On December 30 2016, Elton John paid tribute to George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou of Greek Cypriot and English background) by opening his New Year's concerts in Las Vegas with the song, 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me'. The song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart when it was first performed in the studio in 1974. In March 1991, Elton John recorded a duet with George Michael on stage in a London concert.

'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' reached No. 1 in the U.K. singles chart in December 1991 and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1992. The duet 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me' performed at Wembley Arena was the 8th No. 1 single for each artist. The song was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin during a 10-day period in January 1974. "Music is the most joyous thing in the world for me. I can't imagine what my life would be without it. It cleanses the soul. It nourishes me. It's just necessary," Elton told Neil McCormick in 2004. 

Bernie made the observation, "Obviously, when you give somebody a lyric, you can say, 'I see this as being a ballad or I can see it as being an uptempo rock 'n' roll song.' Some of the things I've written are obvious. 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' speaks for itself – it's going to be a ballad. 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' is not going to be a ballad. But, in general, what Elton has created from what I’ve created has been 95% of the time as I conceived it. 

"He's surprised me sometimes, and done something out of left field. And, maybe no, I didn’t like it. But there were other times where I haven’t seen it like that, but then thought, 'No, this is better than what I thought.' People say, 'I like the early stuff because it was naïve, and out of that naiveté came the classics.'" In an interview with 'Esquire' in 2011, Bernie Taupin made the point, "When you read a screenplay, you're reading a screenplay. When you see it performed, that's another dimension.

"When Elton and I started out, we were literally kids. Then we became young adults. Then we became adults. Now we're old men. But old men with distinctly young ideas. My mother's father taught English literature. When I was about 10 or 11, I could recite (Thomas) Macaulay's 'Lays of Ancient Rome'. While other kids were playing pedestrian war games, I'd be Horatius keeping the bridge. I go through books like a paper cutter."

Of the 1972 song, 'Rocket Man', Bernie recounted, "I was on a trip to England, driving to my parents' place in Lincolnshire, when the whole first verse came into my head at once. 'She packed my bags last night preflight, / Zero hour, 9:00am / And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then.' The whole stanza. I'm going, 'Oh, my God, that's great.' But I didn't have a pen, paper. Nothing. This was before microcassettes and those sorts of things.

"And I'm on the road and I have nowhere to put it. So I had to keep it in my head for about an hour. I'm driving along going, 'She packed my bags ...' over and over again. I pulled into the driveway, ran inside — 'Nobody say anything to me!' — and wrote it down. I like it to be a bit more interesting than a good old 'I love you, you love me, my heart will break if you leave me.' Throw in a curveball. 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight.' 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.' Put a dark twist on them, you know."

Bernie also told Andy McKaie in the May 1990 interview, "The way we write songs is still unusual and probably always will be. It’s usually the melody that comes first and the lyrics afterwards or they come in tandem. We’ve always been the other way around. From day one, I gave Elton lyrics, and he would work on them. The whole process is separate and in that order. We’ve tried working the other way around, and occasionally it’s worked but it’s still always worked better…"

In an interview with 'Rolling Stone' in 2015, Bernie Taupin mentioned, "In the past I've faxed him (Elton John) things (songs written), but now he's been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century. He actually has an iPad and a computer … I'll email them and let him ingest them for a while and then we'll get together and I'll say, 'Well to me, when I wrote this, it had a kind of Byrds-y feel,' or I'll give him sort of an idea. For the most part, he just totally rejects those and goes the way he wants to go with them, but at least I gave it a shot."

"I don't have melodies going round in my head," Elton emphasized. "I've never woken up in the middle of the night and said, 'Oh, I must put that in a tape recorder.' I don't get inspired until I see the written page. Then I fiddle around with a chord sequence and it just happens. Very strange. I think it's fate. It's divine intervention. I don't know what it is. I just know I can do it. It comes very, very quickly. It's not even painful. Half an hour, 40 minutes max."

David LaChappelle observed, "I just love the idea of Elton John in Vegas. Most Vegas shows are about escaping: let's pretend we're on Broadway or in Paris. So we put a red piano on stage symbolising love, and it's surrounded by symbols of Vegas excess; every obsession is represented in neon: sex, drugs, alcohol, self-absorption, shopping, all these compulsions that fill a void, substitutes for love. And they come on for the first time when Elton sings 'I Want Love'. It's such a powerful song. Elton is not a one-note performer. He can be completely glitzy and surface, 'The Bitch Is Back', in your face, over the top; and at the same time he can do 'Daniel' and 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me', really profound, unironic songs."

Blog Archive