Elton John: Old Songs, Old Friends, New Perspectives | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Elton John: Old Songs, Old Friends, New Perspectives

Play associated audio

Elton John has been writing music since the 1960s, and between then and now, he has had enough life experience to reach some remarkable conclusions.

"I certainly, if I'm being honest with you, don't think you write as good a song on cocaine as you do when you're normal," he tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

John's new memoir, Love Is the Cure, details how he misspent much of the 1970s and '80s. He says he abused drugs such as cocaine and alcohol, and even suffered from bulimia. But John says his struggles with addiction have made him stronger.

"I think now I'm a much better singer, and I pay much more lip service to the lyrics, and even when I sing songs that I've sung a thousand times, they seem new to me," John says. "I think the experience that I went through has not only helped me as a person, but it's also helped me as a musician and a singer."

John says one of the songs with which he has reacquainted himself is "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," which he wrote during a period of turbulent romances in the '70s.

"I was always having ridiculous, short relationships with people because I took hostages in the relationship. They had to come with me, they had to travel with me, and after six months they hated my guts because they had no reason to live," he says. "I'd taken their identity away from them."

Now, John says, the song makes him think of the legendary French singer Edith Piaf.

"I sing it now in a different light, and it's more like an Edith Piaf song for me now than it was in those days," he says. "It has an accordion in it, and it always reminded me for a French song, and every time I sing it now I feel like Edith Piaf — although I'm taller."

John says he still enjoys working not only with old songs, but also with old friends. He and Bernie Taupin have been writing music together for almost half a century, but John says their relationship has never been better.

"I'm not a lyric writer — I get all my inspiration from looking at the written page," John says. "[Bernie Taupin] gives me the lyric, and I go away and write the song, then come back and play it to him. And I've never lost the enjoyment or the thrill of playing him the song that I've just written to his lyric."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Songwriter, Poet Rod McKuen Dies At 81

Rod McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums and more than 30 collections of poetry. He died on Thursday after a lengthy illness.
NPR

Food Industry Drags Its Heels On Recyclable And Compostable Packaging

A new report from two environmental groups reviewed the recyclability and compostability of packaging from 47 food companies. It found few examples of companies that have prioritized waste reduction.
NPR

Former Democratic Sen. Jim Webb Explores Presidential Bid

In considering whether to launch a presidential campaign, former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia tells Steve Inskeep his big challenge would be raising money to promote his ideas.
NPR

Media Outlets Partner With Snapchat To Appeal To Younger Users

As people disappear from the audiences of conventional news organizations, 11 media outlets have partnered with Snapchat in the U.S. to offer its younger users easily digested fare within the app.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.