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23 Sep 2010

1970: The Singles Music Charts

Border Song

United States
N. 92 (5 Weeks)

Canada
N. 34 (11 Weeks)

Australia
N. 9 (30 Weeks)

New Zealand
N. 7 (20 Weeks)

Holland
N. 25 (3 Weeks)

---------------

Your Song

United States
N. 8 (14 Weeks)

Canada
N. 3 (15 Weeks)

United Kingdom
N. 7 (12 Weeks)

Ireland
N. 13 (4 Weeks)

Australia
N. 11 (20 Weeks)

New Zealand
N. 18(2 Weeks)

Holland
N. 4 (5 Weeks)

21 Sep 2010

1970: The Albums Reachin' Charts

Elton John

United States
N. 4 (51 Weeks)

United Kingdom
N. 11 (14 Weeks)

Canada
N. 4 (46 Weeks)

Australia
N. 2 (24 Weeks)

Holland
N. 5 (22 Weeks)

Japan
N. 40 (28 Weeks)

---------------

Tumbleweed Connection

United States
N. 5 (37 Weeks)

United Kingdom
N. 6 (20 Weeks)

Canada
N. 4 (38 Weeks)

Australia
N. 4 (35 Weeks)

Holland
N. 11 (25 Weeks)

Spain
N. 7 (1 Week)

Japan
N. 30 (18 Weeks)

18 Sep 2010

Songs About Elton John

"Empty Garden" is a tribute to John Lennon, "Cage The Songbird" to Edith Piaf, "Candle In The Wind" to Marylin Monroe; that's all well known. But I just thought: is there anywhere songs written as a tribute to Elton John?

Tom Robinson penned a song for Elton for "The Fox" album, after collaborating on the 21 At 33 sessions. The story about two student gays was not about Elton as it could seem, just it was Elton who wrote the title "Elton's Song" when he picked up the collection of lyrics Robinson wrote for his album. It was Elton's song, a song for Elton. But certainly there are few artists who counts Elton John as an idol, and dedicate a song to him.

The first female 'rocker' of the francophone world, Diane Dufresne has often been compared to Édith Piaf for her sensitive and powerful performances. She released in 1972 an album which had a song called «En Écoutant Elton John», which translates “While Listening To Elton John”, by lyricist Luc Plamondon, who wrote many of her most popular songs. It was a big success, reaching Number 5 in the Top 10 French-Canadian Songs. Dufrense continued her work into the 21st century, winning many awards along the way.

"En Écoutant Elton John"

Not climb the curtains,
Not climb on your high horse,
Try to stay so cool.
What makes you suddenly shouting
Like a fool, you'd better change the mood.

But mostly,
Come talk to me of love, no, no, no, no,
Not after everything you just said there.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.

Speaking of love in stereo
That rest me of the sound of your voice.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.

Not climb in columns,
Do not scare the birds,
Don't wake up the whole street.
Come you not hang around my neck, not just lick me
The knees like a poor lost dog.

And mostly,
Come talk to me of love, no, no, no, no,
Not after everything you just said there.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.
"

Plamondon developed a close working partnership with Michel Berger, frequently getting together throughout 1976 to work on a new joint musical entitled "Starmania". Elton John also was a great Berger fan, he knew all his hits by heart, and contacted him to collaborate on two duets with France Gall, Berger's wife. Precisely, Berger composed in 1980"Il Jouait Du Piano Debout" for Gall, a tribute to Elton John that climbed to No 1 in French Singles Charts. The title means "Playing The Piano Standing Up" and it goes:

"Il Jouait Du Piano Debout"

"Don't tell me this guy was crazy
He doesn't live like the others, that's it
And for strange reasons
People who aren't like us
They bother us

Don't tell me this boy was no good
He chose another way
And for strange reasons
People whom think diference
They bother us
They bother us

He played the piano standing up
It may seems trivial to you
But for me it means a lot
That means he was free
Happy to be there anyway
He played the piano standing up
When the cowards are on their knees
And the soldiers on parade
Simply on their feet
He wanted to be him, you understand

Some just for their music, they are patriots
It would be death on the battlefield for some notes
And for strange reasons
People whom tkae their dreams
They bother us

He and his piano, sometimes they cried
But it's when the others were not there
And for strange reasons
His image has marked my memory
My memory

He played the piano standing up
It may seems trivial to you
But for me it means a lot
That means he was free
Happy to be there anyway
He played the piano standing
He sang on crazy rhythms
And for me it means a lot
It means: "trying to live"
"Try to be happy, it's worth it
"

Another singer, Don Partridge explained his experiences of life on the road, on the autobiographical song "The Night I Met Elton John", 2004. In the 60s, Partridge was a successful solo entertainer who released "Rosie", a number 4 in the UK Singles Charts in March 1968 and "Blue Eyes", a Top 3 song which reads "Blue eyes look my way, Make today my lucky day, Blue eyes looking at me, Hope you're liking what you see (...) Blue eyes shining down, Everything is right somehow". Elton years later asked Gary Osborne to do a song with the same title. Another coincidence, Partridge has his own "Elderberry Wine" song. However, Don was too unconventional even for the music business and after touring Britain with a band of fellow street musicians and organising a "Buskers Happening" at the Albert Hall, he abandoned stardom for a life on the road. After more than thirty years of travelling, kept alive by busking and selling books of poetry, Don Partridge agreed to record a selection of his songs for Longman Records in 2004.

"Elton is 'chuffed' at least; Mary Lee's song pleases hit maker" reads a headline of Washington Post in 2006. The article began when Mary Lee's Corvette, a New York-based band led by Michigan-born singer-songwriter Mary Lee Kortes, invoked the name of the english pop icon on a song called "Where Did I Go Wrong, Elton John", 2006. “He said he was quite chuffed and that his entourage, who were all around listening with him, went around singing the song to him for days” said Mary Lee explaining that it was her homage to music's transportive properties.

"Where Did I Go Wrong, Elton John"

"You meant the world to me
Through your glasses I could see
Every little thing I could be
I hung on your every word

And your melodies conferred
That my dreams were within reach
Every question had an answer
I could fly, this tiny dancer

Where did I go wrong, Elton John
Thought I wrote the perfect song
To sing along
Maybe even lean upon
But I was wrong so wrong
Elton John

Mornings turned into bad days
But I grew up anyways
I wished you were my father
Cause you pulled me cross mad water

I heard music in my heart
Surely good would come from art
An innocent misunderstanding
But look at me I'm still standing

You're part of the best part of me
One day the whole world might see
But I think it's going to be
A long, long time

Well the day is getting long
You could say this is your song
Though you'll probably never hear it
You've taken me somewhere

Far from things I cannot bear
Wish I could do the same for you
So I'll send this off to you
It's not much but it's the best I can do
"

And Vito Cole from Wayne, Nebraska, has been doing the singer-songwriter/band thing for about 10 years until releasing his debut album in 2002, "Someone I used to know". "I wrote this song 1 month after the unexpected passing of my father" reminded Vito while adding: "He had a very large record collection which we listened to together until the day he died..... We listened to everything from swinging with sammy kaye to brownsville station, Tom Waits to professor longhair, but we always seem to come back to elton john!!!!!". He was referring to the song "Elton John's Glasses", the one that ended the album. "So many great songs, so many memories of the record room at dad's house.... I miss my dad terribly but hearing elton always makes me remember him smiling, and playing his beautiful air guitar!!!" concluded.

"Elton John's Glasses"

"I'm gonna write comic book characters from mars
They don't like earth people but they sing kereoke at bars
They have pierced genitalia
And tattoos on their asses
And they love elton john's glasses

The main characters name is vito,
Cuz its a pretty good name,
It happens to be my name,
maybe that's a coincidence,
I don't know but I don't have pierced genitalia
or tattoos on my asses
I've heard of the baby jesus,
and I'm indifferent to elton john's glasses

My dad's favorite song might have been this one
Cuz he liked things that made him laugh
He's been dead for 3 years now,
I'm sorry this last verse is so sad,
But I'm trying to put up my front so u won't know this,
I'm writing him a song so he will know this
Cuz without him around I feel like I'm from mars


But everybody could be agree that the best lyric composed about Elton, is penned by Leon Russell. "When he first played that song we were all moved to tears", Elton says. "Then he said, “Thank you for saving my life”, and I lost it completely. It was one of the greatest moments of my life". Leon sings "The Hands of Angels", in the manner of a backwoods gospel song, celebrating a kind of rebirth. Russell underwent surgery for a brain fluid leak in January, threatening a Union retreat: "Well I could have been sick, I could have died". Also, he gives thanks to Elton for 'a brand new start’: "I wanted to give Elton something for all he was giving me," Russell says. "I asked my wife, 'What do you give a guy who has six fully staffed houses and 10 of everything else in the world?' When I sang it the first time, it was too high. But Elton liked it."

"The Hands Of Angels"

"Well I could have been sick
I could have died
I could have given up
And not tried
To make it to tomorrow
Like a broken hearted lover

But there was a brand new start
And suddenly I was taken
New and faraway places
And the music I was shaken

It was a whole new race
When I woke on that first day
There was nothing I could say
I was in the hands of angels

Johnny and the governor
Came and brought me to my senses
They made me feel just like a king
Made me lose all my bad defenses

And they knew all the places
I needed to go
All of the people
I needed to know
They knew who I needed
And who needed me
And who would come help me
And who would just let me be

I was in the hands of angels
Until this very day
Inside the hands of angels
What more can I say

When you're in the hands of angels
Life is oh so sweet
And you feel the love
Down deep inside
Even out there on the street

In the hands of angels"


end of part one

sources:
allmusic.com, cdbaby.com, Christian Rioux "La Encyclopedia Of Music In Canada", francegall.com, maryleescorvette.com

4 Sep 2010

An Interview With Claude Bernardin: author of “Rocket Man: The Music of Elton John A to Z”

Hello Eltonites. Our first guest of the season is the man on my side, someone who knows almost everything about Elton. "After almost 15 years of silence, I have agreed to a full interview with Elton John fans Worldwide" says as an introduction. God! I am nervous, really nervous. I chatted with him long time ago and I asked him to do this interview. After a silence, he agreed. We have so much things to talk on, ladies and gentlemen, he's the guest of the weekend, he's the fantastic, the incredible, the one... Mr. Claude Bernardin!!!!.

Welcome Claude, so happy to have you here, thanks so much for the acceptation.


First of let me say this, it is a pleasure and an honor that you asked me to do this. You are the first group to ever do this, and that makes me laugh a bit. You have said some amazingly kind words to me about my book, and I just thank you for the opportunity.

It’s really an honour to have you here, really. First it was a brief bio about you. Then the article about the book, a book for eltonites really. But the first question to the interview is obvious: When did you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton's music and what moves you to buy his music?

Not until 1972, “the Honky Chateau” album. It was “Rocket Man” that made me a die hard fan. But “Levon”, the year earlier, helped it along.

Levon, yeah!

The First Time I ever heard Elton’s music was in 1970. My older sister and older brother asked me if I had heard this guy, this song, and they said just listen to the radio, you’re gonna love this... and so I waited by the radio one day, and eventually “Border Song” came on and they were right, I fell in love with it. I was 13 years old. Months later my older sister broke up with her boyfriend, sometime in November of 1970. She came in from her bad date, crying, threw “the Elton John” album down on the dinning room table and exclaimed, “Here! Take this! I don’t want this, he broke up with me!” Next day I couldn’t stop playing it. That week, I went to my friends house and he had “Tumbleweed Connection”. I was stunned by it. I couldn’t stop playing “Talking Old Soldiers”, “My Father’s Gun” and “Amoreena”.

The First Elton John album I ever bought was in 1971 at the King Of Prussia Mall, in King Of Prussia, Pa. My older sister ( same one ) and I were out at a local drive in theatre watching “Planet of the Apes”. On our way later on to the Mall, she had the car radio playing and they announced we have this new song by Elton John. I will never forget that moment, we were in a copper and white 1957 Chevy, a Classic, ( not at that time, it was a beat up bomb back then :) ) and on came “Levon”. I was going to the Mall to by some Tropical Fish, my hobby back then, and instead went right to the record store and bought “Madman Across The Water.”

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

I saw Elton of course on TV and at the Movies first ( Cher Show, Tommy ) and I did not see him live until 1976. My father thought I was too young to go to a show in 1974 so he wouldn’t take me. I regret that.

But I went with my older brother to the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1976. I sat across the hall, as far as one can get from Elton. It didn’t matter, it was glorious. I was annoyed at the fans though, lighting M-80’s off, smoking pot. I also felt the band was loud, maybe too loud and over powering. I wanted to hear more Elton piano. It only later occurred to me, that’s what Elton wanted, a big band so he could hide and relax a bit more. But I loved the show. The “Jukebox” stage look. The gold and clear flashing piano ( Lady Ga Ga Style ). The banana. I mostly remember “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Meal Ticket”, “Someone Saved My Life” and “Empty Sky”. I was blown away by those. And of course “Rocket Man’. That was I think July.

And in September I was watching TV at like 9 and on came The Edinboro, Scotland show... HOLY GOD! I was hooked to live concerts ever since. I still love that show. One of his all time best concerts, and one of the best versions of “60 Years On”. I have now lost count of how many shows I’ve been too. I wrote a review, I really liked that review of the show I saw In Reading, Pa. a few months ago. I guess somewhere in the neighbourhood of 52 shows.

I imagine you sure have some anecdotes you could share with us of concerts you’ve seen...

This next question , um I have so many hmmm....

Well as I said so many. I’ve had Elton bow to me, I’ve had Elton get down on stage and sign an autograph on one of my paintings ( 1993 ). I’ve had guards point at me in shows for Elton, then Elton bow to me on his hands and knees for gifts I gave him through the guards ( “Paintings” ). Fans don’t believe any of this.

Oh, why not? please, come on, Claude.

Here’s one. My book came out in 1995, I met Elton that fall I think In Columbus. It’s now 2005 and I’m in Boston, Mass. For the “Captain Fantastic” show. Sitting 13th row near the piano. Elton starts to do “Philadelphia Freedom” and I see him thinking, he smiles turns side ways, I’m day dreaming ( I’ve heard the song a million times LOL! ) and suddenly I realize, Oh My God, he’s turning to sing this to me, and I look at him and he starts smiling a she sings it to me. Afterwards I did the “I am Not Worthy” bow thing to him and he smiled.

Another?

We were at the Radio City Show. The Orchestra thing, 2004. And we had great seats, center stage height. Right in front of his piano. He comes out looks into the audience I see him smile as he sees me. He finishes the opening number, was it “Border Song”?

Sixty years on, I think.

I think so, and he sees I’m crying and he smiles at me, like...yep...gotcha! I knew you’d love this a such as I do.” And I cried even more. I didn’t know his music could sound that beautiful again. Like reliving my youth. That first album. Later in the show he kept smiling, and he gets to “Tell Me When The Whistle Blows”, he had to have somehow known through my begging posts the year before I loved the song and wanted it in the line up. The day they called to tell me he had put it in the line up I was stunned. So there it begins and he’s looking over at me, like..”Ok, Kiddo, what ya think now?!!!!” and I’m doing the arm bowing thing to him, he cracks up, misses his singing cue and sticks his tongue out at me! LOL!

More? Listening you ;)

1986- I had him stunned with signs in front rows in Philly with song titles like “Angel Trees”, he was like “how do you know that stuff???!” :)

1988, The Reg Strikes Back Tour: My wife and I and several fans, including my crazy buddy Keith, and the "Lyric Master". We all piled into a car with our tickets. We stopped at a local hardware store to buy lighters ( for the encore ) and a few things. We saw something, it registered to us immediately. A line in a new single, the song was, “A Word In Spanish.” So we laughed at it, and bought it and brought it with us. I had signs, one fan dressed in all white and a cane, ( the Hits album look ). We had third row center, right in front of the piano. :) We were ready. Only one problem we had an extra ticket. Keith’s plan go to the show and try to sell it to a fan to get our money back. I wasn’t keen on this, I was the wimp in those days.

We get to the Spectrum, in Philadelphia, Pa. and my friend Keith again starts, he had his quirks...LOL but I loved him. He loved T shirts with Elton’s picture on them, but he was BIG, I mean a BIG man. You couldn’t buy shirts in his size. On the street, the bootleggers you could, but they always had guards to arrest you. I told him, “NO! not this time... look he’s dressed as Elton, I got all these signs, and you look like a walking billboard advertisement for Elton. :) they’ll spot us a mile away and we won’t get to see the show. NO!” He doesn’t listen, of course not...:) And so he starts buying shirts, not one mind you SHIRTS!!! :) Guards come over, they take our money, they take our shirts, they take my signs and they take our object we bought. We had to go with them into an office. We begged them, they eventually gave my signs back, we left Keith still negotiating with them about others things. There we are... down on the floor, just before show time... wondering how Keith is doing back with the guards, when suddenly there he comes...LOL! This Huge hulk Bear of a man, walking through the entire stadium to the front... with our Blow Up Ghost! And its 6 feet tall! LOL! We said, “Keith, how did you get the Ghost Back?” He said, “Simple I simply told them when they said to me that the ghost would be a distraction and an obstruction during the show... No, why? he has his own ticket!!!!!!!!!” :) LOL!!!!!!!!!!! We howled at this! And thus the Ghost sat in his own seat smiling back at the Band, who all during the show kept pointing at it wondering why and what for? LOL! and eventually we got to the spot in the show where Elton goes to sing the new song as he approached the line...UP came the Ghost!...”You glide right through me as if I was a ghost!!!!!!!!!” LOL! The entire band broke up, all back up singers were laughing, even Elton was trying not to laugh, but I saw him smile. Everyone couldn’t believe we went through all of that just for a bad pun! A stupid joke ... I still have the bag the ghost came in that bag hangs on my door in my studio. What became of the ghost? the audience claimed him....:)

Hahahahahahahaha, great Keith!!

Now my favorite memory: 1992 I think, dates all blend. I was in Nashville. Before the book, met Tom there. To discuss the book. Was to meet Nigel Olsson there. I was too caught up in my own, ya know the fan thing? What “we” need or want, not what “They” need to see this next thing. At the time I was a stupid idiot. Today I am laugh about it. I’m not that guy anymore. Everything broke loose after that year. Met Elton, Band everything. The book. But by 1992, I was tired. I had tried to meet Elton so many ways, gifts, front row seats, even had backstage passes once, Elton got sick and couldn’t come out to meet us. At Nashville this buddy Keith ( my best friend at the time ) and I, we are sitting in the rafters, our seats sucked, terrible seats. I’m watching fans schmoozing it up with John Reid, getting where I thought, I always wanted to be. I said to Keith, “damn, here we sit, they’re there we never get there. And hell you even drove band members home from shows!” ( Keith was a taxi and limo driver in NYC. ) He goes, “Oh, stop whining... its cause you’re too shy, ya gotta be bold like me, be a New Yorker!” So I took him on his word and there we were sneaking, telling falsehoods, and slipping into the back stage. We got thrown out twice, ran into Nigel and his wife, Bernie, Rod Stewart. Probably scared them all. LOL! Laughing the whole time. Me yelling at him, “Let’s go idiot! before we get arrested!” I hated doing it this way. I was annoyed at him to say the least. Suddenly the lights back stage start blinking, “I say let’s go now! “ he says, “wait here maybe Elton will come out the door, and then the door opens and out walks a laughing Nigel Olsson. “They warn us to stay out of trouble, and wish us good luck” we laugh. They go out into the arena to their seats. The lights go out. I turn and whisper to him, “You dummy! now what do we do!” Keith says, “Wait here, lights will come up, then we run to our seats.” I step through this curtain into the stadium by the side of the stage, stage was maybe 3 feet off the ground. Lights suddenly come up and people start popping camera’s at me! I’m standing there like ...”wuh, huh?” I start laughing, out comes Elton. He’s standing right next to me, he’s looking at me and laughing, I’m looking at him and laughing... I shrug my shoulders and start for the aisle grabbing Keith with me. Lights go out I can’t see, lights come on as I’m rushing forward up the aisle... escape! And suddenly this thin guy wearing a baseball cap gets up in the aisle to adjust his seat. I couldn’t stop! I knocked the poor guy down to the floor. I pick him up, as I apologized, and ... It’s Nigel Olsson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) Nigel I swear to you it happened just like that. I felt so bad. It wasn’t my fault! I blame dummy Keith! Last time I ever listened to him! Last time I ever tried stalking! LOL! I am amazed that after that stupid stunt, 3 years later I met him. Again Nigel I am sorry about that. What an idiot I was. LOL!

Poor Nigel. And your best book memory?

The interview I did with Nigel Olsson. Nigel called my house and was wonderful. This is where Nigel told me about the song “Welcome to my Haunted Heart”. Elton gave it to him to someday record, saying I can’t handle those high vocals this is perfect for you. Nigel liked the song. The song is said to be in the vein of “Levon”. This all happened JUST before the trip to Nashville. Sometime after that, I think, or just before it... I had received a copy of an interview Elton gave in Australia. Within it, Elton for the first time ever, discussed firing Dee and Nigel by phone and how awful he felt and how he still felt guilt over that. ( the 1975 incident ). I knew Nigel had wanted to hear this for years. I knew he hated that Dee never heard it. So we got a hold of him, Nigel asked me to play the tape, there I was holding my “Captain” album in one hand, phone in the other. I think he asked me to play it twice, he said nothing. I could hear him, I think crying on the other end. It was so weird, so wild. It’s still my best moment ever. I have only recently told that story to a few on a message board. I kept that one for years. Amazing.

Wow, great story. So, which people related to Elton you have met?

Hmmm, this is a long list. Let’s see.... Elton John, Bob Haley, Bernie Taupin ( for one second literally :) ), Nigel Olsson, Davey Johnstone, Sugarfoot Jonathan Moffet, Romeo Williams, The Girl singers of “the Sleeping With The Past Tour”. Clive Franks. Charlie Morgan, Bob Birch, and Guy Babylon. That’s good enough. Davey once sat with us in my friends car in China Town, NY after an ’86 show. Listened to the broadcast of “I’m Still Standing” from I think, hmmm the Prince’s trust concert, with us. He gave us a heads up on the “Leather Jackets” album . :)

How you met Elton? We could see you and Tom Stanton with Elton, on that picture...

I met Elton in 1995 in Columbus Ohio. I had some close encounters before then, but this was the one time thing. Meeting Elton is one of the hardest things to do. He has so many people looking after him. Even to get backstage is near impossible. I was lucky, and I do not think it would have ever happened if it wasn’t for Tom Stanton of East End Lights. Tom and I met in Nashville in 1992 The Dee Murray Tributes shows. ("The “North” live for the first time AHHH! God I loved it). I brought with me my manuscript of “Rocket Man” it was then called “Your Songs: Just Words and a Tune”. So one can see why I might be slightly annoyed that later a book came out with a “very Similar” title. I had my title Copyrighted. Anyway, it was Tom who got us together. It was a dream come true. Tom soon came on board with the book as Editor and Format advisor. Most of the research was mine. I had done 5 years at the Free Library in Philadelphia researching everything Elton. :) But, yeah it was all a wonderful dream.

I sat on stage with the band, for rehearsals. Heard them practicing to a taped new piano solo by Elton for “Levon” which was awesome to hear through the speakers, just Elton’s solo piano flying! I chatted with the band as I sat on the speakers, even asked them for a copy of that tape :) bold I am LOL!. They invited me back stage to eat dinner with them, I did. And then Elton and Ray arrived in a big limo. As I sat there, Elton got out, he could see in the window. He kept glancing at me, smiling,... minutes, later, we were in a room. Glass doors, guards. Bob Haley walked up to me, said, “Hi, you must be Claude” I was stunned. He took us back into Elton’s room. We sat down on sofas, and seconds later Elton literally jumped into the room all smiles and joking. I was stunned. I froze. Now you have to understand, I was the loud mouth fan, the one wiling to stick my neck out and say things like, “Oh, come on Elton change the songs!” and now I am meeting this Legend. I froze! LOL! and he reached out his hand, gently and shook my hand and made a joke as I stuttered out, “Oh, My God...it’s really you!” and suddenly I realized he’s a guy, just a normal nice man, yes a Legend but still down to earth and friendly. And we were cool. Things I recall: ok this one will probably get me in trouble...LOL! One his belly was bigger than mine! And I have a big belly! LOL! Two his Head was enormous, larger than it should be for his body. Truly I had never noticed it before. A Lot of hair or something. LOL! And then I just loved the Pink Diamond suite and the purple/pink glasses. He went and got us all cokes. We talked about “The Boston Tea Party Show” his memory was amazing! I said, “yeah the show you were introduced... and he goes as “Elton James” LOL! and we laughed. He laughed at the sight of the “Bluesology” 45’s and said, “You don’t really listen to those do you?” I smiled and said...yeah.

(silence)

The camera broke as we were posing, so I got to stand with Elton’s arm around me waiting for a new camera, for several minutes. It was a bit awkward for him I suppose, so to lighten the mood I teased him and said, let’s play Elton trivia? He laughed and said, “Ok”... I said, “I’ll name a song in reference and you see if you can name it? “first song up, a ballad, you wrote it i like 1979/1980. A pretty thing with Gary Osborne. It never came out.” He smiles and says, “Sweet Heart On Parade.” Then he told me a story about how Liza Minnelli was to soon record it. I told him I loved the song.

Later on we chatted about “Talking Old Soldiers”. I told him that song is one of my all time favorites and I was so happy after all this time he had played it live again with Ray Cooper. He smiled, thanked me and said, “It’s one of my all time favorite songs”. We went into a large hall, pictures taken, he guided me around as he gargled with Ice cubes, apologizing but telling me had too since the throat surgery, and roadies milled about. He kept joking with them about getting their arses out of the way and they would laugh. He slipped away, and came out with my 45’s and Cd’s all signed personally to me. And then we said our goodbyes. Oh, earlier I told him how his music saved my life, changed my life and the world is a better place because of his talents.

The next I recall, we were seated in the 3rd row in front of the piano, seconds later lights came up, out walked Elton who spent the entire show, smiling at me and playing to me. 17,000 fans in attendance and doubtful if one even knew what he was doing a she began to play, “Rocket Man” right to me. I got the smiles, head nods, a slight bow, I was in Heaven. Still seems like a weird dream to me. It was day I will never forget. The only sad note, I wanted so bad for all my EJ buddies on the East Coast to be with me. I still regret that they couldn’t come. I almost said no to going when they told me it was an impossibility. So hard to do that.

How’s he in a personal view?

Elton is a complete and genuine person to fans. But you have to show you care. And contrary to my rather vocal, image via the Internet which gives everyone the wrong idea because no one knows the whole picture, I think I showed him that. I think he respects and knows very well who the good fans are. I don’t stalk Elton, that sickens me. I speak my mind, yes. I’m my own man. I am a terrible Political person, I just emote too much! Too passionate I suppose, it’s the Artist in me.

I’ll say this, he is still wonderful to me during Concerts wherever, or whenever I attend. If I get close enough to stage he shows me he knows.

Precisely about concert, I would like to ask you somethings related. First, which could be a great set list, in your opinion? Is there any song that Elton hasn’t played yet, and you think that he should do it?

Wow! I have spent far too many hours on the Internet begging, and screaming for EJ to change the set list over the last 13 years. I have way to big a mouth! :) this is a hard subject with me anymore. I see both sides of it now, I’m a slow learner... sorry Elton. :)

See, I think for the age and knowledge of his fan base Worldwide, now, at this juncture of his Career, he is probably playing the best set list. They want the hits, let’s face it, that’s what his true solid fan base wants. They own only his Hits packages. They have never heard of “The Retreat”.

They want their chance to see a Legend, and the Legend must deliver to his fans, his Legendary Hits. Now I, a die hard fan, long time fan, grow weary, of course of this. It is hard on us. Probably equally hard on Elton’s band. I doubt they enjoy playing “Bennie” every night, but what can they do? What I would do is try to find a better balance, like McCartney does. Switch it up. Take ten out, put ten in.

I’d love to have “Healing Hands”, “Club At The End Of The Street”, “Friends”, “Bad Side Of The Moon” and “Simple Life” back in the set. But what I really want? “Blues For Baby and Me”, “Chameleon”, “One More Arrow”, “Belfast”, “Blue Avenue”, “The Retreat”. I’m a die hard, I now recognize that’s just not going to happen. The best line up we got in Decades, in my opinion, was His 60th Birthday Concert at Madison Square Garden. I mean “Ballad Of A Well Known Gun?” “High Flying Bird”? I’ve been begging for these songs for 25 years!

Without a doubt the song that saddens me the most, that Elton has ignored Live is “It’s Getting Dark In Here”. I happen to love that song and that’s an understatement. I can’t explain it, how some songs just can get to you? Boy that one sure gets to me.

Do you prefer the Elton’s solo tours or better with band? And with the same musicians as his current band or you miss someone of the past?

I like both Sets, the Band Shows and The Solo Shows, They are different. I guess the Solo shows, only because we get to hear more Elton piano and a better song selection. But as I said, you give me the 60th Birthday show line up and I think I want the Band on it. However I have often wished he would switch up the Band thing, kind of like the 1985/86 World Tour. Sometimes have horns, sometimes just a sax and piano, sometimes just a piano and an English Horn. Sometimes piano and strings. I think a concert which changes it up like that would be hard to beat. I also think he needs to jam out more. Take more solos and end jams, let the band play out a bit more.

As far as Band members go, I like this band. But I sometimes do miss Sugarfoot Moffet, he was wonderful. And of course I miss Dee Murray. He was the best bass player ever, case closed.

Elton has had so many Career periods in Concert. The Golden ‘70’s Era, especially in your country U.S.A. He wore outrageous glasses and fancy stage costumes. High school girls dominated his concerts with their screams. he evolved from an oriented rock artist to a flamboyant Pop Massive performer. One time, John Lennon told him: “If you die someday, I will throw all my radio out the window.” He conquered the World but we missed albums like “Tumbleweed” or “Madman”. How do you value this transistion?

First yes, the teenage girls threw themselves at Elton, and those same girls are now Grandmothers! :) I almost recall the Lennon quote well, made me laugh then as now. I mean Lennon was right, can imagine, I mean God forbid, but say it happened today, I’d be hearing “Daniel” 24/7! AHHHH! “Daniel’s” not one of my all time faves, sorry grown weary of it live. It has been simply the most fantastic ride for me. I can’t believe that I was working part time as a roofer and builder in 1971, with friends, and I hear this guy on the radio, and now 40 years later I’m still a fan and have witnessed all the high and the lows of a career no one else has ever had in Rock Music. It is just something too hard to put down in words. I miss the glasses and costumes. I do. That was our Purple period with Elton, the glitter, the glamour. I was there at Central Park in 1980, Donald Duck and all. I was there in 1979 on Single Man Tour. I mean its bizarre, the whole career ride. Amazing.

Yes! The period of 1975-76 was a deep, hard period in the lives of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Bernie and his first wife Maxine broke up while Elton admitted his bisexuality. The wind of success had certainly begun to fly another direction. Do you think people got enough of Elton, had had enough of him, by this time?

Yes, he had ridden a wave of success, and as he said it best, “It’s Lonely at the Top” ( Rolling Stone Interview refer. - 1976 ).

But critics hated the man and his music. He had his supporters, but he also had his fair share of critics. And let’s face it the music was not as strong as say, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, not that ANYONE, anyone! could have stood up against all that stress and career demands. Taupin wrote it well in “Tinderbox”, which by the way is a wonderful newer song, for the purists who can’t accept he wrote anything good after 1976. :) Did Elton have too much pressure? Of course. Two albums every year for 6 years? No other songwriter has ever done it since or probably ever will. And in most cases they were all brilliant! I am amazed he’s “Still Standing” today.

“Blue Moves” double album or single disc?

To me personally now, I am thrilled its a double album. Would it have made a better single disc, I suppose. Look it had “Sorry Seems To Be The Hradest Word”, a classic, maybe, just maybe the last true “Classic” Elton John/ Bernie Taupin song. For me, “Blue Moves” is Elton’s most underrated album. America couldn’t handle the album, along with the Rolling Stone Interview. Thee had to be a melt down. Everyone was coming unglued. Taupin, his wife, the Band, Kiki Dee, Elton it was all toppling. Kind of like Lennon shouting to the Beatle fans in 1970, “The Dream Is Over”.

That period is a very sad time for me. I saw it all crumble. I saw the hurt, I heard the Hurt... ”What have I got to do to make you love me? It’s sad, so sad, and it’s getting more and more absurd” it’s there all the pain in every line. I mean check out even the words to “I Cry at Night”. Maybe you could post those lyrics for the readers of this. Taupin was pouring his pain out. Today I marvel at the brilliance of this album, how it’s all right there, all the honesty of it, the pain, the real of it. “Blue Moves” shines in all its glory and excesses’. I mean is there a more beautifully emotional track than “Tonight” ? “Chameleon”. I’m a purist, you don’t mess with the original Lugosi “Dracula”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Robinhood” , you don’t mess with this.

It is what it is, gorgeous. It is in my top 10 forever. And by the way “Boogie Pilgrim” is the Rodney Dangerfield of Elton’s songs... It don’t get no respect! :) it’s great, makes me smile every time I hear it. And “Shoulder Holster” – Holy God almighty! Awesome song! One of his all time best. That horn section, that piano his vocals. One thing, I know Gus wanted a single album in the worst way and it is one of the reasons Elton and he parted ways briefly.

The 80’s delivered an Elton John album and hit every year, alternating masterpieces like “Too Low For Zero” ( 1983 ), “Ice On Fire” ( 1985 ) or “Sleeping With The Past” ( 1989 ). Despite his drug problems, his wedding, and divorce, the throat operation, he proved he could stand on the mood, did he?

Yes and no. I am one of the few, excuse let me duck now, :) who do not regard “Too Low” as a “Masterpiece”. I think it’s a mess er piece. “Saint” whines and drones on, “Crystal” is gag me cute, “Kiss The Bride” is just icky rock, ”Religion” a country God tune? “Whipping Boy” scares me sometimes, I’m joking here...:) I love good, bad or rotten Elton. But I can talk on all levels with it. I was one who never saw this album as a classic. It had wonderful songs on it, the others. It was a 50/50 album to me. Half good, half, what was he thinking?

“Ice” was another weak one. I mean “This Town”, “Nikita”, “Shoot Down The Moon”, “Cry To heaven” ...yeah...but then there was that dreadful thing...”Teen dreams on two inch screens, lipstick boys all look like queens...” PLEASE! How can I give that serious time when I have :”Levon” and “Tiny Dancer” and “Goodbye” and “Indian Sunset”?

I don’t get fans who can’t talk on this level. Its fun in a way. You’re either in the club I suppose or you’re out. I love all Elton’s music, but only on April Fools Day do I listen anymore to “Victim Of Love”, “Leather Jackets”, “Ice On Fire” and a few others. Once a year now, as a joke. Cause that’s how I see them. His heart wasn’t in the right place and he’s admitted as much. So all those Geffen albums have pitfalls. But sometimes they had wonderful things like “ Legal Boys” or “Burning Buildings” or “One More Arrow” or “Cold As Christmas” or “Paris”. Those songs, sadly now seem so forgotten.

“Sleeping” was his only 1980’s “Masterpiece” in my opinion. It was great, “Through and Through!” ( name that song? :) ) ( On the “Fox”, another forgotten gem f an album ).

As far as staying power. Elton owes no one, not even me, as pompous as I’ve been a thing. He’s done it all. I love that he still cares to give 100 percent live or in a studio album. It’s something to watch today. Really it is. Shame the other ‘s are missing out.

The 90’s and the years on, we discovered a successful Elton on Musicals, soundtrack films, like the “Lion King”, “Broadway shows like “Aida’, “Billy Elliot”, “Lestat”. Albums like “Made In England” ( 1995 ) or “Songs From The West Coast” ( 2001 ), remains one of the best of the whole career. Which Elton do you prefer?

First, the Broadway show Elton. It’s ok I like some of it, not so keen on some of it. Still think he’s better at writing than we’ve got on the show tunes. The Lion King was a Huge Career move, a Pivotol time for him. It re-established him to a whole new generation. I love “Circle Of Life”. And by the way I grew up on “Kimba The White Lion” which I can still sing: “Who lives down in deepest darkest Africa, Africa...” and Disney deserved their lawsuite over that, not the “MOST” original script ever.

But I don’ think it’s close when we talk about that period versus say, “Songs From The West Coast”. “West Coast” to me is an Elton John “Masterpiece”. It is in my top ten. I do not get much credit for this, and in fact tread on thin ice when I talk about this, so I’ll try to simplify my answer here... if anyone was alive and on the Internet in 1997 – 2000, then you knew I was a raging loon back then. I was filled with sadness, and anger, and frustration. Too many deaths around me, My father, Mother, Uncle, Niece, Dog, Cat, best friend, second best friend. “Times getting tougher than tough” literally! :) But my comments on “things need to change in the Elton Camp” seemed to have paid off, and FINALLY we had a change in the studio and music direction. Yes I am aware he credits, “Ryan Adams”. I say go back and do some searches on those earlier times and you will find some interesting things. Someone was listening. They read my posts and rants and changed for the good. I used to post a lot “The change is gonna do you good...” it worked. “Songs” is his best album after “Blue Moves”. It is as Rolling Stones reviewed it, “a great album, 5 stars! Here’s an idea let’s simply make an Elton John album again after all these years”. Well I cried when I first heard tracks from these sessions. Cried tears of joy. I am aware of fans who dislike this album, sorry guys... you just missed it. I didn’t. Lovely.

I can get that album down to one track and I beg you to tell me its meaning, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. I have mine. I think I was the guy in it who stood against the fans saying, sorry I don’t think you guys are writing at your best, time to refocus. I was the one who stood up to the Emperor, using the Internet. They listened. The Madonna line is all about their 1980’s music, she was the queen on radio, the Madonna on the dashboard, they were living off their gold discs. Mining gold, making gold from rust, hits albums, re-issues and hits tours. Hey I might be crazy too...:) wouldn’t be the first time. :) I don’t think so seriously. I know fans beg to differ with me. Oh, well I guess you had to be there. ”Mansfield” I dunno, I can’t find words, it just chokes me up still. Lovely stuff.

And the reasons why albums of the last ten years have not sold well?

Many. Music changed. Music promotion has changed drastically. Record Companies no longer are successful using old selling games. But it didn’t help Elton refused to do much press or promotion on them. The Companies did drop the ball. Poor single choices. Not enough single choices. So many reasons. Hey I look at it like this, their loss? They Have missed Elton’s glory years. Elton should hire some younger kids coming out of universities who have new ideas on marketing. Marketing in the Music Industry has changed. Youtube is now as successful or more so than VH1 or MTV ever was. There are groups who have come from total obscurity due to the Internet now and places like youtube. I think Elton doesn’t understand what he is missing. And his managers or Companies are happy doing what they’ve always done, which is sad.

One way to better sales, sell the record directly on your on line website, cut out the middle man. Amanda Palmer used BandCamp.com and Google Check Out, and release it in as many formats as you can manage, adding rare B sides. That still works well. And that includes vinyl. And sell it as if its personal, hell even autograph it. That’s what my son would tell you, Andrew. He is studying this at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. Bands like 9 Inch Nails, Radio head, Amanda Palmer, Jack Conte, Pomplamoose, and others have all had major success with these tactics ( and yes I intended that pun. :). Jamie Cullum recently played a live concert to his fans right out of his living room to promote his latest album. Using skype. It was a marvelously individualized way to self promote, ingenius. And by the way, you may have missed that album, go buy “The Pursuit” simply lovely. “Mixtape” and “Wheels” amazing tracks.

He didn’t take interests in being on the video-clips, for example. Such an error, for me. Seeing Robert Downey Jr. singin’ on “I Want Love” video is not the best way to promote a song, almost for me.

Songs like “I Want Love”. Robert Downey. I actually enjoyed that video. I like that Elton isn’t always in his videos. I mean if by now, people don’t know Elton’s voice and style... I don’t know seriously, it doesn’t matter to me. It all comes down to the song, if I like it. “I Want Love” , for me, was the weakest song on “Songs”. I don’t think it hurt sales, just don’t think people latched on to the song. Elton clearly loves that song. It’s ok to me, only ok. I prefer “Pain”, which should have been a single off “Made In England”.

And self-producing last albums seems for me not the best idea. What do you think on this aspect?

What are my views on Elton’s self-producing albums like “Peach Tree Road”? Never cared for this. I think Elton does his best work when he has an arranger like Buckmaster, a Producer like Gus, and a group of session musicians ( not the usual Band ). This keeps him on his toes, gets him excited, challenges him. When he does this production thing, it’s him taking the easy way out. No stress just do it. Those albums sound like demos to me. I like them but they have a stark, sparse feel, like demos. What was wrong with the Producer on “Songs From The West Coast”?

Patrick Leonard, yes, he did a great job but disappear. And what do you think about the new project with Leon Russell? What could we expect? The previews of songs has gotten everyone excited. Could we be in front of one of Elton’s hits of the century?

I’m reluctant to try to predict the future. Will this be a great album? I have my fingers crossed. It will be a solid album, that’s for sure. I will love this project and I already do. My brother and I were sitting listening to “Roses” the other day. My older brother has about the same knowledge I do. He had two comments: Not much piano on it... he was hopeful someone would have a real nice solo soon. I told him nope, but said I agreed. He said, it’s good, a solid song, but it could have been more. I agreed. I love the new songs, but I guess I hear more potential in them. They seem a little understated, reserved for Leon or Elton. Maybe it’s to be expected, but I wanted that kick ass funk stuff that both of them did so well on tracks like “Delta Lady” and “Ballad of a Well Known Gun” or “Amoreena”. We may still get that though. For me growing up on Leon Russell and Elton, 1970 era, to be here today with this, is just wonderful! I am loving it. Like a Kid in a candy shop. I used to go see Leon years and years ago. In the last 6 years I’ve seen Leon perform at very small houses, Old movie theatres, like one in a town near us, The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville. It’s a famous place, that early McQueen horror film, the theatre where “The Blob” came oozing out and chasing all the kids. I sat very close, made eye contact, got Leon to play more piano on “Roll Away The Stone” by playing air piano :) See these guys are Living Legends. So It is a must I see them now more than ever. I am thrilled they got back together and Elton is awesome for doing what he is doing to help Leon out of obscurity after all these years and throwing the Light of Fame back on Leon again. Leon deserves this, and in my book Elton is the top of the Tops now because of what he did for Leon. I got a ticket to the Leon/Elton show at the Beacon Theatre in NY, Oct. 19th I can’t wait. I will probably cry. :) Tears of joy.

I do think the album will be good for publicity, and it will get good reviews. “Bad” excites me, that, THAT’S! Leon Russell.

Wait and see! East End Lights brings me some nice memories. It was the pre-Internet Era and it was so difficult to find information about Elton, so the fanzines like this or “Hercules” fill that gap. I still remember waiting for the mail and my issues of those magazines. Great names , like Tom Stanton, You, Mary Anne Cassata, John F. Higgins, Liz Rosenthal or the incredible Jim Turano, taught us about Elton’s World. How do you value that experience?

Well, I’ll say this, what distinguished me from some of the others, was I was a music fan. I’m not sure of the others, and if they were all true fans of Elton’s music, I won’t name names but a few of them, didn’t even know when “You Gotta Love Someone” was released as a single. Why were they there? Politics, jobs, getting closer to Elton. I was brought in, but I didn’t play that game, just did what was asked and moved on. I had very little interaction with any of them. It’s still like that.

Now the pre-Internet days, there’s a story there! I started my concert/fan thing in the mid-‘80’s 1984. By then we were networking around the globe. Trading shows, interviews whatever. There were no fanzines. We invented them. No fan clubs, we invented them. “Tumbleweed Connection” was the title of one I ran for like 3 years in 1985. Elton’s management wasn’t too keen on it. Let’s see then there was “The Fox” and “Harmony” and “Hercules”. Stephan at Hercules and Sharon Kalinoski, they are old friends, and wonderful people. I used to hang with them sometimes. John Higgins too, a great guy. Those were the guys. The serious fans. And they cared, they still do. I’m not so connected anymore. Maybe they prefer it that way. LOL!

Well, Rocket Man” Elton John A-Z is the best reference book ever published, a perfect chronicle of Elton’s life and music, with reviews of his albums, performances, songs, everything. How did you come up with the idea of it?

I was standing in a book store in Delaware. Around 1989. My sister in law was pointing out all the Elton John books, I said, matter of factly... I have them all. This one is terrible, that one is ok... and so many of them talk about the same crap, how he met Cher, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah... and she goes... well if you now so much about him, why don’t you write your own book on him? and this light bulb went off. LOL! I decided I would, and soon was at the Free Library every chance I could get, my Internet was Micro Films on every periodical I could find, Melody Maker, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Cream, Record World, on and on. I read every review. I scanned every page, every chart. I loved it! I had also all these years a head for facts related to Elton. If I heard he did this song live I kept that in my head, never forgot it. I also traded world wide with fans in almost every country also I was able to get access to interviews from every country not just one. I had friends translate them.

It was my love. All that finally found its way into some sort of first draft by 1992. I had originally planned the format to be one album at a time with all facts related to that session being together, I still prefer my original manuscript. Tom (Stanton) suggested a different more commercial layout the A to Z thing. It worked. It’s easy to read. I’m proud of it. Some things made the book, like Elton’s songs live, ( that was all my idea ), some things didn’t like the entire list of every concert date live and who was on the bill. I did that work but it never got there. The song lists have been fun to compile. For years I kept a list of every song title I ever heard him say or heard someone else say. Since the book has been published, those lists have seen the light of day. I will now reveal something. Those lists are not totally accurate. A few things were made up. I had too to protect my interest, my research, my time. Copyright issues. I see them out there and I get annoyed, few credit me as a source, yet they are listing songs whose titles I made up. Up to 1995, no one had ever compiled so many facts on Elton’s music, that was all me. I wanted Elton to be respected in the same way Dylan and the Beatles were, and they had some sort of boos on them like this, I owned them, but not Elton. So I took care of it. LOL! That book was done by a fan for the fans. It makes me smile every time a fan says how much they like it. But if it wasn’t for Elton’s people and Tom Stanton it would never have seen the light of day. Too hard to get backing for a book these days. By the way for the record, because of lousy contract Tom got us for publishing, I have made almost nothing from it. $1,500. maybe, the publisher has made over $75,000, seems fair doesn’t it? :) Anyway yes, the book took thousand of hours and years of collecting to get it done. But heck It got me to meet Elton. :)

Will there be a follow up?

Not from me. I burned out on it. I would consider helping another, or doing it only if Elton’s camp would give me free reign and help me wit it to get a better publisher, like “Someone” did to another book that came out just after mine. They play games. I got burned. They wanted full control of my book. They didn’t get that. So I didn’t get backing like others have. I amazed it’s still out there, and people still talk of it. See I was told no on the book by Elton’s US manager. She and I had this odd relationship, I was always trying to get a fan club going, she didn’t want one. She didn’t want much of anything. LOL! I guess neither did John Reid. Unless they could fully control it, financially. I was annoyed at them. Tired of re-issues, tired of bad box sets, tired of the same hits shows, so I said, Fine I’ll just put unauthorized on it. I think that upset them. So they helped, but very little. And they sort of helped it into obscurity if that makes any sense. Only no one predicted just how music the fans would love it, I did. :) I did it for me and for all of you. Love did that book. I’m not so sure I got that back in return.

OK Although I love every section of the book, I spent (and still spending) hours and hours on the Appendix. That list of songs, covers, performances, concerts, my God, that’s incredible. I am always wondering where Elton sang the following songs or if they were part of a current set Tour list. For example: “At The Hop” (1970), “Midnight Hour” (1970), “Shake” (1971), “Getting To Know You” (1976), “Pub Piano Song” (1976, 1988), “Just Like Belgium” (1982), “Mammy” (1982), “Match Of The Day (1985), “New York, New York” (1986).

Some of those things were done in the middle of Bennie and the Jets, some were done as songs. I had a complete list of them, where, when, what... but Mr. Stanton lost my notes. :) and it wound up like this index. Sort of vague. The way they wanted it. LOL! I used to keep them all in my head. I don’t anymore. Hard for me to even remember the last show I was at. LOL!

Apart from the music charts, I love the album’s outtakes. Songs like “No Valentines”, “Sugar On The Floor”, “Into The Old Man’s Shoes” or “Surviving Crash and Burn” have quality enough for deserving to be on an album. I am not asking Elton about doing a B Sides tour, BUT, What they could do with all this material?

Seems to me its time for “To Be Continued Part 2”. I agree. But Elton’s people don’t. This is where the whole book thing started, you know? I came from obscurity annoyed at MCA and Andy McKay of MCA. They were putting the box set together. I called them, so did others. We begged them to please consider NOT doing the same old Hits on it, to this time doing it right. Give us the B sides, the rare songs, the demos. They laughed at us, told us we were only 10 Percent of his market. :(

I still get annoyed at that damn thing. They have liner notes on it like this... ”Probably Ritchie Zito on guitar.” I once said this to Elton’s people.. and to Goldmine Magazine, ( now there’s some research, go find my review of that set in Goldmine Magazine. LOL! A War was started there. LOL! ) I said, “Lucky for you guys, the box set didn’t say ... Probably Elton John!”

I mean where is “Where To Now St. Peter? “Captain Fantastic”? “High Flying Bird”? “Burn Down The Mission”? Hits ...Hits Hits! and that awful B side “Give Peace a Chance’ got on it? Sheesh. What a mess that project was. They had their heads somewhere else during that whole project and I think I know here they had them. He’s protected his songs, and his finances for too long. What he needs to do is a true career retrospective, with Live tracks, B sides, and demos. Screw the Hits!

But for the record, Guys I don’t own all these rare songs, and sometimes when I post, maybe I am posting “What I heard” to share it with all of you. I’m just not able to tell you anymore than that, or I have to be cagey about it. Its sometimes the only way to get these things out to the fans, to share, which is what I have always done. The fans don’t realize there are levels of fans. Some have rare stuff but they won’t part with it for nothing. I am not about bootlegging. I am about the love of his music, sharing it with everyone...”Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love everybody right now.”

Although Elton worked with other lyricists, like Tim Rice, Gary Osborne, Lee Hall or Tom Robinson, his landmark work has been with Bernie Taupin. How do you analyze Bernie as lyric writer? What is the difference between those lyric writers?

I love this question! :)

First for me, it has always been both, word and a tune. Without one or the other, it just doesn’t work. Take a song like ‘House”. I know I’m treading dangerously here. I know the fans love that song. I do too. The melody is so haunting. But I always struggle with the simplicity of Taupin’s words. What I “GET” is that he was deliberately trying to write in the style of John Lennon. So maybe it’s more like Lennon, than Elton? Taupin’s words in 1970/71 were beautiful, they were Art, Poetry. I think his writing the last ten years has been some of his best ever. A perfect Taupin lyric, “I”ve Seen That Movie Too”. It’s also a perfect Elton John song. I started writing Poetry and lyrics in grade school, by college I was studying it, and today I study style and principles and elements more than ever. Taupin is a Poet in lyrics. He expresses moods, atmosphere, lighting, smells, he’s in tune. The others, they are fine, ok lyricists. They get the job done. But Taupin has a way of rising above it all. He’s The Robert Frost of Rock N Roll.

Gary’s best lyric is on the Fox Album, maybe “Breaking Down Barriers”. I struggled with the change of lyricist back then. I dunno, today I think it would be fun again. Change it up. Not that I want Taupin to go away, just have fun. That’s why I’m so excited over this new album, seeing the differences between how Leon handled Bernie’s stuff, as to how Elton does. So far I have not been disappointed.

You, as a Poet, writer, artist, have you been inspired by one of Taupin’s lyrics in some way?

Absolutely! Every now and then I’ll hear a song and colors will come into my head, a sky...and yes I paint it. I have painted to Elton’s music in my studio since 1970. I even title paintings based on his songs and Taupin’s words. A leaf in a stream, becomes “I took myself a blue canoe and I floated like a leaf, dazzling, dancing, half-enchanted, in my Merlin sleep...” which is my favorite Taupin line by the way.

Poems? yes maybe a little. Lyrics, always. I love Taupin’s style, that cinematic way he has like on ”Indian Sunset”, “Razor Face”, “Levon”. That album hold so many fond memories for me. Word pictures. One of Bernie’s best word albums ever.

Ok you asked for it: here is one of my poems about Elton. By the way I can now officially say it’s published. LOL! If you hate it... blame Elton! :) Wait I might have two..

That Day I Cried

Just Once I knew why he gave us music on Earth.
In New York, that day...
It swallowed me;
Hooted in shadowed streets
The neon Pop Art Soda fizz of Time Square,
Honked and rattled in syncopated rhythm
To the constant traffic flow
And happy jazz cabs,
Banana peel yellow –
Like the noon day sun of L.A., Florida, the Village,
Like 300 brassy music stand lamps in Radio City Hall
Or the ice inky blue of a night sky full of stars
The gloaming moon in Central Park
Warming the lonely lovers,
That circle of dying yellow flowers-
Imagining – How I loved him;
Loved those downcast melodies
That cried, Oh, baby...they cried.
Yes, that day, the King was in his splendor
And standing up, I walked on,
Strolling the park – over bridges
Weaving through the black note flowers
And carefully lined gardens,
Those horizontal lines with their spaces.
I think to myself, “God never makes mistakes,
he rights them.”
Like our loneliness, our pain.
Sending bright flowering notes to feed our hearts.
Lighten the darkened Earth –
Resolve.
I shrug at this, like a Scarecrow and turn
Turn from sensibilities of the wind,
The wood-wind, the refrain,
And listen to a black sad piano
Crying in an empty Hall of my life.
And I too cried,
Cried my heart –
Out.


Poem written by Claude W. Bernardin

About my trip to Radio City Music Hall to hear Elton with the Orchestra...in 2003.

When I Dance To The Music

"On starlit nights – his music...
it is the fermented wind distilled.
the blue Mediterranean,
Cool brass notes dropping like bombs
From an orbit blazed evening sky.
It is the melancholy mind
left alone, to war with its evil and its pain.
A purple nights tender decline
Into the soft desires
of her moon cast eyes
In a solemn painted field.
It is sad breath – carried away."


Poem written by Claude W. Bernardin, on 10/29/09

During and just after listening to “Chameleon”. A song that I simply love. Ok now for an Important serious Poem. To My Artistic Inspiration.

Snow Hills : Just Off Route 1
- To Andrew Wyeth


"On that beautiful day
Of Scarecrows and Black Ice
The fabric of the World
Was torn and frayed
Like the winter corn stalks
In his brown fields.

He would listen to the shape of hills
and Imagine... for all Mankind.

You could walk through his country
On the barebones of the landscapes soul.
But you’d have to walk it, to know it.
His “Moon Dance” on Ring Roads’ trodden weed,
Enchanted me.

And I am certain, his walk into Heaven
Was effortless."


Poem Written on 5/14/09, by Claude W. Bernardin.
As a tribute to legacy of a brilliant Artist.


An American Treasure. And a HUGELY important influence on my life as an Artist. It took me about 2 and a half months of time to get away from the pain of it to begin to actually think about writing this. The words were based on Eulogies placed at the Brandywine River Museum webpage at the time of his death by some 150 people, including myself. I figured that somehow through all their loss, pain and sadness, I might make a beautiful Poem to the man. These are the results. And It is one of my personal favorites.

Thanks, nice one too

ok Now a Funny Poem to Elton.

January

Song For You

Dear John, ( I.E. Rocket man),

Tonight, As the stars look down
I stop and I breathe. Your blue moves, and wicked dreams
Sail me away. Your songs are the greatest discovery, the measure of a man.
And I wouldn’t have you any other way.
Through the storm and the thunder in the night, I need you to turn to.
Right before my eyes, Its getting dark in here, and the clock goes round -
Ticking... ticking.
Mr. Frantic, rock this house like a rollercoaster sails through a hoop of fire.
You were born to boogie, blessed with a heart in the right place,
Bite your lip, get up and dance...but,
Keep it a mystery expressing yourself to the last song
in an Indian sunset.
Remember, I’m still in love with you.

Friends...

From a fan in the twenty second row.
- Stinker

PS – The Letter and This writing is out of the blue
PSS – Signed, sealed, delivered with a crimson kiss.

From:
The end of the world to your town
71-75 New Oxford Street, Blue Avenue
Belfast, 44357


My screen name on the Innervisions board is “Stinker”. These are all song titles or words in Elton songs. :) me being silly.

Hahahahaha. If Elton asked you someday to write music in one of your poems, which lets you?

Lastly, would I have a lyric I’ve written, that I’d love Elton to write too? God I’d love that! You don’t know how much I’d love that.

Wrote It Just For You

I’ll be your sunshine when the clouds darken down your days
I’ll be your makeup, paint a smile on your pretty face.
I’ll give you the stars to swing on, a party every afternoon,
I can live on nothin’, Babe –
But don’t burst this one balloon.
I can play the dark child, honey, like a long-haired Johnny Depp,
I can smile and play the coy boy,
So adorable like Cruise or Pitt.
Look out your window when the sun comes up...heck
I’ll even whistle every morning where the bluebirds sit.

I’ll be your lyrics
and you can be my tune.
Will fire up the charts, yeah shoot for the moon.
And our child will be special
A child made of Art.
And I wrote it just for you
Straight from the heart.

I’ll be your blue sunny skies, when the rain sets in
I’ll be your smilin’ eyes and laughter when the thunder begins
I’ll be your pony, you can ride me anywhere
I’ll even take you home, and take you upstairs.
I just want a moment, nothing more, nothing less
I could be the candlelight as you read a good book.
A warm homey fire, on a cold, cold night.
Or maybe just a friend, to talk to sometimes.
a person to help me when I struggle with the lines.

I’ll be your lyrics
and you can be my tune.
Will fire up the charts, yeah shoot for the moon.
And our child will be special
A child made of Art.
And I wrote it just for you
Straight from the heart.


Written for Elton John - on 1/28/09
By Claude W. Bernardin


Nice!!!! Oh, 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?

The one item I most appreciate in my Elton collection is probably hmm, one is tough, I have 3 paintings. I’ve done 3 watercolors of Elton in my house. One is a back shot of Elton at the piano, Cry To Heaven period. Then I have a Montage, one, it was to be the original cover of my book. It’s at my facebook website.

And then there’s the one of Elton in a Mohawk, 1986 tour, that Elton signed on my birthday in 1993 while on stage before he did the final encore, “Your Song”. He bowed to me on stage after that show. I didn’t even know he was doing it, I was collecting my things, my wife elbows me and says, “look!” and I was just staring! LOL!

Actual Elton item? I guess the brown Vinyl autographed “Captain” album, by Elton and Bernie.

Oh, one more story, 1986, Elton comes out, ( Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pa. ) I have signs, ready, I told all fans in my row to hold them up on cue. Elton walks over, I say, “Now!” they hold them up. All across the stage front in big letters it read, “Elton, Thank You For 26 years of great music!!!!!" He asked who did this? They pointed me out, he got on his hands and knees before the show and bowed to me. He’s the genuine deal! :)

For sure!!!! What kind of place do I see for Elton John in the History of Rock Music?

That depends. First he will not be forgotten. He’s a Legend. I do think after 1976 ( the bi-sexual thing) his star stopped twinkling for a time, especially in America it cooled. I also think authors of Rock Books, and makers of Rock History DVD’s , for a time, 1976 – 1994, had tried to include their bias’s against Elton. The Gay thing has always been a sad factor. People and their phobias. :) But his musical legacy is now just too hard to ignore. He is a Giant now. One can go to see a show, and watch the audience bow to him a half dozen times. His audiences love him, as well they should. He is the real deal, he delivers every night. No, he’s not always on his A game, s what? Who is? But his talent, effort, he’s the hardest working man in Music. And that’s just fact. So I think his place in the History books will ...”shine, shine, shine...” :)

Claude, apart from Music, what are your other interests? What do you like to do with your off time?

Play with my dogs, Harley and Jack. I love Dogs, always have. Flea Market. Go to auctions. I’m a collector. Collect Antique Bottles, medicines from the 1800’s, mostly. Also I collect American made Art Pottery vases and such ( from around 1940, Roseville, Hull, McCoy.). I like to read books, mostly Horror, go to movies, write poetry, and of course research! and of course Painting watercolors, and drawing. I’ve been an artist all my life. since 1970. I sell my paintings professionally, when I am not teaching High School. I teach Art and Music History. and Painting and Drawing. Oh, did I mention sleeping? Taking long walks in quiet woods and playing in streams. Fishing and Camping in the Mountains of Pennsylvania, we have a cabin there. Kind of lie a river runs through it.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton's songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, where I tried to find the bests of Elton’s songs ever?

My 5 Favorite Elton John songs in order: I’ll do 13. LOL! :)

1. “Talking Old Soldiers”
2. “Your Song”
3. “Levon”
4. “Rocket Man”
5. “”Someone Saved My Life Tonight”
6. “Sixty Years On”
7. “Skyline Pigeon”
8. “High Flying Bird”
9. “Mellow”
10. “Amy”
11. “Harmony” ( its my cell phone ring tone :) )
12. “Chameleon”
13. “I’ve Seen That Movie Too”

My Top 5 Albums in Order:

1. “Tumbleweed Connection”
2. “The Elton John Album”
3. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
4. “Honky Chateau”
5. “Songs From The West Coast”

Thanks!! Well, you know I have a special prediction for a very talented, young artist, Ben Babylon. We Eltonites really appreciate him. What would be your advice for him, about music, about life?

I am very aware of his talent. He is remarkable. His father would be proud of him. I met his father, never have I ever met another Band member so friendly and welcoming and warm. And Guy’s solo in “Blue Avenue”? Please! I’d say to Ben, be true to your talent, your Art. Never take it or your fans for granted. Stay focused and work very hard. Any dream is possible with effort. As Bernie once said...”Never Give Up On A Dream”.

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

To the Eltonites who read this: “Ou-Se-Ma-LA, Ou-se-ma-La, ou-se-ma-La-Ah-Ha!” That means hang on for the ride with “The Union” because I think you are gonna hear some music that will rock your socks off!

Oh, who is “HeyManCoolShades”?

:) That’s me boy! Andrew! Andrew is a rocker. He writes, sings, arranges, plays guitar, plays piano, writes his own lyrics and is also currently studying in London, England, studio engineering and production. His videos are on Youtube. Just type that word, all one word to see his covers. He has one original song up on youtube, “Lonely December”. But he has like 500 songs stock piled. Something extremely exciting has just happened recently. But I can’t say anything more just yet. We’re all excited.

Andrew started playing piano with Melody, at the age of 3. I have tapes. He’s so gifted, I don’t think even he knows just how much talent he has. I love his songs. He intends to record Elton’s “Bad Side Of The Moon” in the style of Oasis or Blur “Punk” style while he’s over in London this fall finishing his college studies. He’s hoping to start up a Band as well. You can find his songs on line through facebook if you become his friend. He’s already doe a special cover of “Where To Now St. Peter?” a special Christmas gift to me a few years ago. Andrew has studied and performed his music in Nashville, Philadelphia, New York, LA, and now London. He’s only 22.

And he has a killer song, waiting quietly for the right deal, it’s called “This Is Not Me”. He has another called “Razor” as well. I used to rock him to be4d at night, humming “I Need You To Turn Too”, and whispering... Doctor, Lawyer....” He didn’t listen to me! LOL! Us artists and musicians, we never take good advice! :) Hey maybe Andrew and Davey’s son and Ben could be the next Super Group? How’s that one for you?!!!!!!!!! LOL!

Well, Claude, we chat on everything, I suppose. Thanks, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. Oh, before you go, I have some people here that wanted to say something for you, just with the pretention to make you smile. They're beatiful people and great eltonites. So, guys, come on:

John F. Higgins: "Claude is the first mega-fan I can recall meeting, in 1987, and, for me, is the fan by which all others are measured. I continue to hope that... someday... his original book will be seen by all of Elton's avid followers".

Richard P. Georgeou: "Claude is a very passionate,caring person. We have become very good friends since i first met him at my Boston-LATW. Claude donated some paintings for my 3 Boston-LATW events. Another very good friend, Kevin Caples found the restaurant for the first Boston charity luncheon, entitled Grimsby's. I have a facebook wall pic of this establishment. We constantly talk about Elton's music and Bernie's lyrics. We greatly admire their talent. And, we both want Elton to play the obscure album tracks, apart from his hits,which we know he must play for his audience. We will attend the Elton John and Leon Russell concert in NYC on 19 October 2010 at the Beacon Theater.And,we are both excited to hear the new songs form the Union. We also attended the Elton 60th birthday concert in 2007 together. And, as always had a great time. And were very pleased Elton reached into his back catalogue that night and gave us long time fans some old 'chestnuts' that we cherish. Respectfully submitted, me".

Stephan Heimbecher: "Ask him what he things about the rare/never released Elton track "Parrots in Love". It's a fake track/hoax that I created many years ago and Claude has been doing research on that song for quite a while until we met in New York one day and I told him it was all just my idea."

Tom Stanton: "Claude is a treasure and I appreciate him greatly. We've shared some wonderful times, not only while writing Rocket Man but also backstage in Columbus, Ohio, where we met Elton in 1995. The first time I talked to Claude, however, he was very blunt and intimidating. I had just begun East End Lights, and he phoned to quiz me. Basically, he wanted to make sure I was a true Elton fan. He started by asking me about my favorite albums, checking the depth of my knowledge. I think I passed the test. Of course, his expertise is unquestionable. He knows his stuff. But one of the things few people know about Claude is that he is an incredibly talented watercolorist. I am fortunate to own several of his signed prints".

Thank you John, Richard, Stephan and Tom. Really appreciate your words. And you, Claude, all the best. Thank you by heart for this interview.

Thank you for this guys. It was a pleasure.

Pictures courtesy of Claude Bernardin