Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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

from Me by Elton John:

They were also the product of the bedroom at Frome Court. At the time we were writing, two artists were constantly on the Littlewoods stereo. One was the rock/soul dup Delaney and Bonnie. I was completely obsessed with the way their keyboardist, Leon Russell, played. It was like he’d somehow climbed into my head and worked out exactly how I wanted to play piano before I did. He’d managed to synthesize all the music I loved – rock and roll, blues, gospel, country – into one, perfectly natural style.

And the other was The Band. We played their first two albums over and over again. Like Leon Russell’s piano playing, their songs felt like someone switching a torch on and showing us a new path to follow, a way we could do what we wanted to do. ‘Chest Fever,’ ‘Tears of Rage,’ ‘The Weight’: this was what we craved to write. Bernie went crazy for the lyrics. Ever since he was a kid, he’d loved gritty stories about old American, and that was what The Band told: ‘Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train, ‘til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore the tracks up again.’ They were white musicians making soul music without covering ‘In The Midnight Hour,’ or doing something that was just a pale imitation of what black artists did. It was a revelation.

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