Rolling Stone magazine has been granted an interview with Sir Elton.
The star acknowledges that there are rare songs his fans would like to hear live, and says he’d like to do such a concert in the future. Elton also says he still regularly purchases music. He buys CDs on Fridays and DVDs on Tuesdays.
Here are some more highlights from the discussion. . . .
This is your third straight album with T Bone Burnett. What keeps bringing you back to him?
He just understands me. He’s a musician. I’m a good musician, he’s a great musician, and he’s recorded with so many great people. He’s good at analyzing a song. He’s good at analyzing my vocals. He’s quick to critique or change things around, and that’s what you need. When you’ve written a song, you can’t actually see the wood for the tree, and he’s there to say, “Nuh-uh, do that instead.” And I’ve always needed something like that around. He’ll say, “This song’s too long. Cut the chorus out there. You don’t need two choruses at the end.” He plays on “Blue Wonderful,” and he just adds a great vibe. Everybody in my band were intimated to work with him because of his reputation, but they ended up loving him. You can tell that it’s a joyous record, and you can imagine the fun we had doing it.
You recorded it in just two weeks?
We did 14 tracks in 17 days, yeah. But that’s [Goodbye] Yellow Brick Road time, as well. That’s what we did then, and it hasn’t changed. I also did The Diving Board in a bout 10 days. It’s because I don’t write, and I’m so looking forward to it. Also, I listen to a lot of music. Nothing inspires me more than new music. When I wrote “A Good Heart” I was thinking about St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Paul Janeway singing it. I do my Apple Beats program, and I’m given new music all the time. My life is so full of music, old and new stuff, so when it comes time to record something all that music seems to come together.
It’s a good way to work. People that spend six months on a record, or even more, can really overthink the music and kill the songs.
You can overcook the egg. You can work on something so much and remix and do it over and over and over again. I’ve never been someone to do that. It’s always been, “If its not done in seven or eight takes, let’s come back to it another day,” because you lose the energy. You lose the adrenaline, and that’s so important. And most of these songs were recorded in two takes, without question.
Bernie told me he’s in the studio for some of the process. What’s his role in there?
He just likes to hang around and feel the vibe. It’s good to have him around because I can say, “I need an extra line here” or “I need two extra lines” or “I don’t need this — can you change this?” So he’s on hand in case I need anything. He’s a great writer, but sometimes there are five lines in a verse and sometimes there are six, so sometimes I need to modify that and he’s always on hand so that he can fix it straight away so we don’t have to waste time.
And he’s a musician too. If doesn’t like it then I don’t like it because I want him to like everything I write. I mean, obviously that’s not possible, but I just want him to love everything that I do melodically to his lyrics because he’s at the start of everything, and we’ve got it down pretty pat. We’re as simpatico as people having never written in the same room. We just know each other musically and lyrically, and we just know what each other wants, I think, and after being together 48 years, we should.
He was telling me that since you both have young kids right now, your two lives are sort of mirroring each other.
Yeah, we’re both mirroring each other. I’ve got two boys, and he’s got two girls. One of the songs we left off was called “Children Saw.” It’s a beautiful song, but it didn’t really go with the rest of the album because you can write songs about children all you like and they always end up sounding a little bit twee, so we decided to leave it off, which was a shame because I love the lyrics so much. But I think we’re both in a very happy place, and we were both on the same page. We had no doubts in our minds that this was the kind of record we wanted to make.