26. Bernie Taupin - Taupin
My favorite cultural point of reference, and the thing I look forward to every week is The Best Show on WFMU. For those of you who are sadly missing out, WFMU is a free-form radio station in Jersey City, NJ, and The Best Show is a 3 hour radio program every Tuesday night from 9-midnight, hosted by Tom Scharpling. On this show, Tom plays some amazing records, then just chats with us, the listener. He accepts calls, has conversations with some, steamrolls the chumps, and nearly every episode, Jon Wurster will call in a a character from their fictional city of Newbridge, NJ, and do a long form comedy piece. That’s the show in a nutshell. What’s so great about this show is that once you are hooked in, you’re in for a crazy ride. If you’re not into it, it might be torture, with inside jokes thrown at you left and right, all the sudden a puppet squirrel shows up (this is radio, mind you), and you’ll be asking yourself, “Spike can’t be real, right?” My theory is that you need to listen to 3 full episodes (9 hours) of the show to sort of get it. It sounds like a big commitment to give to a show, but in most cases, isn’t it worth it to spend time with something in great detail? This community has turned me onto some great music, hysterical comedians, and some amazing, generous people. It’s this community around this piece of culture that brings me back each and every week.
My favorite Scharpling and Wurster sketch is when Bernie Taupin calls into the show, to talk about his prior solo albums, and his new musical projects, MickNickPickNickMick, and Bernie Taupin’s Music Tarp. The ultimate moment of the call that will leave you gasping for air, is when “Bernie Taupin” starts singing classic Elton John songs, the way they should have been played in his opinion. Wurster then shouts the chorus to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” while he hits a drum tom over and over. The first time I listened to this, I was editing videos at my old summer job. I literally had to cover my mouth, and hold back tears as I sat and listened to this insanity coming out of my headphones. I had been listening for over 6 months at that point, catching up on some old and classic episodes, but that was the moment where I realized that I would fall off the cliff with them, prepared for whatever they had next.
A few months later I was buying some new cymbals for my drums off of a guy on Craigslist. I drove into North New Jersey and met this guy, who pulled the cymbals out of his van, which also had a few crates of records inside. He said he made his living off of buying storage lockers, yes similar to Storage Wars. I paid him for the cymbals, gave him a few extra bucks, and asked if I could take a look at the records inside. He said I could take five, one for each dollar I gave him. Pretty early on I found this record, the infamous first solo album by Bernie Taupin, that features “Child,” the entire first side of the album, where Taupin recounts his childhood with poetry over tabla drums. Yes, it is as bad as described. I soon left not believing what gem I had found. Needless to say, this album is not something I pull out to listen to, but anyone who thumbs through this and understands is immediately a friend of mine.