Sometimes, the path to creating something great is unconventional and unexpected.
As a music lover, I have immense admiration and respect for Sir Elton John's work. The way he connected beautiful melodies with words that he himself did not write (you can thank his long time writing partner, Bernie Taupin, for the pictures painted with words) has always been a source of fascination. When John recently released a new greatest hits compilation, I dove back into all the familiar songs. The collection also contained some lesser known tunes, and one song stood apart from the rest.
It was originally released in 2012 by John and Australian dance music duo (now trio) Pnau, as part of the album Good Morning to the Night. The album featured eight electronic recreations from The Rocket Man's '70s catalog; for example, the lead vocals from "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and "Tonight", plus the organ riff from "Funeral for a Friend", mixed with a dash of other hits and album cuts, gives you the title track.
The story goes that John visited Virgin Records in Australia, bought Pnau's then-current album and was so impressed that he immediately wanted to sign them to his record label. In the interview that Elton John and Pnau gave in promotion for Good Morning to the Night, Elton said that he admired the younger musicians' work, especially because he himself could not have reworked with his own songs. Then, something John said stood out to me: "I don't listen to my old material... I'm not really looking back, and this was a chance for me to look back without having to do it myself."
The fact that someone as accomplished as Elton John recognizes that there is room to bring in collaborators speaks volumes about his artistic integrity. As brilliant as someone may be in creating art and delivering it to the world, another's perspective is needed to breathe new life or maximize the potential of its message. Of course, credit should also be given to Pnau for being able to reconstruct new songs from such voluminous and rich source material.
As I begin my journey in this new venture, I'm looking forward to working with so many new collaborators. As much as I can teach, I know that I'll be learning at least twice as much. Whether it's a speech that is giving you trouble or an idea that is tried and true, we should never be afraid to have someone else "remix" our content.