Elton John may be 74 and struggles with a questionable hip, but his musical tastes are still way cooler than most guys half his age.
While most aging rockstars are happy to rehash the sounds of their glory days, Sir Elton is more likely to be in a studio with people like Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Nas X.
Certainly, many collaborations for “The Lockdown Sessions”, his new album released Friday, must have happened on Zoom due to the pandemic, but this remains a testament to his omnivorous taste for new sounds.
“If you’re my age and continue to learn from other musicians, that’s the greatest gift of all,” said John.
He was speaking on a press call last month ahead of hip surgery that forced him to postpone several dates on his long farewell tour.
“If you close your head and say you can’t learn anything more… it’s a dead end,” he said.
“I’m more excited about music now than I’ve ever been. “
– ‘A chill’ –
The new album crosses the generations, starring everyone from Stevie Wonder to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder to his latest hit “Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa.
This approach is why The Rocketman has achieved the unprecedented feat of at least one UK top 10 single in each of the past six decades – 33 in total.
“It made me happy to see Young Thug walk into a studio and do freestyle. He just sat at the microphone and left. I was blown away, ”John said.
It’s an attitude that also means he doesn’t want any deference from his young collaborators, even though they know they’re working with a guy who has sold over 300 million albums.
“When (27-year-old dance star SJ Lewis) gave me the first version of our song, it was too Elton John-ish. “, Said Jean.
“I think he was afraid to insult me. But I wanted to be insulted! And he finally got there. He didn’t insult me at all – he made the record I wanted to make with him. ”
“The Lockdown Sessions” brings together new tracks as well as recent collaborations for albums by other artists, including his song for Gorillaz’s latest album and his cover of “Nothing Else Matters” which he recorded with Miley Cyrus for the 30th Anniversary of Metallica’s “Black Album”.
In some ways, it marks a return to its roots.
“I was a studio musician before I became Elton,” said British star, née Reginald Dwight.
Lil Nas X’s track, he said, was recorded at the same Abbey Road studio where he played the accompaniment piano for “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Holly 54. years earlier.
“I was like ‘I’ve come full circle here and I really love what I’m doing.’ ”
Having never lost her love of record stores, keeping your finger on the pulse is natural.
He put together a list of emerging artists who barely made their mark in mainstream media, including Trinidadian rapper Berwyn to teenage singer-songwriter Morgen.
” She is 16 years old! He said of Morgen. “When I was 16, I was still cleaning my nose. “
– ‘Friendship and authenticity’ –
He also used his “Rocket Hour” radio show on Apple Music to fuel his habit.
“It gave me access. When I play a record that I like, I interview them on the show or I call them.
“It’s important for me to offer friendship and authenticity,” he said, recalling how musicians like The Beach Boys and The Band reached out and encouraged him during his first time at the United States in the 1970s.
Having worked with almost every big pop star of the past half century, is there anyone left on their bucket list?
“Something with Billie Eilish someday,” he said. “But not yet, because she is still forging her own path. “
© 2021 AFP