Elton John Reflects: ‘I Never Would’ve Written These Songs Without My Classical Training’

Bythu lita

Jan 4, 2024

In a poignant revelation, Sir Elton John, the iconic singer-songwriter, attributes his unparalleled songwriting to his classical training. Acknowledging the profound impact of his musical education, Sir Elton John reflects on how his classical foundation has been the bedrock of his creative journey. The intricate melodies, rich harmonies, and timeless compositions that define his illustrious career bear the indelible imprint of his classical roots. In an era where genres often collide, Sir Elton’s confession stands as a testament to the enduring influence of classical training, underscoring its role in shaping the evolution of musical genius.

Sir Elton John speaks to Classic FM’s Tim Lihoreau at the Royal Academy of Music

“In those days, the Academy meant classical music and nothing else – certainly no rock ‘n roll. That was the devil’s music. But without my training, I never would’ve been able to write the songs I’ve written.

“I’m so grateful for my classical training. I played Chopin and Bach, and Mozart and Debussy.

“I was never good enough to be part of the Academy orchestra… but to be part of the choir was incredibly fulfilling,” he added.

“Just the noise you make, and the camaraderie… it is the most life-affirming experience, singing in a choir.”

“Music was one of the few O Levels I managed to get,” Sir Elton tells Tim.

“A lot of schools [now] have taken music out of the curriculum and I find that really appalling, because music is so inspiring and for kids that have the ability or want to play music, there’s no outlet for this in schools anymore. It’s tragic.”

“It’s very mystical. There’s no rhyme or reason. It exists, I don’t question it,” Elton replies. “It sounds very cliché but it’s like a gift from God.

“I look at his lyrics, as I’m looking at them a film appears, I finish the lyrics, I put my hands on the keys and then I go from there. Usually, the first four or five chords I play determine what the song’s going to do. And I have no idea where it comes from.”

Sir Elton John singing 'Candle In The Wind' at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales

“It was the only time I really got stage fright,” he tells Tim.

“It was an enormous responsibility, and I’d been singing that song for so many years as ‘Goodbye Norma Jean’, and I had to call on all my professionalism of all my years of playing in clubs and being Elton John to pull that off.

“And I was doing it for all the people outside, all around the world, so I had a teleprompter. I just didn’t want to sing ‘Goodbye Norma Jean’ – I would’ve been garrotted on the spot. And I pulled it off because I had to. You have to man up in situations like that.”

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