“Without Bernie, basically, there wouldn’t have been an Elton John.” So says Captain Fantastic himself, and to celebrate his collaborator of more than half a century, here’s uDiscover’s playlist featuring ten of Bernie Taupin’s greatest lyrics.
Continues Elton: “I mean, without that stroke of good fortune and kismet as it were, Elton John probably wouldn’t have happened. I’m just a purveyor of Bernie’s feelings, Bernie’s thoughts.”
Bernard John Patchett Taupin was born on 22 May 1950 in a farmhouse with no electricity, between the village of Anwick and the town of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, England. He was a mere 17 when he met an aspiring young piano player called Reginald Dwight, little knowing that their working relationship would create more than 30 albums over half a century, and counting.
Our list is a highly subjective selection that nevertheless includes some crucial staging posts in Taupin’s career, chiefly with Elton but also with other artists. ‘The Greatest Discovery,’ from the Elton John album, is one of his finest early lyrics, about the birth of a sibling, and ‘Levon,’ from Madman Across The Water, captures the pair’s love of Americana.
Honky Chateau contained the evocative ‘Rocket Man,’ which lends its name to the 2019 musical fantasy based on Elton’s life, and it’s impossible not to include the title song of the landmark Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ told the story of Elton’s early thoughts of suicide when he was unhappily engaged to be married, while ‘Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)’ poignantly expresses the desolation felt by both John and Taupin at the death of their friend John Lennon. ‘Postcards From Richard Nixon’ is a vivid tableau from The Captain and the Kid, the duo’s “what happened next” sequel to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.
From Taupin’s extensive work with other artists (which included co-writing such hits as Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ and Heart’s ‘These Dreams’), we feature the excellent‘Mendocino County Line’ by Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack and, from the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, Emmylou Harris’ recording of Bernie’s lyric and Gustavo Santaolalla’s ‘A Love That Will Never Grow Old,’ which won a Golden Globe award for Best Original Song. Then we have a more recent example of Taupin’s Americana iconography on ‘I’ve Got 2 Wings,’ from his 2016 collaboration with his creative soul mate, Elton’s album Wonderful Crazy Night.
Follow the official Elton John Best Of playlist.