I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Elton John Podcast

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September 8, 2019  


September 8, 2019

Episode 27 - Breaking Down 'Passengers'

  • My correspondent Cliff Sinclair emailed in to tell me about Baron Samedi, one of the spirits of Haitian Voodoo who has varying guises, one of which is highly reminiscent of the dancer character from the video for 'Passengers'. The Baron's remit is to act as a gatekeeper for the realm of the dead, and he is a highly mischievous, debauched individual, all of which mirrors the behaviour of the character from the video. Although, unlike the Bond film 'Live and Let Die', Elton's video is not set in the Caribbean, it's pretty clear what the inspiration was here for whoever it was that story-boarded the video. 
  • Of course that somewhat dilutes my interpretation of the video as being part of a semi-coherent statement against apartheid. Still, it might well have been Bernie that came up with the idea - he was clearly very interested in Haitian voodoo, having also written the song 'Hey Papa Legba' a few years before. 
  • Cliff also drew my attention to the fact that the song featured on an Amnesty International's 1986 compilation 'Rock for Amnesty', "conceived and compiled by Paul Gambuccini" - this would have been a nice addition to the narrative as well. Oh well! 


Episode 17 - The New Routes of Davey Johnstone - 1971-73

  • I describe Davey's accent as 'Cambrian'. This means Welsh. I think I meant Caledonian. 


Episode 16 - The Folk Routes of Davey Johnstone - 1951-71

  • An editing error meant that I described Noel Murphy as 'another Irish musician'. I had edited out a reference to one of Davey's favourite traditional Irish artists, Finbar and Eddie Curey, which would have made this section make sense. 


Episode 15 - Ego at 40

  • I say that Elton hadn't recorded in a year, which, if you count his mini-session for 'The Goaldigger's Song', recorded in around March of 1977, is true. However, it had been more than two years since his last proper bit of recording, for Blue Moves.
  • I say that, aside from 'Pinball Wizard', Elton hadn't recorded in the UK since 1971, for Madman Across the Water. This is incorrect. The band recorded 'Step into Christmas' and its B-side in November 1973 at Barry Morgan's Morgan Studios, in London. Thanks to John McEwen for this one. 
  • I was probably right when I said that Elton first met Andy Warhol in 1977, but, famously, Andy knocked for Elton and John Lennon, who were holed up taking coke in a suite at the Sherry Netherland Hotel, in New York, around the time of the recording of 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night', in June 1974. They were too paranoid to open the door. 
  • It's a bit odd that I didn't mention the impact that Elton's coming out had on his public profile, particularly in the USA, in 1977 / 1978. This definitely played a role in the lack of success of the single. 


Episode 13 - I've Been Loving You (For Precisely 50 Years)

  • I mention Kaplan Kaye in my Philips Records rundown. Not only did he go on to record for DJM, but he played piano and sang in Stuart Epps' band 'Claggers'


Episode 12 - Bernie's Early Themes - '67 - '69

  • I rather hamfistedly misquote the first line of 'This Song Has No Title' at the end of the episode. 
  • It's interesting to hear Bernie distance himself from 'Grey Seal' in this radio interview from October 1988


Episode 11 - The Greatest Covers

  • Not wrong as such, but I mention Martyn Ford, in the context of Aleksander Mezek's 'Salvation', and note that his orchestra was used in 'Slow Rivers'. While this is true, he and his orchestra also feature on Blue Moves, A Single Man, Jump Up! and Too Low For Zero.
  • Thanks to Martin Folde Peters, I have a semblance of a translation for 'Å nei, slanke meg'. He says that "the beginning of the chorus reads: 'Oh no, lose weight (or more literally, 'make me slimmer'), I don't wanna hear about it...' It seems to be a rather carefree and whimsical ditty about being on the road". 


Episode 10 - The One - 25 and a Half Years On

  • The story of sober Elton getting frustrated and leaving Studio Guilluame Tell in Paris is unattributed in the Rocket Man book, but it isn't in Elizabeth J Rosenthal's His Song. It was reported by John Reid. 
  • I say at the beginning of the programme that there is likely to be a re-issue of 'Live In Australia' in 2018. This has been proven to be untrue. I told you not to trust me for your Elton John news!


Episode 9 - At Home With Sheila and Reg

  • Not an error, but Elton plays a bit of the Skater's Waltz in the Bryan Forbes Elton and Bernie Say Goodbye to Norma Jean and Other Things documentary. I missed a trick by not using this bit of Bryan's interview to open the episode. 


Episode 3 - Regimental Sgt Zippo - The Debut Album That Never Was

  • The acetate for the song 'Empty Sky' definitely wasn't in Lord Baring's possession at any point in 1968, as it was written in January 1969, according to Elton's diary.
  • I fail to fully appreciate the link between The Young Brothers, who covered 'When I Was Tealby Abbey' and Cook / Greenaway. This dates the cover to at least late Spring / early Summer 1968, when some of Elton's acetates were given to Cook / Greenaway, who then went about looking for artists to cover them. This is all covered in Keith Heyward's book.
  • Here are some recordings that I found too late to include in this episode - much better transfers of Regimental Sgt. Zippo and Angel Tree than what tends to circulate, and the sample of Watching the Planes Go By (from the same source as Nina). 


Episode 2 - Buckmaster Before Elton

  • There are loads of little inaccuracies all over this episode, but the glaring omission is to mention Marsha Hunt, as being the singer at the session where Buckmaster probably met Dudgeon for the first time, without noting the enormous irony that she was a close associate of Elton - they had toured together in Bluesology. 


Episode 1 - Elton's Buried Treasure

  • Again, this is not an inaccuracy, but when I put this episode together, relying on the centre extraction technique, I was ignorant to the fact that there are all kinds of isolations (from the 5.1 releases) and multitracks (presumably liberated via the Rockband game) available. Elton's Buried Treasure vol. 2 is going to be a lot better I promise!