In a new episode of Elton John’s Rocket Hour on Apple Music 1, Elton sits down with her husband and Canadian-born David Furnish for a Canada special. The two talk about Canada’s incredible wealth of talent, from Leonard Cohen to Joni Mitchell, kd lang, Ruth B and more.
Elton John and David Furnish on “Everybody Knows” and Leonard Cohen Being the Greatest Lyricist of All Time
Elton John: “Leonard Cohen is Canadian, was Canadian. I always liked Leonard Cohen from the start. Bernie and I used to sit there with our headphones on when we first met and listened to his albums and his poetry. For me, I think he’s probably the greatest lyricist of all time. I know a lot of people would say, “No, Bob Dylan. But I do know, something about Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who is also a Canadian, that all three of them are amazing songwriters. This song [“Everybody Knows”], you choose. Why did you choose this song?’
David Furnish: “For me, it’s just the epitome of Leonard Cohen, his vocal style, his deep deep voice, his incredible lyrics. You and I had the honor of seeing him on his last tour, his last tour, in the south of France. The man’s talent and originality are simply astounding.
Elton John: “It was like a religious experience. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Elton John and David Furnish get to know Joni Mitchell and his masterpiece ‘Blue’
Elton John: “Joni Mitchell”. Well, what can we say about Joni Mitchell? We’ve been privileged, you and I, to know Joni for the past two years, to go to her house, to sing songs. She came to our screening. We went to the concert that Brandi Carlile did of “Blue”. We saw her a lot in her recovery because she had a horrible aneurysm. It took him a long road to rehabilitation. Now she sings and paints again. Probably one of the best things about the last two years of our lives has been spending time with her, right?
David Furnish: “Amazing and a true testament to her spirit as a human being that she has recovered. We didn’t expect her to recover. It’s the music and it’s the songs and everyone who comes to her that brought her back to life.
Elton John: She’s definitely one of the most magical people I’ve ever met and definitely one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. The concert we went to see at Disney Hall in Los Angeles where Brandi Carlile sang the entirety of “Blue,” which is probably one of the best albums of all time, and sang it all the way through without a teleprompter . I said she was crazy.
David Furnish: “With Joni in the audience watching her.”
Elton John: “And with Joni sitting next to me. I chose this track from ‘Blue’ because it’s such a sad song in a way. It’s “Little Green”. This is about the child Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption in 1965. The whole ‘Blue’ album, if you don’t know it and don’t own ‘Blue’ then you need to get it for your record collection.’
David Furnish: “It’s a masterpiece.
Elton John: “It’s a masterpiece.”
Elton John talks about Canada and Rush’s incredible depth of talent
“We put this show together pretty quickly, and there are so many great Canadian artists that we left out. We’re going to have to do two more shows to get them all in. It just shows you what incredible depth of talent. We actually did the show, and then I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘Oh my God, we left out Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette. We left out Justin Bieber. We left out Shawn Mendez. It continued over and over again. Cowboy Junkies, Tragically Hip, Ron Sexsmith, and it went on and on. So there will be another Canadian show very, very soon. I think it’s very important to follow up on it fairly quickly.
“Right now we’re going to the most legendary Canadian band of all time, Rush. It’s a song called Tom Sawyer. It is obviously inspired by Tom Twain’s 1876 novel, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. Legendary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart passed away last year, and it was such a tragedy because I think most musicians considered him one of the band’s definitive drummers. Rush sold so many records and continued to do so. I want to play this piece to honor them and Neil.
Elton John on the importance of The Band to him
Elton John: ‘The Band, as everyone knows the songwriters of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, The Band… When we heard ‘Music from Big Pink’, it changed our lives. [Chest Fever] comes from this album. God, I could have chosen so many songs from The Band, but I love this one because of Garth Hudson’s amazing intro work on the organ. Were you a fan of The Band? A little early for you.
David Furnish: ‘I wasn’t in The Band. It wasn’t until I was with you and you started talking about how important they were to you and Bernie and the influence they had on your writing that I came back and I checked. Of course, you and I see Robbie Robertson every time we’re in Los Angeles for the Oscars. What an amazing group. I feel bad for not having met them sooner.
Elton John: ‘It was before your time in a way, but their music is so timeless. ‘
Elton John and David Furnish on kd lang being one of the best singers
Elton John: ‘We end with one of the greatest singers of all time in my opinion, and a great friend, and a great daughter, kd lang. Tell me about kd lang.
David Furnish: Oh my god, well, I think you’re right. kd lang has the best singing voice of any woman alive today. She sang this at an Elton John AIDS Foundation benefit night for us in New York and it was about as close to a religious experience, seeing someone live as I’ve ever seen of my life. His vocal talent on [“Hallelujah”] It’s incredible.
Elton John: ‘Definitely one of the greatest and one of the greatest songs. She chose Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” and it’s from his covers album “Hymns of the 49th Parallel” where she only covers Canadian songs. And if you don’t have that album, it’s as good an album as ‘Blue’, if you want to hear great Canadian songs.’
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