What follows is heavily-excerpted from a long, detailed interview with Pete Sinfield by Liv G Whetmore in Impressions:. Thanks, Liv, for giving us permission to use this excerpt. Visit the Impressions website for more information.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin have an unusual working relationship in that Bernie writes the lyric first and then Elton writes the music around the lyric. Would you find this difficult and do you prefer to have the music when you write the lyric?
That's a very good question! Lucky old Bernie, is what I'd say! I don't know how he does it, he writes these things and then Elton somehow fits them in. Now I have done this, in fact, with Epitaph. This was written as a verse and the music was put to that. But it's unusual. Generally I get very involved with the music, if I can. Not so much with Keith (Emerson), because I wasn't allowed to much (smiles!). With Greg I was more involved and there was some of me in the music and some of him in the lyrics, with it going backwards and forwards. With Keith, the music was presented and I had to find reasons to make the song work.
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, who is a very good friend of mine, lived next door to me when I used to have my big house in the country. So one time when he was making his first solo album, he asked me for some lyrics and I gave him nine, of which he used five. It was an album called No More Fear of Flying, produced by George Martin. So I wrote these lyrics around what I thought was going to be a rock'n'roll song and what was going to be a ballad. And it is most peculiar, because what I thought was going to be a rock'n'roll song turned out to be a ballad and what I thought was going to be the ballad, turned out to be something else. And it was unusual although, in some ways, it was a much easier thing to do.
But generally I get involved with the music right from the beginning. At the moment, oddly enough, I've just finished a song where all the music is written, except there is a big gap in the middle which I have an idea for. But it's very good that it goes backwards and forwards, the old fashioned way where I lean on the piano and the composer plays and I say 'Oh, I've got a line here and what about this and that changes the mood'.
Thanks to António Alfaiate for sending this to BtP.