StoryWeb: Storytime for Grownups
About This Show
StoryWeb: Storytime for Grownups features stories you’ll love to hear – fiction, memoir, poetry, film, song, oral storytelling, and more. Listen as master storyteller Linda Tate talks about literature and other stories each week – and be sure to catch those special weeks when Linda reads the stories to you. Visit TheStoryWeb.com to learn more, share your thoughts about this week’s story, and subscribe to a free weekly email highlighting the featured story.
Most Recent Episode
123: Elton John and Bernie Taupin: "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy"
2 days ago
This week on StoryWeb: Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. When I was fifteen years old, my favorite album was Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Even then, I knew it was something special, a truly unique album. Recently, I listened to the album again – for the first time in over thirty years. Wow! It still holds together. Elton John himself – among numerous other musicians, producers, and critics – believes Captain Fantastic is his best album. The ninth formal studio release album for Elton John, Captain Fantastic was the first album to debut at number one on the US Billboard 200. Rolling Stone ranks it at number 158 on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The album was recorded at Caribou Ranch outside of Nederland, Colorado – just a hop and a skip from our home in Boulder. Taken in its totality, the album tells the powerful story of the growing relationship – both musically and personally – between Captain Fantastic (Elton John) and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (Bernie Taupin). The album follows their beginnings as a songwriting duo churning out songs in the late 1960s for a pop hits mill in London. Their managers have no thought in the least that they’re working with a lyricist and composer who have the potential to hit it big themselves. For this reason, Bernie Taupin (who wrote the lyrics to the songs) and Elton John (who wrote the music) say that they were writing with “bitter fingers” (the title of the third song on the album). Also chronicled is Elton John’s narrow escape from what would have been a disastrous marriage to Linda Woodrow, who did not see the value of his music. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” also tells of Elton John’s failed 1969 suicide attempt in response to the engagement. This song was, of course, the big hit from the album, but I think it’s important to put it next to “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” which appears near the end of the album. Even as a fifteen-year-old, I thought – and still think – the song tells of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s deepening personal relationship. Elton John said in later years, “Captain Fantastic was written from start to finish in running order, as a kind of story about coming to terms with failure – or trying desperately not to be one. We lived that story." Accou