14 January 2020

Taupin

It's funny how the internet can take you along unexpected diversions. I guess that this is what has sometimes been described as net surfing.

Anyway, yesterday I found myself digging into the life of Elton John's lyricist - Bernie Taupin. Nowadays, at the age of 69,  he lives in California with his tall American wife and their two young daughters - but he was born and grew up in Lincolnshire, England.

Owmby-by-Spital parish church in April 2015
I discovered that his father took over a rundown farm in the village of Owmby-by Spital, ten miles north of the city of Lincoln,  and that is where young Bernie spent his formative years. It sounds like he was a bit of layabout at school - a lazy boy who was rather lost. I imagine he spent a lot of time listening to pop music on the radio in his little bedroom in the modest bungalow his father built close to the farm on Church Lane.

Young Taupin mooched around, went to village dances and discos and often ended up playing pool in "The Aston Arms" in Market Rasen which is where his old secondary school is located. His life seemed to be going nowhere until he answered an ad in "The New Musical Express". The ad was seeking songwriters. 

Elton John who was then just plain Reginald Dwight responded to the same ad and then some time in 1967 the pair of them met up in London. I believe their first dual composition was a song called "Scarecrow". 

It is said that Bernie wrote the words and Elton then wrote the music that made the words come alive. It was a strange kind of alchemy. Neither of them have been particularly forthcoming about the process but obviously it worked brilliantly for fifty years. Bernie shunned the limelight as Elton gloried in it.

Back in April 2015 I parked my car in Owmby-by-Spital and walked along Church Lane, totally unware that this was where Bernie Taupin grew up. Amongst very many song lyrics, he wrote this:-
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world
Bernie Taupin's childhood home in Owmby-by-Spital (Google Streetview)

33 comments:

  1. Very familiar lyrics. Ah, the golden age of music, as far as I'm concerned - the 60s and 70s, that is :)

    Owmby-by-Spital is quite a mouthful - how does that sound phonetically? Do you drop any parts of it, as is done with "Worcestershire"?

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    1. No parts are dropped. It is pronounced just as it is spelt. I imagine that local people simply refer to the village as Owmby.

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    2. it was land that belonged to the Knights Hospitaller theres quite a lot of places surrounding Lincoln with that connection , nearest i think is Spital in the Street just up the A15 at Caenby Corner

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    3. Thank you Kate. The name "Spital" is derived from "Hospital". I understand that long ago there was a indeed a hospital there though the meaning of the word may have changed with the passing centuries.

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  2. I like Elton John and the songs he sings. They've been an awesome duo.

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    Replies
    1. Much, much longer than Lennon and McCartney.

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  3. So, you fell down the internet rabbit hole! I've taken that trip a few times. I can understand your interest in Bernie Taupin. He and Elton are responsible for an amazing selection of music. I enjoyed reading about his background here and how he and Elton met one another. As they say, the rest is history.

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    Replies
    1. That is a good way of putting it - a rabbit hole - as in Alice in Wonderland.

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  4. The partnership between Taupin and Elton has been a partnership made in heaven. What a brilliant songwriter Bernie Taupin is. The two were meant to be.

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  5. I didn't know any of this, but now, if questions about Elton John Bernie Taupin come up in the next pub quiz, I'll be the one to get that point for our team!

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    Replies
    1. Where did Bernie Taupin grow up?
      What was Elton John's birth name?
      In which Lincolnshire market town will you find "The Aston Arms"?

      These questions are bound to come up.

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  6. Prolific? The Dixie Dean of song writing. You fell down a very interesting rabbit hole YP.

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    1. As a Hull City supporter I would prefer to say the Chris Chilton of songwriting.

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    2. Did he score sixty goals in a season too? Bernie wrote lots of songs for famous people and groups even Heart who I once saw on my travels in Birmingham.

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    3. Chris Chilton scored 222 goals for The Tigers. Not quite as prolific as William Ralph Dean but he was playing for Hull!

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  7. TTo be honest I'd never heard of Bernie Taupin. I've heard of Elton John (and even knew he was Reg Dwight) but his songs have passed me by.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry I didn't post about Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich. You would probably have preferred such a blogpost.

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    2. Well I'd have learned that he had a 'middle' name.

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  8. It's nice if you can find that particular niche in life that gives you fulfillment isn't it. Tom Grandson has found his in music and my youngest son has found his in nursing.
    I have only ever been to Lincoln once for our eldest son's passing out parade when he was in the RAF. Looked like a lovely place, we managed to find time to visit the Cathedral and had to head back home.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world for many years. It is magical when one's work is also one's pleasure.

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  9. Owmby is just up the road from my village.

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    1. It is a shame that Bernie Taupin departed a long time ago. You could have invited him over for tea.

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  10. Everybody comes from somewhere, don't we?
    I will absolutely admit that Elton and Bernie are one of the most amazing songwriting teams the world has probably ever known. I mean- truly.
    But for whatever reason, the music never truly resonated with me. But it surely has with millions of others. I respect and admire that tremendously.

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    Replies
    1. My relationship with their music is rather like yours but "Tumbleweed Connection" was special - back in the early days before all the razzmatazz happened.

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  11. I think I had all their LPs in my collection when I was younger. I used to love singing along with my hairbrush as the mic.

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    Replies
    1. Was the hairbrush plugged in to an amp?

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  12. Genius is a strange, alchemic thing. They were so brilliant together, kind of like Lennon and McCartney. It's a matter of balance, I suppose.

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    1. Balance and timing I think. The circumstances are probably vital.

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