One would think that Elton John, the legendary musician, master composer, and flamboyant personality that he is, finds himself constantly swatting away offers to collaborate on other artist’s work. But evidently, he doesn’t get that many calls, as he groused to fellow rock icon Dave Grohl when both were set to appear on comedian Chelsea Handler’s talk show Chelsea Lately.
“Nobody really asks me to do stuff, they think I’ll say no,” John carped. Grohl, who was then working with his buddy Josh Homme and his band of desert rock troubadours Queens of the Stone Age, seized the opportunity and invited John to a session that would appear on the band’s sixth studio album, 2013’s …Like Clockwork.
Perhaps not reading the room very well, John asked Grohl and Homme, two figures not exactly known for their soft and reflective music, whether they had material more suited to the Rocket Man’s particular set of skills. “I remember [Elton] walking in and him being, like, ‘Have you got a ballad for me?'” Grohl told Handler. “And we were just like, ‘No, we do not have a ballad for you.'”
“He came in and we tracked a rock song live together, which was a wonderful experience,” Homme explained in a contemporary interview with BBC 5 Live. “That is what collaboration is all about, learning something from someone else and about someone else and maybe reminding them of something they enjoy too. To experience that with Elton was wonderful. There are piano-based, mellower songs on our record but that’s not really the point. It’s about strange chemistry and doing what you’re not supposed to do.”
In a somewhat unlikely coincidence, easy listening balladeer Engelbert Humperdinck was recording at the same time and brought John in to duet on the tune ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’. The whiplash-inducing musical dissonance that John experienced that day was described by him as “a bit of a mind-fuck”.
Experience the mind-fuck for yourself with both of those collaborations down below. And take note kids: if you want Elton John on your next song, all you have to do is ask.