On a new episode of Elton John’s Rocket Hour on Apple Music 1, Elton sits down with his husband and Canadian-native David Furnish for a Canada Special. The two talk about Canada’s incredible depth of talent, from Leonard Cohen to Joni Mitchell, k.d. lang, Ruth B and more.
Elton John and David Furnish on “Everybody Knows” and Leonard Cohen being the greatest lyricist ever
Elton John: 'Leonard Cohen is Canadian, was Canadian. I've always loved Leonard Cohen right from the word go. 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 lyric writer ever. I know a lot of people would say, "No, Bob Dylan." But I don't know, something about Cohen and Joni Mitchell, who's also a Canadian, that all three of them are just amazing lyric writers. This song [“Everybody Knows”], you chose. Why did you choose this song?'
David Furnish: 'To me, it's just quintessential Leonard Cohen, his vocal style, the deep, deep voice, the amazing lyrics. You and I had the honor of seeing him on his last tour, his final tour, down in the South of France. The man's talent and his originality is just staggering.'
Elton John: 'It was like a religious experience. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.'
Elton John and David Furnish on getting to know Joni Mitchell and her masterpiece album ‘Blue'
Elton John: 'Joni Mitchell. Well, what can we say about Joni Mitchell? We've had the privilege, both you and I, to get to know Joni over the last two years, go to her house, have sing songs. She came to our screening. We went to the concert that Brandi Carlile did of ‘Blue.’ We've seen a lot of her in her recovery because she had a horrible aneurysm. It's taken her a long haul of rehabilitation. Now she's singing and painting again. Probably one of the nicest things in the last two years of our life has been spending time with her, right?'
David Furnish: 'Amazing and a real testament to her spirit as a human being that she recovered. She was not expected to recover. It's music and it's the sing songs and everyone coming around to her house that's brought her back to life.'
Elton John: She is certainly one of the most magical people I've ever met and certainly probably one of the most talented people I've ever met. The concert we went to see at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles that Brandi Carlile sang the whole of ‘Blue,‘ which is probably one of the best albums ever, 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.” It's about the child that Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption in 1965. The whole album ‘Blue,’ if you don't know and you don't own 'Blue,' then you must get it for your record collection.'
David Furnish: 'It's a masterpiece.'
Elton John: 'It is a masterpiece.'
Elton John on Canada’s incredible depth of talent and Rush
'We put this show together quite quickly, and there's so many great Canadian artists that we left out. We're going to have to do another two shows to get them all in. It just shows you what an incredible depth of talent. In fact, we did the show, and then I laid awake 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 just went on and on. Cowboy Junkies, Tragically Hip, Ron Sexsmith, and it just went on and on and on. So there will be another Canadian show very, very soon. I think it's very important to follow it up quite quickly.'
'Right now, we're going to the most legendary Canadian band of all time, Rush. This is a song called Tom Sawyer. It's inspired obviously by Tom Twain's 1876 novel, 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.' The legendary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart passed away last year, and it was such a tragedy because I think most musicians considered him to be one of the definitive drummers in the band. Rush sold so many records and continued to do so. I want to play this track to pay tribute to them and to Neil.'
Elton John on the importance of The Band to him
Elton John: 'The Band, as anyone knows about Elton John and Bernie Taupin songwriters, The Band... When we heard 'Music from Big Pink,' it changed our life. [Chest Fever] comes from that album. God, I could've chosen so many songs from The Band, but I love this one because of Garth Hudson's incredible intro work on the organ. Were you a fan of The Band? A bit early for you.'
David Furnish: 'I wasn't into The Band. It wasn't until I was with you and you started talking about how important they were to you and Bernie and what an influence they were in your songwriting that I went back and checked it out. Of course, you and I, we see Robbie Robertson every time we're in LA for Oscar time. What an extraordinary band. I feel bad that I didn't get on them earlier.'
Elton John: 'It was before your time in a way, but their music is so timeless. '
Elton John and David Furnish on k.d. lang being one of the best singers
Elton John: 'We’re ending with one of the greatest singers of all time in my opinion, and a great friend, and a great girl, k.d. lang. Tell me about k.d. lang.
David Furnish: Oh my god, well, I think you’re right. k.d. lang has the best singing voice of any woman alive today. She sang this at an Elton John AIDS Foundation benefit for us in New York and it was about as close to a religious experience, seeing someone live as I’ve ever seen in my life. Her vocal talent on [“Hallelujah”] is unbelievable.'
Elton John: 'Definitely one of the greatest and one of the greatest songs. She’s chosen the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah” and it’s taken from her covers album ‘Hymns of the 49th Parallel’ where she just 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.'