Bernie Taupin and Elton John have been making music history for more than forty years. Taupin has been the lyrical genius behind many of John’s major popular hits, including “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Candle in the Wind.” According to Elton John, “Without Bernie, basically, there wouldn’t have been an Elton John…I’m just a purveyor of Bernie’s feelings, Bernie’s thoughts.”
But there is much more creative vitality beyond just songwriting for Taupin. Equally there is the other artist in him—the one with the brushes and paints who creates emotive canvases. Ranging from abstract blocks and oblongs of tantalizing hues to cryptic social commentary captured in multi-media form, his works are rich in color, depth, and varying complexity.
Taupin doesn’t stop there. He also hosts a bi-weekly program on Sirius XM, The Loft channel 30, “American Roots Radio with Bernie Taupin.” Here, Taupin enthusiastically showcases his favorite music ranging from Blind Willie Johnson and Louis Jordon to Dean Martin, The Louvin Brothers and Lionel Hampton to Mahalia Jackson.
Why do you create?
It’s either that or suffer a cranial explosion of nuclear proportions.
What makes you vulnerable?
My children, the homeless and the passing of a good dog.
What do you do with your pain?
Live with it temporarily, contemplate it, then either paint it, put it in a song or bury it in a small hole in the ground.
How do you meet the world every day and bring more color to it?
With difficulty on occasion, but generally with a positive attitude. Early risers catch the world waking and see its true colors.
What has been your greatest struggle?
Coming to terms with mistakes I’ve made in the past and curbing my distaste for campaign funding.
How do you reset?
Sex and dry martinis.
Do you listen to music when you create? What kind/who?
It’s a mood thing dictated by the nature of the canvas and the time of day. Aaron Copland mixes well with bright colors in the morning, and anything from George Jones to Lonnie Johnson and The Louvin Brothers can accompany me throughout the day. Late afternoons and evenings belong to Howlin’ Wolf and Coleman Hawkins.
Where are you living these days?
I reside in my fertile imagination and the Santa Ynez Valley.
What’s most in your heart at the moment?
Currently a small nest of birds preparing to fly, but consistently it’s family—first, foremost and forever.
What would you say to young people?
Read books, discover the blues and don’t Tweet.
What projects are you creating now?
Notes for the 50th edition of my “American Roots Radio” show, a large canvas with distinctly Texan overtones, two musicals and this odd questionnaire.
Who has influenced you most in your life?
My Mother set me on the right track, Marty Robbins made me want to write songs, and Jesus Christ did the rest.
What artists have had the most influence on your work, if any?
Initially Hans Hofmann perhaps, but the diversity of my work doesn’t afford me the luxury of a singular artist to plagiarize.
What influence has your songwriting had on your work?
Who are your favorite artists?
Helen Frankenthaler, Anselm Kiefer, Hans Hofmann, Paul Gauguin and the Looney Tunes Guys.
Describe yourself in a few sentences.
A simple vessel with complex overtones, opinionated on occasions but willing to listen. Comfortable with reclusiveness and devoted to privacy and family. Patriotic to a fault and allergic to cruelty, ignorance and bad music.
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