Bernie Taupin tells Chris Evans about writing Your Song with Elton John: 'It came from a very naive place'

Virgin Radio

2 Oct 2023, 13:00

Bernie Taupin talks to Chris Evans on Virgin Radio.

When Bernie Taupin joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch to talk about his new autobiography, he recalled the time that he and Elton John wrote one of their most iconic songs.

The legendary songwriter’s autobiography, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me - which is out now - is a nonlinear “exploratory trip bouncing back and forth along the decades.” 

Taupin has written the lyrics for numerous hits, including Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets, I’m Still Standing and Your Song. Talking about the latter, Bernie told Chris that the creation of the song was very similar to how it was portrayed in the acclaimed biopic, Rocketman, which starred Taron Egerton as Elton and Jamie Bell as Bernie. 

“If anybody's seen the movie Rocketman, for the most part that is a fantasy, and chronologically, the music's mixed up all over the place. But there are a couple of scenes in Rocketman that are really, really very much the way that they happened.

“The composition of Your Song in the movie is really very much the way it happened. I mean, you see Elton and I at the breakfast table, Sheila [Farebrother - Elton’s mum] is in the kitchen. I think Elton's grandmother's in it, but she wasn't there at the time, in reality. There's a scene in the movie that I actually told them they should put in the script, because it's something that really happened. And I don't know how many people picked it up in the movie, but you see me writing it at the table, which I did. 

“It was stream of consciousness. It came from a very naive place. And the reason there's all those sort of pregnant pauses in the song is because that's basically how my mind worked at the time, because I was very naive, very virginal. And so it came from that place. But there's a bit in the movie, where I kind of pick it up and wave it under Elton's nose, and he kind of looks at it, he picks it up and he goes, ‘This has got egg on it’, which I remember clearly was the way it happened. And then he took it and went into the living room, where the old stand-up piano was, and sat and basically composed it in a very, very short time. 

He added: “But I think the way of looking at that is that sometimes the most classical pieces of music can happen in the shortest time.” 

Speaking more about his writing, Bernie told Chris: “There are things that I've written that I've written half of it at one particular point one year, and that probably didn't resurface again till the next year, because things were different then. The way that we wrote was completely different. We were writing all the time, as opposed to now, where we'll only write when we decide to make a record, which is maybe every five, ten years. But back then we were making two records a year as was everybody else. And so we were continually writing, but as I was travelling, you know, I would make copious notes, you know, something on my peripheral would inspire me, whether it be a character in an airport or an incident, I would just write it down." 

He continued: “It's like the story in the book about Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. The first night we ever went to New York, the cops shot somebody outside my window. I didn't see the actual shooting, but I saw the aftermath of it. And that's when I wrote the first stanza of Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, but I literally stuffed it in my bag and didn't use it and see it again until the following time I was in New York, hence the kind of juxtaposition of the bad and good of New York.”

Bernie also spoke about the first time he met Elton. Read about it here.

Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me is out now.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.