Elton John: My Life in 20 Songs

Cameron Crowe explores Elton's journey from Reginald Dwight to technicolored pop sensation to rehab and back
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"Gone to Shiloh" (with Leon Russell)

The Union, 2010

The album before this, The Captain & the Kid, was the lost gem of my life. It was telling the continuing story of us, Bernie and Elton, now. I cared so deeply about it, because it was so personal and such a really good record. I was so furious with Interscope Records because they put it out and they dropped it. I had meetings in the South of France, and I said, "I know this isn't a commercial album, I just want you to do your best," and they dropped it like a fucking turd. It's probably why I didn't make another solo record. It was pure heartbreak.

I was so disillusioned. If it hadn't been for Leon Russell, I wouldn't have gone back into the studio – a chance call to Leon, just to see how he was doing and to thank him for all he did for me as a young artist, turned into one of the greatest experiences of my life. "Gone to Shiloh" is a song that feels like a movie – it was a pivotal moment for the record I did with Leon, The Union, and a pivotal moment for us as writers.

When I heard the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss record Raising Sand, I noticed T Bone Burnett again. I'd heard all the Elvis Costello records he'd produced and I loved them, but Raising Sand was such a simple record, and it made me want to work with him. When the Leon thing came up, he was the first person I thought of, and we started this relationship, which has gotten so strong that I can't really see me recording with anybody else. It's the beginning of a new beginning.

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