Bernie Taupin wasn't keen on releasing the new Elton John box set

News 05/11/2020

Bernie Taupin has admitted that he didn't want Elton John's 'Jewel Box' to be released because of his fear of embarrassment if fans heard their earliest songs.

The eight-disc collection features 60 previously-unheard songs that stretches back to the beginning of Taupin and John's writing partnership in 1967. Taupin explained that he was "a tad hesitant at first" about the release.

"To see the product of our initial attempts at songwriting 50 years after the fact … you can imagine it's a little alarming to reconvene with," he said to Rolling Stone. "I wasn't sure I wanted people to hear these things, to be honest. I thought I might be embarrassed by their naivete, especially the very, very early work. After all, at that time I was really faking it. The whole idea of how to construct a song was foreign to me. The idea of verse/chorus/bridge was big-pants terminology to me. Back then, I was throwing it down on the page. It was brain-to-pencil sort of free-form. It was a gradual process to find my voice. There was a lot of mimicries involved, a lot of purloining from what was currently a hit."

He also said he wouldn't even define the early tracks as "experimental" and used the phrase "floundering and grasping at straws" instead. An example was their 1968 song, 'Regimental Sgt. Zippo', an affectionate nod to the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper'.

"Can I honestly say that was a tip of the hat to Sgt. Pepper?" Taupin reflected. "Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But it certainly proved that we were hanging on the coattails of things that were currently popular - things like 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' were in vogue at that particular point in time. I think, in a way, I was literally trying to be part of a gang."

Taupin mentioned that he had delivered about 16-18 song ideas to John in hopes that it would be enough to produce a new album. "The idea was not to lay the things down on tape, but maintain them in his mind."

If he remembered them, they were keepers.

"That would be the way to tell if they were special or not. If he remembered them, they were keepers. If he didn't remember, maybe they should be brushed under the rug. That didn't happen. But he still has the work that I've done. I'm very, very proud of it. I think it's very, very special. ... I would love to see him start to do some work. As I say, I continually encourage him to do so. … I really, really would love to get back on track and back in the game."