Tuesday, January 14, 2020

the last book I ever read (Me by Elton John, excerpt four)

from Me by Elton John:

And then there were the songs we wanted to write, influenced by The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, the kind of stuff we were buying from Musicland, a record shop in Soho that Bernie and I haunted so frequently that the staff would ask me to help out behind the counter when one of them wanted to get some lunch. It was the tail end of the psychedelic era, so we wrote a lot of whimsical stuff with lyrics about dandelions and teddy bears. We were really just trying on other people’s styles and finding none of them quite fitted us, but that’s how the process of discovering your own voice works, and the process was fun. Everything was fun. Bernie had moved to London and our friendship had really bloomed. We got on so well, it felt like he was the brother I’d never had, a state of affairs magnified by the fact that we were, at least temporarily, sleeping in bunk beds in my bedroom at Frome Court. We would spend the days writing – Bernie tapping out lyrics on a typewriter in the bedroom, bringing them to me at the upright piano in the living room, the scurrying back to the bedroom again as I started to set them to music. We couldn’t be in the same room if we were writing, but if we weren’t writing, we spent all our time together, in record shops, at the cinema. At night, we would go to gigs or hang around the musicians’ clubs, watching Harry Heart drink his vase full of gin, chatting to other young hopefuls. There was a funny little guy we knew who – in keeping with the flower-power mood of the times – had changed his name to Hans Christian Anderson. The aura of fairy tale otherworldliness conjured by this pseudonym was slightly punctured when he opened his mouth and a thick Lancashire accent came out. Eventually he changed his first name back to Jon and became the lead singer of Yes.

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