The Santa Barbara County lyricist behind hits like "Rocketman" and "Daniel" now has a autobiography
Bernie Taupin teamed up with Elton John more than a half century ago, creating a duo that's created some of the biggest hits in modern music history.
He’s written some of the most iconic lyrics in music. You might not know his name, but the Santa Barbara County man is a storyteller who's helped create some of the biggest hit songs of the last half century.
Bernie Taupin teamed up with Elton John to make some of the world’s most loved music. Taupin creates the lyrics, and John the music. He talks about where he gets the ideas, and the inspiration for their songs.
"From reading, from life, from observing...I've always said I prefer to be referred to as a storyteller, rather than a songwriter. My whole life has been cinematic in the sense that I feel like a cinematographer," said Taupin.
Taupin grew up in a small town south of London. He knew he wanted to be some type of storyteller. He was inspired by some of the storytelling ballads in American country music.
When he was just 17, a record company which had some of his lyrics matched him up with Reginald Dwight, the man we now know as Elton John. They immediately clicked with each other, with Taupin writing the lyrics, and John the music.
The Santa Ynez Valley resident said early in his career, some of his songs were more like observations, than storytelling.
"'Songs like 'Take Me To The Pilot' are complete mumbo-jumbo. It's just stream of consciousness," said Taupin. "It has no real meaning, but the beauty of writing songs is that you let the people that listen to them come up with their own concepts of them."
But, Taupin said the lyrics, and music evolved. He talks about what led to one of the duo’s biggest hits, Your Song. He was just 18 when he wrote the lyrics.
"I wrote it at Elton's mother's apartment in the suburbs of London, at breakfast. I gave it to him to look at, and he said 'This has got egg on it,' and I said 'Go write it'. There was no reason behind the song...it was just a very virginal processing of love," said Taupin.
Taupin says more than half a century later, their approach to creating new songs remains the same.
"We've never done it any different. Lyrics first, music second. We've never sat together and written a song," said Taupin.
He says one thing has changed: While they write separately, they do get together now in the studio to try the results together.
Taupin has written a new book about his life, and career, called Scatterershot. It tells his story, from growing up in a small town to spending evenings with everyone from John Lennon to Frank Sinatra.
"I'm 73, and not to say I'm at the end of my career but it (the book) makes sense now," he said. "What will people take away from it? If people think it will be an endless litany of stories about Elton and I, they're coming to the wrong source. This book is about me, and my life, which is very, very different than Elton's."
Over the decades, he’s also become an accomplished artist. Taupin is an Academy Award winner, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy honoree, and a member of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.
But, Taupin says one of the most rewarding things is seeing how the duo’s songs have remained popular over the decades, and have connected with new generations.
He said when he's gone to concerts it's amazing to see not just those in their 60's, 50's and 40's who love the music, but also teenagers who not only know the songs, but are singing along because they know the words.