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Tangled Up in Blue Jean Baby: Elton John explains to Bob Dylan how he wrote "Tiny Dancer"

Written by on October 14, 2019

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Randy Holmes/ABC; William ClaxtonWho knew Bob Dylan was an Elton John fan? In a new article in the U.K. paper The Guardian, Elton answers questions about his life and music submitted by a wide variety of celebrities, including Dylan.

Dylan’s question was about Elton’s classic 1971 song “Tiny Dancer.” He asked, “Did you work your way up to the cathartic chorus gradually, spontaneously, or did you have it thought out from the start?”

“‘Tiny Dancer’ has a really long lyric, a very cinematic, California-in-the-early-’70s lyric, so it had two verses and a [bridge] before it even gets to the chorus, and it lent itself to a long buildup,” Elton explains.

“The [bridge] sets it up well, then it slows down for a moment — ‘when I say softly, slowly…’ That line suggested a big chorus.”

Elton admits that he doesn’t “remember much about writing” the music, although he does recall “trying to make it sound as Californian as possible.”

He then compares writing a song like “Tiny Dancer” to, um, pleasuring yourself.

“You want the climax to be good, but you don’t want it to be over too quickly,” Elton explains. “You want to work your way up to it.”

He adds, “Bernie [Taupin‘s] lyric took such a long time to get to the chorus, I thought, ‘F***, the chorus had better be something special when it finally arrives.’ And it’s ‘here I come,’ literally.”

Among the other celebs whose questions Elton answers: Lenny Kravitz, Ed Sheeran, Eminem, Victoria Beckham, Sam Smith, tennis legend Billie Jean King, Donatella Versace, Tilda Swinton, Kristen Scott Thomas, Cara Delevingne and Billie Eilish.

John’s official memoir, Me, is out tomorrow.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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