Bernie Taupin takes weeks to write the lyrics. Elton John takes 40 minutes to write the music.


From The New York Times:

The partnership started with an ad in an English music magazine in 1967. Liberty Records was looking for songwriters, and Bernie Taupin, a farmworker and amateur poet from Lincolnshire, sent in a sheaf of lyrics, not expecting much. Around the same time a frustrated young blues pianist named Reg Dwight auditioned for the label. An executive didn’t like Mr. Dwight’s material but tossed him a stack of Mr. Taupin’s lyrics and said, “See what you can do with these.”

Elton John, left, and Bernie Taupin, receiving the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in June.
Since then Mr. Taupin and Mr. Dwight, who later became Elton John, have written dozens of hit songs and more than two dozen albums and have sold 250 million records. Their latest effort, “The Diving Board,” a stripped-down collection of dark piano-driven songs that look backward with the heartache of advancing years, came out on Capitol Records on Tuesday; critics have called it Mr. John’s best work in decades.

When one thinks of great songwriting teams, one imagines them lounging in a studio with guitars and empty beer bottles or sitting at a piano together, joking, fighting, becoming excited over a tune’s possibilities. But Mr. Taupin and Mr. John have always worked separately. Their songs start out as Mr. Taupin’s poetic meditations, inspired by some event in his life or something he has read.

He labors for weeks on his horse ranch in Southern California and delivers the lyrics fully formed to Mr. John, who goes into a studio, props the papers on the piano and churns out melodies and harmonies to fit the words at breakneck speed. “It’s kind of spooky,” Mr. John said in an interview. “I get bored if it takes more than 40 minutes.”

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