- “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – 4:28
- “Dark Diamond” – 4:26
- “Look Ma, No Hands” – 4:22
- “American Triangle” – 4:49
- “Original Sin” – 4:49
- “Birds” – 3:51
- “I Want Love” – 4:35
- “The Wasteland” – 4:21
- “Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes” – 4:52
- “Love Her Like Me” – 3:58
- “Mansfield” – 4:56
- “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore” – 4:39
Songs from the West Coast is the forty-fourth album (the twenty-eighth in the studio) by the British artist Elton John, published on 1 October 2001.
It is dedicated to Matthew Shepard, a boy murdered in Wyoming because of his sexual preferences, and to little Oliver Johnstone (son of Davey Johnstone), drowned in the pool of his house. At the time of publication of this record, Elton’s activity was not as well seen as it once was; in fact, the many soundtracks composed during the nineties, the unlikely duets contained in One Night Only (2000) and the unsuitable production of Chris Thomas, devoted to excessive use of electronics (perfectly notable in albums like The One and The Big Picture), had long ago alienated to rockstar the favors of critics and hardcore fans, also because of the distribution of the single Candle in the Wind 1997. It was therefore necessary an album that, inspired by the glorious Seventies, definitively reconfirmed Elton’s musical and artistic abilities, not at all set and indeed already expressed in the convincing The Road to Eldorado Soundtrack (2000). In order to achieve this goal, the historic drummer Nigel Olsson was also recalled (who contributed not a little to the classical sound of the Eltonian albums of the golden age); the orchestral arrangements are also the work of Paul Buckmaster, who had contributed his contribution to albums such as Elton John (1970), Tumbleweed Connection (1970) and Madman Across the Water (1971). The Heartbreaker album by Ryan Adams was also a source of inspiration. Elton expressed himself this way: “We did not want to go back to the past, but to create a different simplicity than the last records, a simplicity that was based on the piano, which is present in recent but not so massive records. recorded in analogic, songs with a simple structure: so we started, then, as the result was satisfactory, we continued.We got into the studio with 20 songs, we recorded 18, sharpening the critical sense a lot last year Bernie Taupin He joined me in my house in Nice and there we agreed that the best thing would be to make an album of music and simplicity, inspired by some shows for solo piano, like that of Lucca, two years ago. years more piano and less synthesizers, I have satisfied them, so the sound goes back to the seventies, somehow, but I do not live in the past I do not listen to my old records, I do not listen lti the old records of others. I let myself be influenced by new artists. My spiritual guide for the new album was Ryan Adams with his album released last year, “Heartbreaker”. Reading the cover notes, I found out that he had been registered in Nashville in two weeks and I thought, “I used to do that once. I could do it again. ” I wanted to meet Ryan, and he’s the first person I have to thank for reminding me the best of me. It is paradoxical, but the new artists of the present inspire me to return to my past. I love technology, but sometimes it distracts you and leads you astray. When you leave the piano for the synthesizer, you have to be careful not to derail, because then back on track is tough. I will remain faithful to the old piano “.
From an artistic point of view, the result achieved was remarkable: the critics warmly welcomed Songs from the West Coast, considering it one of the best albums ever recorded by Elton, if not the best. The convincing 1970s-style piano atmosphere, very well produced by Patrick Leonard, perfectly matched with the texts of Bernie Taupin, who, as already experimented in The One, Made in England and The Big Picture, had become more intimist, reflective and more sensitive to the issues dealt with (just think of American Triangle). Elton declared: “I identify myself in almost all the songs of the new album, it’s true, starting with the first single” I Want Love “, which today does not belong to me anymore, but which seems to be drawn on the skin of the man I was ten or eleven years ago, before detoxing me, I was desperate, I wanted a serious relationship, but at the same time I refused it, concentrating on minor stories, I was afraid of it, as I said in a verse, “I was a man who felt dead in places where other men felt freed, “I despised clean and normal love but I feared to suffer another burn if I remained on the” wild side “of life.The only song I do not feel completely mine is” Mansfield “, which It tells about the place where Bernie and his wife met ten years ago, but she knew it well, so it’s like I wrote it … Bernie gave me 70 lyrics, I played the music that I wanted to write myself. contented, this time, of texts oblique and obscure, I wanted to be passionate and passionate, with a red thread of determination that goes through all the work. There is a sense, on the way. The first song is “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, where it tells about me and Bernie at the beginning, when we bet on our lives and horses and we lived as if the night did not end; the album closes with the end of the last wedding of Bernie” Songs from the West Coast also had a good success among the general public, reaching number 2 at home and number 15 in the United States (in Italy it ranked third in the standings.) Three singles were drawn: I Want Love (nominated on Grammy), This Train Do not Stop There Anymore and Original Sin.
Also famous is the cover of the album, which opens, which shows a disoriented Elton in a restaurant on the west coast of the United States (the title of the CD in fact means Canzoni (Coming) From the West Coast), the famous Rae’s Restaurant in Los Angeles ( where the film A Life at its best was also shot, in 2005, also a scene of Lords of Dogtown will take place in the club). In the cover, you can see David Furnish (rockstar’s partner and future husband) and Bob Halley (a member of the Elton company).
In 2002 a special edition of Songs from the West Coast was released, containing a bonus CD.