inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #51 of 85: Berliner (captward) Mon 22 Jan 07 13:46
    
And, for better or worse, the 80-word Blender review is rarely a
criticism, and makes the development of a critical voice impossible. Or
so it seems to me. And yes, the eccentrics go elsewhere, probably to
the web. 

I wanted to ask if you've ever made a discovery, by which I mean
someone nobody else had heard that reall thrilled you. I'll give you an
example from my own past. 

There was a point where none of the albums which had come out in the
two-week period that was going to press were lead-review material, and,
in desperation, I sat down with a bunch of singles -- arguably the
least hip format possible in 1970 -- that had accumulated around the
house over the past few weeks. I had them on a changer, and was sitting
reading when one blasted out of the speakers and turned me around.
Insane slide guitar, bizarre lyrics, but really controlled: the song
turned on a dime. So I wrote it up, not having any idea who these
people were, except that one song was co-written by Roy Estrada, whom I
recognized as a former Mother. 

When the issue came out, I got a call from the head of publicity at
Warner's, the label which had put this out, and he said "Are these guys
really as good as you say? If we did an album on them, would you want
to listen to a whole album? Because I don't hear them, myself, but
there are other people at the company who react just like you do, and
we cut the single as a favor to some lawyer and we're getting ready to
drop them." No, no, no, I said. Don't drop them, do an album. 

So they did, and it didn't do all that well, but well enough that they
got to do another one, with the band slightly changed around. And
that's how I discovered Little Feat. 

You ever have an experience like that? 
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #52 of 85: An egg originating from an old Oldsmobile (crow) Mon 22 Jan 07 13:50
    
What was the song?
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #53 of 85: Michael Zentner (mz) Mon 22 Jan 07 14:36
    
>>>> that's how I discovered Little Feat

Thanks for killing Lowell George!
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #54 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Mon 22 Jan 07 15:33
    


I can think of two cases where I've had that sort of influence on an
artist's career:

1. Mary Cutrufello. Good singer-songwriter who I knew from school: did
rootsy country-rock trains about trains and such. I stayed in touch with her
over the years and had brunch with her at SXSW sometime in the early '90s;
she passed me a tape. Later that day, I played it in the car as I was
driving out to a barbecue at Jimmie Dale Gilmore's house with a cool
publicist, Holly Gleason. Holly totally flipped for it, ended up managing
Mary, and got her signed to Mercury. I see Mary every now and then, but not
for quite a few years now.the last time was circa '99, when I was writing
about the Allman Brothers Band and she was their opening act.

2. In the mid-'90s, Details did a "Road Issue." The editors split into pairs
and did various road trips around the country, meeting readers and checking
out the world. EIC John Leland and I did Seattle to Los Angeles. Passing
through Portland, I picked up a local band compilation at a record store; I
think it was called I-5 Killers. One song jumped out from the unsigned
morass, by a group called Everclear. I said, "I'll keep an eye out for
them." Their debut, World of Noise, came out a year or so later, and I wrote
a short profile. "Fire Maple Song" was a marginal hit, but that profile was
by far the most prominent piece of press they got (don't know how much that
helped them, either inside the record company or out, but it sure can't have
hurt). So when their second record came out and "Santa Monica" began to
break big, Everclear were amenable to having me ride on their bus with them
in a way that they wouldn't have been with another writer. That was the
closest I ever got to the Almost Famous experience: cruising around with the
band, watching opening act No Doubt from backstage, making out with Keanu
Reeves' date at a party. I ended up writing about the group four times
overall in various formats over a few years, and their platinum record for
Sparkle and Fade is one of only two I hang on my walls.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #55 of 85: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 22 Jan 07 17:13
    
>The Tropicalia show was pretty great (if you're in NY, go catch it asap,
 because it closes this weekend); now I'd love to read a good English-
 language primer on the movement that covers both the art and the music. Any
 suggestions?

Gavin, right before christmas I purchased the Soul Jazz Tropicalia
compilation which i love and raved about over in newmusic.  In the booklet
that comes with the CD, they say:

        There are two essential books on Tropicalia:
        Brutality Garden by Christopher Dunn (Chapel Hill)
        Tropical Truth by Caetano Veloso (Bloomsbury)

They also recommend the following:

        Hello, Hello brazil by Bryan McCann (Duke)
        A Consice History of Brazil by Boris Fausto
        Brazilian Cinema by Randal Johnson and Robert Stam
        Bossa Nova by Ruy Castro

Of course, i can't vouch for any of these, but these are what S. Baker who
did the booklet recommends, fwiw.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #56 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Mon 22 Jan 07 19:03
    
Thanks!
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #57 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Tue 23 Jan 07 07:37
    
I really should have done this at the beginning of the interview, but I
forgot I had put it up online:

There's an excerpt from IS TINY DANCER REALLY ELTON'S LITTLE JOHN?: MUSIC'S
MOST ENDURING MYSTERIES, MYTHS, AND RUMORS REVEALED at my website. You can
check it out at

http://www.rulefortytwo.com/tinydancer.htm
or
<http://www.rulefortytwo.com/tinydancer.htm>
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #58 of 85: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 23 Jan 07 10:43
    

Savoring the little details in this excerpt - like

> At a live performance in 1997, Grohl got his sugary saliva all over the
> microphone, attracting the attention of a bee--for the rest of the show,
> whenever Grohl tried to sing, the bee would chase after him.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #59 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Tue 23 Jan 07 11:10
    <scribbled by lagoon Tue 23 Jan 07 11:10>
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #60 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Tue 23 Jan 07 11:11
    
Even better, if less readable, is a recent interview I did with Tina Fey--
translated into Indonesian!

http://www.rollingstone.co.id/?modul=detail&catID=7&key=157
<http://www.rollingstone.co.id/?modul=detail&catID=7&key=157>
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #61 of 85: Berliner (captward) Tue 23 Jan 07 11:16
    
Wait, there's an *Indonesian* edition now? I just spent the day with a
Malay friend who used to work on RS Australia, but at least he got to
write in English there. How many editions are there? Are they all run
out of New York (well, not day-to-day, but at the top) or are they
franchises? (I'm thinking of the British Rolling Stone fiasco of my
day, when Jann sort of franchised it out to a bunch of lunatics with
Mick Jagger's money and then had to kill it dead). 
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #62 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Tue 23 Jan 07 13:30
    
They are all franchised, and I think there's dozens of them. (The only other
English-language one I know of is the Australian edition.) Every now and
then I grab a stack of them from the office and bring them home; it's
interesting to flip through them, because some editions largely translate
the American magazine, while others pretty much leave it alone, just using
the name. (Many are in between, of course.) I'm always hugely flattered when
=anything= I write, no matter how small, is translated into a foreign
language: it just blows me away that some Frenchman (or whoever) had to pore
over my Blink-182 article, choosing just the right word to get across what I
meant.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #63 of 85: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 23 Jan 07 13:49
    

> Australian Rolling Stone

I wrote for it when I lived in Sydney back in the early '70s. I covered a
Cat Stevens tour -- Catch Bull at Four -- and traveled around the country
with the band. It made a great feature piece, I felt lucky to have been able
to do it. Especially fun was the fact that Ramblin' Jack Elliot was the
opening act for the show, and hanging out with Ramblin' Jack was ... was ...
well, he's quite a character.


  *************

But I want to back up for a second because this has been gnawing at the back
of my mind. When I first saw the title of your book I laughed because I've
long understood that "Tiny Dancer" is Patti Spaziani.

(not sure I have her name spelled right, it was the '60s for godsake)
 
Patti was an old flame of my now-husband way back around 1968 or so down in
SoCal. At some point she started making groovy rock 'n' roll clothes and she
got a name for herself in the LA rock scene. She made clothes for Rod
Stewart, for some of the Stones, for Elton John, etc. That's not a rumor,
my husband hung out with her at the time, he knows for sure.
 
Patti has always held that she's the inspiration for "Tiny Dancer." Gavin,
is that what your research tells you?
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #64 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Tue 23 Jan 07 14:36
    
I will answer that question later tonight, but I just wanted to note briefly
that Australian RS is probably most famous to Americans for being the origin
of the famous cover with Mulder and Scully in bed together--that's the only
time a cover has made it from a foreign edition to the American flagship.

(and how cool that you got to do that story! can you share one good ramblin'
jack anecdote? how did you feel seeing cat stevens change as the years went
by?)
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #65 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Wed 24 Jan 07 07:30
    
Here's what Bernie Taupin, lyricist on "Tiny Dancer," said when I asked him
about it: "We came to California in the fall of 1970, and sunshine radiated
from the populace. I was trying to capture the spirit of that time,
encapsulated by the women we met--especially at the clothes stores up and
down the Strip in L.A. They were free spirits, sexy in hip-huggers and lacy
blouses, and very ethereal, the way they moved. So different from what I'd
been used to in England. And they all wanted to sew patches on your jeans.
They'd mother you and sleep with you--it was the perfect oedipal complex."

So it sounds like Patti was certainly part of the inspiration for the song
(and maybe Bernie even told her that she inspired it!), but that she wasn't
the sole Tiny Dancer. She can still claim a nice little mark on rock
history.

(My first question in that interview with Taupin was the one the book's
title paraphrases: "What is Elton John's 'Tiny Dancer' about? My friend says
it's some kind of woman-muse, but I think he's singing to his penis."
Taupin's response, after he stopped laughing: "That's great! But I wouldn't
belittle myself so.")
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #66 of 85: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 24 Jan 07 08:52
    

Thanks for digging up your quotes from Bernie Taupin on "Tiny Dancer,"
Gavin. I remember spending time in the LA/Sunset Strip scene back in 
the late '60s and the fashion world there truly had its own special quality 
that I didn't find in San Francisco. There was something magical about the
way rock 'n' rollers and their cohort dressed down there. I can see how it 
would have knocked Taupin's socks off.   

> Ramblin' Jack anecdote

The one that springs to mind didn't happen in Australia, but a couple years
later on Maui. A bunch of us had gone out on a boat called The Flying
Cloud, owned by Merry Prankster George Walker. There were ... uh ...
psychic enhancements handed out and we all partook. 

It was a day of high winds and big waves, and the boat was wallowing badly 
in the troughs. I'd gone down below and discovered half the crew on their
knees, quaking and reciting the Lord's Prayer. 

Then I went up on deck and there was Jack at the top of the mast (which
was swaying wildly as the boat bucked in the water), one arm wrapped around  
it and the other waving free like he was riding a bull. He was grinning ear 
to ear, yelling "YAHOO!" at the top of his lungs and having the time of 
his life.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #67 of 85: Michael Zentner (mz) Wed 24 Jan 07 09:10
    
>>> encapsulated by the women we met--especially at the clothes stores
up and down the Strip in L.A.

Slash's mom was probably part of that scene. She was a clothes maker
for rock stars, in particular David Bowie I think.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #68 of 85: Berliner (captward) Wed 24 Jan 07 09:18
    
And so, I believe, was Jeannie the Tailor, who was memorialized in the
title of Jack Bruce's "Songs for a Tailor" album after her death in a
car crash that also took a member of Fairport Convention.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #69 of 85: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 24 Jan 07 10:34
    

Hmm.  Tiny dancer is not a penis.  There was another song that probably
was... what was it?  Jackson Browne - Redneck Friend.  Any argument there?


http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/jackson+browne/red+neck+friend_20068521.html
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #70 of 85: Michael Zentner (mz) Wed 24 Jan 07 10:46
    
Honey you shake and Ill rattle and well roll on down the line
Were going to forget all about the battle
Its gonna feel so fine
cause hes the missing link, the kitchen sink--
Eleven on a scale of ten
Honey let me introduce you to my redneck friend

Honey you shake and Ill rattle and well roll on down the line
Im going to try to swing you up into my saddle
And then well run but youll think were flyin
Now honey dont just stand there
Lookin like this dream will never end
Honey let me introduce you to my redneck friend
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #71 of 85: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 24 Jan 07 14:07
    

oh my...

I realize I left a question unanswered up there. Gavin, you asked:

> how did you feel seeing cat stevens change as the years went by?

I don't think Steve (he never went by "Cat," he was born Steven Georgiou)
changed all that much. I suspect the quote attributed to him during that
whole Salman Rushdie thing was either incorrect, maybe out of context, or
just one of those awful slips that came out wrong.

The man I knew was smart and funny, with a great infection laugh. He was
also pretty much of a loner. He wasn't a party animal at all and though
groupies threw themselves at him, he didn't take them up on their offers.

I'd come from a background in the San Francisco rock scene of the late '60s,
and I was used to bands that got on stage without a set list and just
started in on whatever struck their fancy at the time. Steve ran a really
tight show (we traveled with a 20-piece orchestra and a conductor across 
Australia, so musical "noodling around" was out of the question). He
wasn't rigid, but he had a lot of structure to what he did, and he was
extremely professional as a performer. 

That he embraced Islam doesn't seem like a big shift for him, IMO. It
matches the kind of quiet, structured person I knew him to be. 
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #72 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Wed 24 Jan 07 14:30
    

Interesting. From the reading I did a few years back, it seems like he felt
obligated to support the fatwa as an article of faith at the time, but
resented being asked about it by the press and later regretted having done
so.

More penis songs:
King Missile, "Detachable Penis"
Sigue Sigue Sputnike, "Love Missile F1-11"
The Who, "It's Hard
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #73 of 85: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 24 Jan 07 16:29
    

So, there are songs about penises, and "humps," and big butts, and plenty 
of breast songs (memorably "I Like Boobs A Lot" by the Fugs). Where
are the fetish songs? What about some passionate paean to feet, or elbows?
The eroticism of the backs of knees? 

I know, I'm just being silly. I've really enjoyed this conversation and I
can't believe how fast the time has gone by! Our virtual spotlight has
turned to a new guest, but that doesn't mean you have to leave, Gavin.
You're welcome to stick around and talk as long as you like. This topic
will remain open indefinitely and we'd be happy to have you stay longer.

However, if you've got to go, I want to thank you for sharing time with us. 
And big thanks to Ed Ward, too, for being our moderator. This has been 
great!
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #74 of 85: Gavin Edwards (lagoon) Wed 24 Jan 07 17:28
    
I think I've got one or two questions I never got to, so I'll make sure I
answer them (and whatever else people want to throw at me).

A huge thanks to Ed from me too--this has been a lot of fun.
  
inkwell.vue.290 : Gavin Edwards, "Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?"
permalink #75 of 85: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 24 Jan 07 21:35
    
I thought it was supposed to be about Maxine, whom Bernie ended up
marrying. and I thought the Jackson Browne penis song was Rosie.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

   Join Us
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us