Trumping The Lion King soundtrack seems like an unrealistic aspiration for Sir. Elton John, composer and executive producer of Kelly Asbury’s animated feature, Gnomeo and Juliet. While effort is most certainly noted, the iconic musician scored the picture with a variety of original tracks as well as some of his legendary jams – and the original tracks we’re not exactly gems to write home about.
Regardless, we were fortunate enough to hit the press conference for this child-proof Shakespeare adaptation and hear Sir. Elton’s two cents on the 11 year extravaganza preceding the picture.
Check out the interview below…
Was original music always the plan for the film?
Sir Elton John: Originally it wasn’t gonna be all my music, but when Disney Studios really got a hold of this project and suggested that we we write new songs for it I thought it was a good idea. I’d never done that before. I enlisted the help of James Newton Howard, a famous arranger in this town, who actually used to be in my band. I had a great relationship with him. And from that point on I really handed it over to James and the rest of the team.
Rumor has it that development took roughly 11 years..
Elton John: You have to write the songs quite a long time ahead, because of story boards and placement. We actually wrote four new songs for the movie and two got left out, the story boards changed, the story evolves, and things get left by the wayside. You have to accept it when you write for a musical or animation movie.
Oddly the fiasco between the “reds” and “blues” echo recent events in American society – which has to be purely coincidental…
Elton John: If 11 years ago we had the foresight to do that I’d say we’re fucking geniuses. It just so happens to be at this time, 3 weeks after the president made a speech in Tuscon, a very poignant moment in the history of America after this tragedy happened. I do feel as though there’s a message in this film. Like, we spend so much time hating each other because our parents tell us that’s what we have to do. I grew up conservative because my mom was a conservative. once I realized what conservatives were I changed my mind immediately.
I think the story line is saying we should all get a long, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jews – Democrats/Republicans. In American it’s gotten so far stretched and the rhetoric is so dangerous and so unnecessary. If there’s any message that can come out of this film, which is purely coincidental and the timing is coincidental, then I’m all for it. Because as I grow older it saddens me to see a country I love so much having such a gulf between people sometimes, they don’t meet in the middle. In the film, at the end of this, when they destroy both gardens they say “this is enough, this is ridiculous.” That sends out a positive message.
With The Lion King and your solo career you’ve always been an advocate of collaboration..
Elton John: With The Lion King it came my way in 1993 thanks to Tim Ryans. I’ve always collaborated in my career as a song writer, I loved the idea and the journey of collaboration with everyone in The Lion King. I’m a team player Really, that’s why I like doing the musicals. I’ve always had song writing partners. Leave your ego at the door – you have to be prepared to say, ‘Ok, I’m gonna fight for this song but if you really wanna get rid of it, that’s fine’.
You’ve gotta listen to the team as a whole. So many times we convened over these 11 years and you have to be a team player…hold hands when things are going badly and hold hands when things are going well. You really have to be there for everybody else on the team. I always liked that in my career I had the good fortunate of having a long standing writing partners that I’ve been with for 4 years. It’s just another way of sharing a joyful experience. .
You did a track with Lady Gaga for the project!
Elton John: She came to the house last year, we do a ball every year to raise money for aids, she stayed at our house for three days and we mentioned the film and the song and she said she’d love to do it. She added so much of her own magic to the song and she gave it a new life. It was a duet and I was looking for someone to sing it with, and she’s one of my new best friends and I love her to death – it was nice that she was so excited to do it. That was a real plus for us.
The film hits theaters nationwide Friday, February 11!