This Is Your Song: The Elton John Interview
Vancouver, April 22, 1971
By Mike Quigley, Tracey Lee Hearst & Rick McGrath
Rick: What do you think of all this [flack cocktail party routine] ... doing this kind of stuff?
Elton: I'm used to it, believe me, I'm used to it. First time I came over to Los Angeles when it all sort of happened, as I said before I just met so many people like this. I'm immune to it now. I go through it all with all "Oh well, it must be done," and that's it. I really couldn't come down here and say fuck off ... it's not me. We've been through this before, in the interview before, that if I was a Mick Jagger person I'd just come down here and tell everyone to piss off, but that's not me. I can't do it. They're a necessary evil, I think.
Rick: How much are we going to overlap here? What did you go through before?
Elton: We went through a variety of things. Television programs. How Bernie and I got together, which is a stock question on all these meetings.
Mike: So we won't ask you...
Elton: We just went through a lot of things. It was quite thorough. It was quite good actually. I just said I wish somebody would attack me, as I thought you might be a good person to attack me.
Mike: Oh really? Why?
Elton: Well, as I was saying ... everyone's so nice to me, usually. A young college kid came into New York and I hadn't met him and I was doing this college thing and he said, "I think your music's rubbish," and I really quite appreciated that. We fought hammer and nail through the whole hour and a half that I spoke to him, and he ended up going out and buying a couple of my albums ... no, it wasn't like that. People write about me in print but they never have the nerve to say it in front of my face. If they really have any genuine feelings, they should tell me, because I respect their points of view.
Mike: OK, on your latest album, which I reviewed this week...
Elton: Friends ... it's not my "latest album." It's a film soundtrack album which we contracted to do before Elton John was ever released. As a film soundtrack album, I think it's probably the best film soundtrack album ever released. Put that down in print.
Mike: (laughs) Do you think it represents you, though?
Elton: Yes ... no, it represents what we had to write for the film. The whole story behind the film was they contracted us to do three songs. There's two bits in the film where they have a tape recorder sequence for 20 seconds or whatever it was, where everyone's leaping up and down, and a radio sequence for 30 seconds, and they said "You're going to have to write two songs that last for 20 and 30 seconds, and put them on the album." I thought well that's ridiculous. Bernie and I said, "We can't do that," so they said, "We want three songs -- the title song". They were going to call the movie The Intimate Game, and Bernie and I said "No, we will not write any songs named for a movie, and we suggested Friends, so we'll settle for Friends." And we had to write another song, which was Michelle's Song. They wanted another song, which was to last a minute and ten. And for film writing, if they want a song that's a minute and ten seconds long, then you're supposed to write a song that's a minute and ten seconds long. You have to time it, and all this rubbish. So we all got together, and we were panicking like mad, and Bernie said write a song that's very short, and we did, and it was a minute and ten seconds long, and I don't know how, by the grace of God, that it was a minute and ten seconds. So that was Seasons. And then they said, "We want a soundtrack album," and I said, "That's awful," because there's very little music in the film. And we said "it's terrible, we've only got three songs." You can't put an album together with all that on. You know, with soundtrack albums, you get bits with motorcars that beep, and horses galloping. So we said, right, we're going to do this thing with the 20 and 30 second songs, then we'll write two songs and re-record the whole album. So we recorded the whole album once for the film, and then went back into our own studio which we always use studio and recorded the whole soundtrack album... so people would at least get a bit of value for their money. They get five songs instead of three and horses galloping. It was recorded and written in four weeks, in between the first song when I came to the States, which was a three-week promotional trip and my first major tour, so it was recorded in between September and October, in September in fact, as a soundtrack album ... ah ... the record company are promoting it as a new Elton John album, and kids will probably think it is a new Elton John album.
Mike: Especially since the Elton John name is bigger than the title of the film...
Elton: Yeah, which is pissing me off somewhat. That's 'cause the guy in London (who's a complete idiot) who runs Paramount Records, said that he said he wanted a really great sleeve. So the people that produced the film and made the film were really great -- it was independently produced film from Paramount -- they said right, and they took the Tumbleweed Connection sleeve up and said to this guy, "Isn't this great? Look, it's got a booklet. We'd like something like this for Friends." And like the guy who designed it, this friend of ours, said yeah, this is a great idea. And the guy said it was rubbish -- the worst thing he'd ever seen, and he said "Wait till we come up -- we'll come up with something that'll sweep this off the board." And they came up with that strawberry coloured rubbish. I suppose I can't blame the Paramount Record Company for putting my name on it in big letters, cause I would have probably done that ... I don't know ... I don't want to get into that anyway. It's not an Elton John album, believe me. The album was gold within three weeks, so that's ... it's amusing; I'm knocked out, I'm very glad that it is a gold record. But it's not an Elton John album. We've got a live album coming out in three weeks.
Mike: Somebody said you wanted that to be coupled with Empty Sky.
Elton: Yeah, I did. I've had these hassles the past week. We've got two things that have been released in England -- the live album and the Empty Sky, which hasn't come out here yet anywhere, and I wanted Empty Sky and the live album to come out for $5.98, both albums. The fact really is, that all my albums have gone up to $5.98, which I found out. So I wanted the live album to be a free album ... you know, "Thank you very much, America, there's a free album -- Empty Sky." And, of course, all the hierarchy that I'm concerned with said no. And I get so pissed off with fighting. Everyone had a different idea. They wanted the live album to come out in July, which would have been ludicrous, because so many people are importing it, it would have been dead. And other people wanted it not to come out at all (the live album). And some other people wanted Empty Sky to come out first. Ah, you wouldn't believe it. So we settled for Empty Sky not to come out yet, which is all right. They say that it's better for my "mystique" that it should remain on import. And the live album will come out in three weeks. And the live album is different than the one in England because it's got a different mix and time. Much better mix and time. So that's the situation. I'm going to get criticized for that album, because everyone will say. "Oh, fuck, not another Elton John album!" But it has to come out now, because it has been released and people are playing it. So I'm just going to have to face the criticism. It's a bloody good live album. What decided for me that it was a good live album was the CSN&Y, which I was eagerly awaiting, and I thought it was a disaster...a total and utter disaster. I thought, "Well we can't go much more wrong than that". I hear that the CSN&Y live album is a gold record before it comes out... it's done two million dollars worth of sales. There's two or three really nice things on it, but I think it's an unmitigated disaster. I thought well, ours is so much better than that. It's not fair to point that out, but that's what decided that it really should come out. I don't know your opinion on the Crosby, Still, Nash & Young album is.
Mike: It hasn't come out here yet.
Elton: No...that's right, I went to a record shop today and I couldn't believe it. I said to the woman, "Have you got Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones? And she said yes, and then she said no, we've ordered some and they're coming in next week and she had only ordered ten of it (laughs).
Mike: One of the things that bothered me, that I sort of hinted at in my review, was that I have a lot of respect for you as an artist, but there's also this thing about mystique. I mean, Rick and I were one of the first people in this area to hear your album because we got it from MCA in the States, before it was released here, and now there's a lot of, what you call hype, behind you. And what do you think of all this?
Elton: I know there's a lot of hype. I'm over in England and I'm not really aware of what's going on. I have somebody who's trying to control it, one person. There's hype, but there's hype with everybody. Record companies, believe me, no matter what record company you're with, they're going to try to hype you, because, really, all record companies are interested in is making money. We have a very good relationship with MCA, a really fantastic relationship. I'd rather be hyped in the way I am than to be hyped in the way that Warner-Reprise hype their artists. I think their ads are so hip they're actually revolting. And there's no new artists to break through on Warner Reprise Kinney Group Records, that I can think of in the last two or three years. I mean, they've just managed to break Gordon Lightfoot, which I thought was tremendous of them. I think that kind of hype is more revolting. I'd rather be saying, "Here is the great Elton John -- buy him!" than, "Well, fellows, do a very clever advert." I'm not into that at all. It's just a very snobbish way of saying "We're trying to be hip" and most of the people at Warner Brothers aren't hip. I really don't mind. It's up to me to prove it, whether I'm worth it or not, or whatever it is. I mean, people have to decide for themselves. It's wrong for a person to decide that you're a hype just by listening to the adverts. They should go out and buy the records, discover whether you're a hype or not, or go and see you live. If then you've failed, if then they've seen or heard you and they think you're a hype, then that's fair enough -- they've had a chance to listen to you. I don't think you can avoid it, can you? I mean, how can you possibly avoid being hyped? It's impossible. Some people don't get hyped enough, people like David Ackles, who could well be hyped as much as I've been. But once you're successful, they're going to try to get as much hype going as possible. And you have to live with that -- it's a fact of life. Right?
Rick: Yeah...I'm just listening...trying to keep up with you. And asking you a question.
Elton: I'm glad we've had this opportunity to talk about this. (To Mike) I read your article last night, and I was very impressed by it. No, I really liked it... there was a review of Friends in Rock Magazine which took about twelve lines and really slated it, and it amused me ... not amused me, but I'd quite like to meet the person who wrote that review and talk to him, because I get so bored with people saying, "Oh here we are Wonder-Dog of 1973." The whole magazine [Georgia Straight] was quite interesting. I read a lot of that sort of thing. "Mikey Muzak" quite amused me.
Mike: (laughs) That was a step down...it used to be Mikey Music.
Elton: I actually heard Your Song on Muzak the other day and it freaked me out. I thought to myself, you have arrived. But wait till The Supremes album gets to the shops. And Rolling Stone reviews that with my [unintelligible] but I really do like The Supremes and no one believes me.
Mike: I like Henry Mancini and nobody believes me...
Elton: You like Henry Mancini? I was on the Henry Mancini Show in America about four weeks ago. It was a special. They just filmed a bit of me playing live. We have the same Agency, so, you know...
Tracey Lee: It's like Andy Williams...
Elton: Oh, Andy Williams is a joke. We were hanging around L.A. -- I wanted to get home, it was Christmas, and I wanted to get home. We hang around for a week, and we get a rehearsal every day, and they say, right, you do two numbers. We pre-record the backtrack, fine, and we do a big thing at the end which originally started by Andy Williams wanting to do Love The One You're With, which is OK by me, and it's going to be Mama Cass, me, Ray Charles and Andy Williams. Ray Charles didn't come -- I can't blame Ray Charles, he's probably been through all this before, he didn't come to any of the rehearsals, and he didn't want to sing Love The One You're With, so then it was gonna be My Sweet Lord, and he didn't want to sing that, they got down to Heaven Help Us All, and he didn't want to sing that, but they said it was that or nothing, so we all sang that. Ohhh, and they cut one of our numbers off. We spent all day and I did my "Goodbye, Andy" bit and they never showed it which was a real drag because I was quite good in it.
Tracey Lee: Didn't they show the one where you sang...
Elton: In England we saw with Heaven Help Us All, and Mama Cass stood in front of me, which was most annoying. I had no chance, that was my big moment and Mama Cass just goes (makes elbowing move).
Tracey Lee: You were lucky you weren't there the night Ike and Tina were on and Andy Williams sung with her (laughs).
Elton: Oh, I've got a lot of respect for Andy. For a start, he was very nice to me, but he was really trying to think of all these .. .he was really more aware of things than I thought he was. He was reading off all these albums that he wanted to choose things off to sing, and the guy could still be singing.
Tracey Lee: Moon River…
Elton: On The Street Where You Live .. and he does set himself up, which I like.
Mike: I think he produced the latest Everly Brothers album.
Elton: No. On the Barnaby label? No, those things are on the Warners label.
Mike: I'm sure he had something to do with that.
Elton: No, I mean, like, you could be a Tony Bennett ... I've got no respect for people like Tony Bennett because they're just bores. Andy Williams has got a very pleasant voice. He sends himself up.
Tracey Lee: I don't really like him.
Elton: No, I wouldn't watch his show by choice, but the guy's aware, at least he's aware of what's going on. He's into modern music. He has a lot of quite good guests on his show: Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey and me (laughs). And that's my last and first time on the Andy Williams Show.
Mike: And how do you like Canada, Elton John?
Elton: I dunno. It was pissing with rain all day. The first thing I noticed was that the air was fresh. It really was. It was cold, but it's not like England. And Elizabeth is on the coins, isn't she? There you go. It seems English to me. That could change, yeah. But it does seem English to me, and I think that's nice. Some people in the hotel are English, and you get people saying [unintelligible] because we get so many hassles travelling. No, I just had my hair cut. I had my hair cut 'cause it was in terrible condition. I was going to Hawaii and I was going to swim every day and it was long, really, down to there (gestures).
Mike: Well, Elton John, what's coming up for you in the way of albums?
Elton: I have a live one with Mae West coming out in four years time … if we can both get on the same microphone ... she's put on a little weight (laughs). There's a new album coming out, I hope, there's going to be this bloody live album -- get that out of the way -- and then there won't be anything from me for about six months. By that time we should have two albums ready. I still don't want there to be anything after the live album for a long time because I think people are going to criticize the live album coming out, and they are going to cut me up, and they are going to say it's being rammed down their throats, and I'm getting fed up with it.
Mike: Is it being rammed down their throats as much in Britain as it is in North America?
Elton: It was ... well, no ... 'cause there's only one radio station. So you don't get it rammed down your throat so much, right? No, the English people sort of reacted to me after I was a success in North America. The albums both went zooming up the charts...the new one's come straight in at 20. They've been very nice to us over here and the English sort of reaction has been very understanding and we have more criticism ... it's funny ... you get criticized for different things over there than you do over here. The Friends album has got to be criticized more over here ... but in England, it's got rave reviews. So you can't win in both territories. I don't mind. You can't please everybody. I never intended to try and please everybody. I can't believe this is happening anyways. I can't believe we've sold one million albums of Elton John. It seems ludicrous. Because at the time we made it ... we were knocked out when it came into the British charts at 47 ... Live is very strange ... very strange ... I don't think it's affected me as a person -- I used to be equally outspoken ... or the same sort of person I was before it happened. I've seen so much hype and I've had so much hype and I've had so many interviews that it's all really gotten over my head, and I've been able to handle it, because I'm sort of ... if I'd have been 17 years old and just fresh out of college, I would probably been sort of ... oh ... I just don't want to think about it. So I ... what does it all mean? I'm quite happy the way things are. I'm happy just to make music ... what a great ending ... I'm just happy to make my music, he said, and we left him sitting there, crying. (All laugh) And tomorrow night it's going to be echoesville at the Agrodome...
Mike: Agrodome ... we did a fake commercial for the Agrodome once ... it was something like: "Get together with the cows" ... you know, it's a cow palace.
Elton: Yeah, they've got the plastic cows on it. Yeah, we've got a lighting man, because I think lighting is very important, and he said he just couldn't believe it ... he went in there today and saw these eight-foot papier maché cows hanging from the ceiling, which I thought was very nice .. .that appeals to me very much.
Tracey Lee: Well, it's the place where they hold all the horse shows.
Elton: Yeah, cow palace ... so we'll be playing with piles of horse manure
Tracey Lee: I went and saw Liberace there and they didn't even cover the floor and all these dolls in their spikey heel shoes were sinking three inches into the mud floors.
Elton: I like Liberace very much. He appeals to me.
Tracey Lee: It was one of the best concerts I ever attended.
Elton: He's just so outrageous. He's like a middle-aged Mick Jagger. It freaks me out. Well, what else? You must have some more questions.
Rick: Speaking about the music, you know ... with the last three albums (Quigley and I actually do have copies of Empty Sky), we've noticed that the piano work and the melody line and the rhythms are starting to repeat themselves, and we were wondering if it's just because you happen to do these albums in a relatively short time.
Elton: This is always amusing ... "the melody line"... Such as what? I mean, this guy in Rock Magazine said Honey Roll sounds like Burn Down the Mission, which I thought was vaguely amusing -- the guy should be put into an institution.
Rick: Well, you've got to admit that it's starting to … like, it might be because you've just got a heavily stylized way of playing and you pick it up really easily, therefore whenever you keep playing these things, the style comes out ... it's very predominant. Your songs really remind me of each other.
Elton: Well, which ones?
Rick: Well, I don't know which ones offhand. That's what I mean about the style thing.
Mike: That's what I was sort of saying in my review ... like some of the songs in there reminded me of earlier things ... and I wondered if you were going to branch out into something else like, you know, cut out the piano have some sort of orchestra or what…
Elton: No, well, you see none of these need an orchestra. They need a piano ... like we could have had piano on Love Song ... (unintelligible) but some need piano more than others.
Rick: I was just wondering, the fact
that it all did happen in a relatively short space of time. … like if you were composing things all the time, instead of
having earlier things already written, it would tend to…
Elton: Well, all the new songs we've done are going to be on the next album. Elton John, Tumbleweed, all the songs on both albums were all written before the albums were recorded. We had two albums worth of stuff. And by the next album comes out, we'll have two albums worth of stuff. I can see that you must repeat yourself, in a way. A lot of people ... I suppose I always defend myself, it's pretty natural. I know what you mean about the beat, a lot of our songs...
Mike: Like the dum-de-dum-de-dum [beginning of Your Song] riff happens a lot.
Elton: Well, I like that. But if you listen to a lot of Leon Russell's stuff, who's my idol, and I won't have a word said against him, a lot of his piano playing sounds similar. It's just a style you get into. I hope I can branch out ... that's got me worried.
Mike: You're going to start playing (unintelligible) riffs next.
Elton: It's just a style you get into ... I copied Leon Russell, and that was it. I did. I heard the Delaney and Bonnie album on Elektra and I just went through the roof. I nearly retired at that point. I figured there wasn't much point in playing anymore. And the first time I ever met him, he was in the front row of the Troubadour in Los Angeles. It was the second night we were there and I thought aww ... I was great until the last number and I saw this ... this great bloody most incredible looking person in the world ... and I saw him there and my knees went zzzippp! ... and he invited me up to his house and I thought he's going to invite me up there and tie me to a chair and whip me and say "This is how to play the piano!" ... and ohhh ... I was really scared ... and I've never been scared of meeting anyone ... like I've met Dylan and everybody and I really haven't given a fuck ... excuse me.
Mike: We'll cut that out.
Elton: Cut the French out, yeah ... this is the western part of Canada ... and I was petrified meeting him ... but aww ... he's so sweet ... he's really great. A lot of people got the wrong idea ... interviewers think he's a big, moody so-and-so because he doesn't say anything, but that's Leon. He just sits there and goes "Yeaoh". I grant you that some of the songs may sound the same, but if they do, that is very deceptive. I can't tell, because I never listen to my own recordings. Perhaps I should.
Mike: (FM announcer's voice) Tell me, Elton John, for all the classical fans out there ... who are your favorite classical composers?
Elton: Tchaikovsky and Sibelius.
Mike: Are you being esoteric?
Elton: No, I really like Tchaikovsky ... I'm very romantic as a rule ... I like Tchaikovsky and (unintelligble) I'm not really into Mozart. He's too twiddley. I like Bach ... the only Bach I really like are his organ pieces … you know: ta-dah! If I really play, I like Tchaikovsky ... and the only reason I said Tchaikovsky is because I've seen a film called The Music Lovers which is about his life ... has it come here?
Mike: It's been here.
Elton: It's the most amazing film I've ever seen ... I've seen it about 8,000 times. The music is core. It's a drag that he's so popular because the music's really good. I mean, everyone's heard the 1812 and no one will now buy an 1812 record because it's the classical record that everybody has. But it's just amazing.
Mike: They played that here last night.
Elton: The 1812? Beautiful! Unbelievable. The guy was a genius. I like Stravinsky as well. I like lyrical composers and I think Sibelius and Stravinsky are really good. And I like Terry Riley, (unintelligible) John Cale … he's only ever had one album ... (unintelligible) ... I like Turkish street music, there's no end to what I like ... you put it on ... there's a woman singer, an Indian singer called Subbalakshmi…
Mike: How do you spell that?
Elton: S-u-bb-al-a-k-s-h-m-i. If you can get any of her albums -- there's about four -- she's amazing! You wouldn't believe it. You wouldn't think such things were possible with the human voice. And Dionne Warwick's good. There you go.
Mike: OK ... I think we had better wrap this up very shortly ... do you have any final questions, Tricky Rick?
Elton: Tricky Rick? You sound like a Top 40 DJ...
Mike: It is ... we've got a thing called Radio H-Y-P-E.
Rick: It's a mythical radio station and we're the two disc jockeys ... AM and FM
Elton: (speaks fast) Tricky Rick … Tricky Rick...
Mike: The FM disc jockeys talk like ... (lowers voice, speaks very slowly) hmmm, well ... hmmm ... stoned ... Elton John ... far out ... yeah…
Elton: Yes, you're perfectly right ... FM disc jockeys always speak like ... (slows down) ... "and now we have some Carole King..." (speeds up) "and that was Stevie Wonder ... we can work it out … on the Boss Top 40 ... yeah, groovy"...
(We all do various voices)
Elton: And the FM ones always try to sound stoned ... and you go and visit the radio stations and they're all 88 year old people with beards!
Elton: It's all a laugh, isn't it? That's what it is … a laugh. It's the best thing in the world. It's the greatest high in the whole world to just sit down and kill yourself laughing. God's natural high ... apart from other things.
This is the original 1971 Georgia Straight interview introduction by Mike Quigley
We enter the Holiday Inn on Howe Street through its Southern-fried colonnade and up its Harlequin Romance staircase into the Columbia Room with its Christmas tree light candelabras. There we meet the Head Canadian Flack from MCA-Uni Records, who are throwing this little cocktail party-reception for Elton John. A stereo set on a table hums out Elton John Muzak, in contrast to the tinny string goop in the lobby outside.
Other radio people, promoters, photographers, newsmen, and assorted sycophants surf in and circulate. I meet one reporter, a friend I haven't seen since high school five years ago. I also run into deposed CKLG-FM jock Bob Ness, who remarks on the unfairness of my Laura Nyro review to the folksinger on the programme with her. A pant-suited woman from CHQM looks at me and says, "I don't believe I've met this gentleman". I look to a flack beside her. He's forgotten my name, so l introduce myself, which is the total extent of our conversation for the evening.
Elton John finally arrives, sporting a short-cropped Julius Caesar shag haircut, his Tumbleweed Connection sunglasses, yellow and green velveteen trousers, a white ruffled Liberace shirt with a blue serge-ish midicoat, white patent leather boots, and a large Donald Duck button on his right lapel. A cheap champagne glass of warm, flat Faisca is thrust into his hand.
Province reviewer Jeani Read, attired in buckskin hot pants and a matching midicoat, quickly nabs the Star and drags him off to a corner for a private interview. This gets the MCA-Uni flacks uptight. They want him to circulate among the forty or so people in the room, and then Meet The Press in a group session. They glide through the crowd, whispering, "Cool it, cool it."
Elton John finally works his way into the crowd after some polite edging from the flacks. I'm introduced to him and he says, "Oh, you're the guy who gave me shit," referring to my review of his Friends album and my remarks on the Agrodome. We rap about Penderecki, the Polish composer (the opening cello riff on Sixty Years On is taken from P's Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and EJ's arranger, Paul Buckmaster is a "real Penderecki freak"). But I can sense the "lets-get-moving-cause-there's-all-these-other-people-for-him-to-meet" feeling from the flacks and his Agent Man, so we part for the moment.
I approach EJ's clean-shaven Agent Man when he's alone for a second. He's an older guy -- in his forties, I'd say. He's outfitted in brown shoes, beige pants, a brown shirt with white stitching, a blue blazer with a silk handkerchief in the pocket, and a large ruby ring on his left little finger. After some introductory trivia, I ask him if it's possible for me to get in to see the show the following night.
He doesn't seem very interested. He tells me he's got no control over comps. He tells me to go and see the MCA-Uni flacks. Strange thing is they were the ones who referred me to HIM on this matter. They've had to lay out sixty-six odd bucks for tickets to see their own artist.
By then it's interview time, and the TV men with their blaringly bright lights get first crack. A reporter I know asks, "Is this going to be a disaster?" referring to the general disorganization.
Then another group of radio, newspaper, and rock magazine reporters sit down and rap with the Star. By this time I don't feel much like doing an interview, though the flacks keep asking me if McGrath and I would. So we sit down and wait and wait.
Roy Hennessey, uniformed in a flame-colored Harry Belafonte shirt and black pants, strolls over to where we're sitting. He says hello to me. He ignores McGrath. McGrath turns to me and J.B. Shayne and says, "Do you think we should tell him that Hallowe'en isn't till October?" Hennessey walks away.
Finally, it's our turn to talk. A flack says, "We'll cut in now because these guys have been going on too long." The Agent Man now addresses me by my first name, motioning me to come over into the other part of the divided room. I grab my tape recorder and McGrath, Tracey Hearst and I sit down and talk for a good thirty minutes.
It's not a very good interview, though. Elton John talks like a madman -- I wouldn't have believe he could still have so much energy after all he's already gone through. But then, as he says, he's practically "immune" to these affairs by now.
We finish, and then the TV men say they want to shoot another short sequence. Elton John sits down at the grand piano in one corner of the room and plays "The Great Discovery." A baby appears out of somewhere and is placed as a prop atop the piano. The TV cameraman slinks around, capturring the impromptu event in a manner which suggests the opening sequence of Blow-Up, where Verushka was photographically fucked over by David Hemmings. The baby waves its arms and legs about. The TV lights beat down.
There's not much of an audience at this point. It's almost three hours since we arrived. When the song is over, and we're on our way, the Agent Man wanders through the dispersing crowd. He says, smiling for the second time this evening (the first being when he called us over to do the interview), "The song really fits -- "The Greatest Discovery."