was inches away from us. Singing and playing, we could hear what his voice sounded like without a microphone. It was breathtaking to say the least. AMAZING!!! I could not stop watching Elton and smiling with my hand on that piano. When I put my hand on the piano it was another dream of a lifetime moment, I was watching Elton sing & playing the Red Piano, I could feel the music he was playing at that very moment going through my hand into my soul, my heart was overflowing!! Then Elton looked at me and then my shirt with the birthday card on it and then we locked eyes again and he said "Thank You", his eyes were so sincere when he said that. My heart melted and at the same time I was so happy that he acknowledged the birthday card which meant he got to see the flowers and EJAF donation from community forum members. This was more than I could have ever dreamed. Elton left the stage after the song, then he came back out onstage, he walked across the stage...I got my shirt out that I had made in Vegas that said "Happy Birthday Elton" on it in big purple and red letters....I held it out in front of me, as he came and stood in front of me, he looked at my shirt and looked at me and pointed at my shirt and told me "Thank you" well .....I said in my quiet voice(LOL), Happy Birthday Elton, he smiled. What a lifetime of many dreams coming true in one day and happening on such a very special day as Sir Elton John's 61st Birthday and with wonderful friends to share it with. I would love to tell Sir Elton John that his life and his music have made such a profound impact on my life, that my life will never be the same

The most recent Elton John treasure of a lifetime I received was a personal handwritten letter from Elton John himself.



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

Someone Saved My Life Tonight
I'm Still Standing
Are You Ready For Love
Can You Feel The Love Tonight

Thanks a bunch, Mary. Really a pleasure to chat with you again. Enjoyable experience. Take care.

12 Apr 2008

The Outtake: Ducktail Jiver

It was said that "Ducktail Jiver" would be finished and included as a bonus on an upcoming SACD reissue of "Caribou" album and that Davey Johnstone would add guitar to round out the recording. On the original session, Davey provided acoustic guitar. That project maybe would continued the "Elton John" and "Tumbleweed Connection" Deluxe editions.

Written by Bernie Taupin
Music by Elton John

"Loose lips keep him rolling on his whitewall tires
Burning out his diesel now, looking like a forest fire
Ducktail jiver, common pearl diver
Let you have a piece real cheap
Those Sunday sermons, gotta start learning
How to look before the lion leaps

Oh I'd be Santa Clause in something more
Than a honeymoon in San Moritz
Ducktail jiver, nine to fiver
I'd like to buy a piece that fits

Overloaded, railroaded
On the border of a Spanish town
Adios amigos, me got to go
Before they cut this poor boy down

So I'd like to buy a drink for someone
A pitcher and a glass
My circuit's run down, my fuse is blown
My childhood came at last

Sun-soaked, rain-choked
I need to get this battery charged
Miles behind my parents' time
Living in the world's back yard

10 Apr 2008

Unforgettable People (XVI): John Lennon

John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Oxford Street Maternity Hospital during a lull in the WWII bombing of Liverpool, England. He formed his first band at age sixteen. Paul McCartney attended a performance in 1957 and shortly afterward became a member. George Harrison eventually joined and, later, Pete Best, who was replaced by Ringo Starr. Known variously as the Quarry Men, they finally settled on the name the Beatles.

John complimented Elton when he said “there was something about his vocals that was an improvement on all the english vocals till then”. Lennon certainly looked up to the younger musician and admired his stamina. They became friends and exchanged experiences when John recorded with Elton, as “Dr. Winston O’Boggie” on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” . “I couldn’t believe it when I went to their New York apartment” reminded Elton about meeting John and Yoko. “Yoko has a refrigerated room for all her fur coats. And she has rooms full of those clother racks like they have in Marks and Sparks. She makes me look ridiculous. I buy things in threes and fours. She buys fifty. The funny thing is that you rarely see her wearing them”.

He became the last of four ex-Beatles to hit the US number one. Elton played in the “Walls And Bridges” sessions for “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” single. Recognizing the song’s potential, Elton made a bargain with John that if the disk goes to number one, John have to appear in concert with him. John accepted. On Thanksgiving Night, Lennon made what would be his final concert appearance at Madison Square Garden in New York, with a standing ovation for more than twenty minutes, they did three songs, after Davey Johnstone tunned his guitar due to nerves: “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. That day John and Yoko ended their personal troubles and, thanking Elton for that, he became the godfather to Sean Taro Ono Lennon, born on 9th October 1975.

On the sad of one 8th December 1980 day, Lennon and Yoko returned home from the recording and entered the courtyard of the Dakota building, Lennon turned around when he heard: “Mr. Lennon?”. He was miserable shot five times by Mark Chapman and died of blood loss shortly ater at the Roosevelt Hospital, he was dead on arrival... Rest in peace John!!

9 Apr 2008

The Story Behind "Solar Prestige A Gammon"

Elton’s inspiration came from the so-called Long Medley at the end of The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album, which inspired him to sing with a nonsense italian accent. As Elton’s request, Bernie wrote this obscure lyric, fed up about asking him for the meanings of their songs: in “Border Song” he was accused of being anti-semitic, in “Madman Across The Water” some would find president Richard Nixon behind the story, “take Me To The Pilot” and “Grey Seal” incomprehensive meanings, “Daniel”’s homosexuality theories, etc etc. “I thought it could be great to write a song with english words that didn’t mean a thing, but that sounded fantastic when put together” explained Elton at that time.

“Turbert”, “salmon”, “hair ring”, “sardin” and “cod” maybe referenced to the five loaves and five fishes that Jesus imparted to the faithful, as one theory goes. It is a view that could easily flounder since there is a “floundin” in there, and there are no loaves.

Gus Dudgeon thought “Solar Prestige A Gammon” was a piece of scrap.

8 Apr 2008

The Story Behind "The Bitch Is Back"

Bernie revealed that his then wife Maxine coined the song’s recurring phrase in response to one of Elton’s notoriously bad moods “Oh God! The bitch is back” and the song was born. The line “I can bitch cause I am better than you” is a piece of self-analyzation, relating one of Elton’s frequent temperamental “bad momentos”.

Some segments of the gay community, have taken the song as a signal of his sexuality. Recently was prohibited by government Bush to receive radio airplay due to unappropiated words.

The Story Behind "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me"

Elton described the song as his own “Beach Boys” tribute and both Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston were singing backups. When Nigel Olsson heard the song for first time “it hit me, and I ran downstairs right to him (Elton) and said that it would be a number one hit”.

It was a significant ballad for both Elton and Bernie because on that time they were through mental state problems. The pressure of success and music business was attaching their lives: Elton was drinking half a bottle of scotch whisky a day, and his hair was disappearing, and Bernie felt scared about growing tired and frustrated.

The vocals took so many times that Elton wanted to drop the song and giving it to Lulu as a demo, or to Engelbert Humperdinck: “I said “if you put this on the album I’ll sodding well shoot you”” remembered Elton that was said to Gus Dudgeon. “I thought it was the worst vocal of all time”. Philip Noman on his biography about Elton, got Gus sensations about that episode: “(Elton) was filthy mood, one some takes he’d scream it, on others he’d mumble it. Or he just stand there, staring at the control room”. The song finally earned a grammy nomination for Best Vocal Performance.

In 1991 the song dominated American and European music charts when it was released as a duet with George Michael. Elton tried to persuade George from releasing it thinking it would hurt his career: “Maybe you think twice about putting a live single out, this is a very crucial time for you. I left that on his answerng machine and he phoned back and said: No, it’s gonna be fine!” explained Elton.

7 Apr 2008

The Eltonite day (XII): the special guest is... Andrea!!!!

2004 was the first time I could have the privilege to see Elton´s live promoting an album. It was in Milan, Elton was recording a special show for MTV Music Italy. I could find great eltonites there, great people. One of those is Andrea, who still remains a good friend. Hi Andrea, nice to "hear from you" again and thank you for accepting the invitation to do this interview. Italians do love Elton so much and his concerts are easily sold outs. He has also a house in Venice and visits Italy frequently. I am sure you are agree with that but...

First... Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?
Ciao I'm Andrea, a boy from Italy of 35 years old and my life is the music.

OK! When you became an Eltonite?
The first cd that arrived in my house was Reg Strikes Back album. There are many songs that I like: A Word in Spanish, I don't wanna go on you.., Town of plenty. Before that record, my favourite artist was Paul McCartney.

Remember the first time you heard Elton´s music and what moves you to buy his music?
The episode that has changed my life was the concert in the arena of Verona in 1989!!!!Was my first big concerts: and after that, I've seen live many time Elton and many many best artist of the world.

Fine! Which are your favourite albums, or the Elton´s must to have songs that should have been in an eltonite ipod?
My favourite albums are all the first albums: Tumbleweed connection, Goodbye yellow brick road, Captain Fantastic, Don't shoot me, Madman, Blue Moves and, in the 90s, Made in England and The One.

Nice!! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been?
My first time was in Verona at famous arena in 1989. I've seen him in concert 11 times: and one at Pavarotti international. 1 time at Fenice in Venice. But my favourite concert was in Milan with Ray Cooper in 1994.

Well, as you know this is the "Peachtree Road" Week. What do you think about Elton as the self-producer? Do you like the mood of the album?
This album is quite good but I preder Songs from the w. coast album. In this album there weren't too many hits and too much ballad and only one rock'n'roll track. In the last Elton album unfortunately there wasn't Ray Cooper.

Perfect!! Why do you think this album was disastrous, in sales terms? Were you agree with the record company `s selection for the singles? If not, which songs whould have been singles?
For me the only possible singles should have been the cat and answer in the sky. The flop was because the universal company didn't promoted enough elton.

How was the success of Elton John in your country? Which references had italians about Elton, specially in the 70s and 80s? And the most succesful albums? Could you still hear Elton´s music now on radio stations?
For me Elton in italy have been selling too many records but the music papers and the critic don't appreaciate him. The papers speak about him more for the fact that he is gay, or for his customs, and other thinks like glasses. Here, has sold good: the one, don t shoot me and reg strikes back. And, Naturally, Candle in the wind 97.

I see... 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?
It isn't an item but the moment when I met him in Venice in 1996: I remember that day because there was Gianni Versace too. I've met him before at a Versace Shop!!Unforgettable day but unfortunately the picture when I met him, it was cancelled in the camera!!!

What a pitty!!! Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John´s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?
Rocket man, Your Song, Skyline pigeon, Bennie & the Jets, Harmony... But a list is impossible to do!! There are too much!!

Thanks a bunch, Andrea. Really a pleasure to chat with you again. My best wishes and greetings. Take care.

1 Apr 2008

The Story Behind “Freaks In Love”

Bernie’s way to celebrate the imperfection of superficial world and physical beauty. He champions the outsiders who happily exists on the fringes of the norm and revel in the individuality: “We’re antique and unacceptable and we’re just misunderstood”.