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 Q & A with Elton John

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The pop superstar, 66, talks about fatherhood, surviving a major health scare,
and why he's going back to his roots on his new album, 'The Diving Board'.

by Geoff Boucher in Entertainment Weekly

Elton Johns it a leap to call Elton John's The Diving Board a key contender for the Album of the Year award at next year's Grammys? Not really, when you consider the career subplots (shockingly, he's never won a statuette in the top-tier category), the early reviews (good to glowing; see our take below), and the Midas touch of marquee producer T Bone Burnett (the trophy magnet behind O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Crazy Heart). We caught up with the always bedazzling -- and bedazzled -- performer during a brief stop in L.A.

You have two young sons now. What surprises came along with fatherhood?
Everything I thought might be annoying about children turned out to be not annoying at all. I thought I would be temperamental with them, but if they misbehave, it's just because they're kids. I just love every second of it. It's helped make me a nicer person and it's helped settle me down. It's helped me musically, too, because I'm so happy in my own skin.

You had a nasty health scare earlier this year with a badly inflamed appendix.
I'm lucky to be alive, and it was an awful experience. You feel you're giving birth to an alien at any moment.

T Bone Burnett saw you perform in 1970 at the Troubadour in L.A., and his main advice on Diving Board was to start with the musical approach of those club days...
I've made 40 albums, but in all this time I've never put he sound that first made me famous [as a concert act] on any studio record. T Bone was the one who said, "I want to go back to basics," and with him I've actually fallen in love with making records again.

Your appetite for the next new thing in music could have made this album a collage of the latest beats and arrangements, but instead your restlessness led you to something that revels in the tradition and simple foundations.
It's the kind of album I think that, at my age, I should be making, because it is moving me forward musically. I don't sit and listen to my old albums. I'm not interested in coasting. It's frustrating when you don't get played on the radio, because you have to work much harder to promote your record, but it's worth it. We don't get the platinum records and the chart position anymore, but it's not about that. The world is different, and so are we.

A lot of people were surprised to see your name in the lineup for the iHeartRadio Festival -- the giant Top 40 concert in September in Las Vegas that also featured Katy Perry, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and Ke$ha.
I'm doing anything I can to promote the record because I'm so proud of it. It's all hands on deck. And that one in Las Vegas also had Paul McCartney on it, so we're the oldest two on that bill by a mile. We add a little bit of gravitas to the show. And I love to mingle with the younger artists -- I was dying to meet Macklemore & Ryan Lewis because I love that record, and to see Drake again.

You've also got dates through October doing The Million Dollar Piano at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, based on your career arc and life odyssey. In it you sing "Empty Garden," your forlorn tribute to John Lennon. Is that hard some nights?
For two years John was a big part of my life, and it is difficult. I don't look back when I'm playing that song -- if I see footage of John, I get choked up and it's too hard to get through the song. I miss him so much. He was a force of nature, and you don't get many of those. And you sure as hell miss them when they leave.  

news pic
Elton John - The Diving Board (Capitol Records/Universal) - John reteams with rootsy producer T Bone Burnett, trading Vegas-size pomp for spartan simplicity. It's slightly overlong and noodly in spots, but the easy melody of "Oscar Wilde Gets Out" and the rugged piano amble "Can't Stay Alone Tonight" stretch even further than the vistas depicted in Bernie Taupin's road-trippy lyrics. B+   - Kyle Anderson

 Moondance Shines Brighter

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Van Morrison's classic is revisited with a five-disc Deluxe Edition loaded with
unreleased tracks from the sessions, including the lost track "I Shall Sing"

By 1888 Media

Van Morrison
Moondance - Deluxe, Expanded & Standard Editions
ROCK (Warner Bros.)

Van Morrisonn the fall of 1969, Van Morrison entered the studio to record Moondance, the album that would soon become his commercial breakthrough and one of the most beloved recordings of all time. Fans will soon have the rare opportunity to experience this classic album like never before with the newly remastered and expanded version featuring 50 unreleased tracks including studio outtakes of favorites like "Caravan," "Moondance" and "Into The Mystic," plus multiple takes and a final mix of the unheard track "I Shall Sing."

Three different physical versions of Moondance will be available from Warner Bros. Records on October 22. Digital versions will also be available.

Deluxe Edition - 4 CDs/1 Blu-Ray Audio

  • Newly remastered version of the original album
  • Three discs of previously unreleased music from the sessions
  • Blu-Ray Audio disc with high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound audio of original album (no video)
  • Presented in a linen-wrapped folio
  • Includes a booklet with liner notes from Alan Light and original engineer Elliot Scheiner
  • Retail price, $69.98

Expanded Edition - 2 CDs

  • Newly remastered version of the original album
  • 11 previously unreleased tracks (highlights from the Deluxe Edition)
  • Retail price, $24.98

Standard Edition - 1 CD

  • Newly remastered version of the original album
  • Retail price, $11.98

The Deluxe Edition unearths an amazing trove of unreleased gems that take the listener right alongside Morrison and his band in studio. There are multiple, often lengthy, takes from the recording sessions of nearly every track found on the 1970 original, including "Glad Tidings," "Brand New Day" and "Come Running." There are also early takes of "I've Been Working," a song that would appear later that year on His Band And The Street Choir. The early version included here is quite different from the official album version. The Deluxe Edition also includes a Blu-Ray audio disc with high-resolution stereo and surround mixes of the original album, mixed by original engineer Elliot Scheiner, who also oversaw the new re-mastering of the album.

One of the most significant revelations is "I Shall Sing," a Morrison original that was completed but left off the album. There are multiple takes of the song (spread across six tracks), plus a final mix of the finished song. While no one has heard Morrison's version, Art Garfunkel had a Top 40 hit with the song, which appeared on his 1973 solo debut.

Following its release by Warner Bros. in February 1970, Moondance would later be certified triple platinum by the RIAA, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (1999) and named #65 on the list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" published by Rolling Stone (2003).

'Moondance - Deluxe Edition' - Van MorrisonMOONDANCE: DELUXE EDITION
Track Listing

Disc One - Original Album Remastered
1. "And It Stoned Me"
2. "Moondance"
3. "Crazy Love"
4. "Caravan"
5. "Into The Mystic"
6. "Come Running"
7. "These Dreams Of You"
8. "Brand New Day"
9. "Everyone"
10. "Glad Tidings"

Disc Two - All Previously Unreleased
1. "What do we call this Van?"
2. "Caravan" (Take 1)
3. "Caravan" (Takes 2-3)
4. "Caravan" (Take 4)
5. "Caravan" (Takes 5-6)
6. "Caravan" (Take 7)
7. "Caravan" (Take 8)
8. "I've Been Working" (Early Version Take 1)
9. "I've Been Working" (Early Version Take 2)
10. "I've Been Working" (Early Version Take 5)
11. "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" (Outtake)
12. "I Shall Sing" (Take 1)
13. "I Shall Sing" (Takes 2-3)
14. "I Shall Sing" (Takes 4-6)
15. "I Shall Sing" (Take 7)
16. "I Shall Sing" (Takes 8-12)
17. "I Shall Sing" (Take 13)

Disc Three - All Previously Unreleased
1. "Into The Mystic" (Take 10)
2. "Into The Mystic" (Take 11)
3. "Into The Mystic" (Takes 12-13)
4. "Into The Mystic" (Takes 14-16)
5. "Into The Mystic" (Take 17)
6. "Brand New Day" (Take 1)
7. "Brand New Day" (Take 2)
8. "Brand New Day" (Take 3)
9. "Brand New Day" (Take 4)
10. "Brand New Day" (Takes 5-6)
11. "Brand New Day" (Take 7)
12. "Glad Tidings (Take 1)
13. "Glad Tidings (Takes 2-4)
14. "Glad Tidings (Takes 7-8)
15. "Glad Tidings (Take 9)
16. "Caravan Redo" (Takes 1-2)
17. "Caravan Redo" (Take 3)

Disc Four - All Previously Unreleased
1. "Come Running" (Take 1)
2. "Come Running" (Take 2)
3. "Come Running" (Takes 3-4)
4. "Come Running" (Take 5)
5. "Come Running" ("Rolling On 4")
6. "Moondance" (Take 21)
7. "Moondance" (Take 22)
8. "Glad Tidings" (Alt. Version)
9. "These Dreams Of You" (Alt Version)
10. "Crazy Love" (Remix)
11. "Glad Tidings" (Remix 1)
12. "Glad Tidings" (Remix 2)
13. "Glad Tidings" (Remix 3)
14. "Caravan" (Remix)
15. "These Dreams Of You" (Remix)
16. "I Shall Sing" (Mix)

Disc Five - Blu-Ray Audio disc with high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound audio of original album (no video)

Track Listing

Disc One - Original Album Remastered

Disc Two - All Previously Unreleased
1. "Caravan" (Take 4)
2. "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" (Outtake)
3. "Into The Mystic" (Take 11)
4. "Brand New Day" (Take 3)
5. "Glad Tidings" (Alt. Version)
6. "Come Running" (Take 2)
7. "Crazy Love" (Mono Mix)
8. "These Dreams Of You" (Alt. Version)
9. "Moondance" (Take 22)
10. "I Shall Sing" (Take 7)
11. "I've Been Working" (Early Version, Take 5)

Van Morrison - "Into The Mystic" (Unreleased Version)


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