Jerry Cantrell Remembers Asking Elton John If He Butchered One Of His Songs


Jerry Cantrell gave an interview to Classic Rock in which he remembered the time when he asked Elton John if he butchered one of the musician’s songs.

Jerry Cantrell and Elton John have been close friends for a long time. They stated several times that they admire each other’s work, and according to Cantrell, Elton John is the main reason he wanted to become a musician. So, due to their level of friendship, joining Alice In Chains to record ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ was an offer John can’t refuse.

The song ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ appeared in Alice In Chains’ eponymous album which was released on September 19, 2009. The band released the record on the 17th anniversary of their ‘Dirt,’ and the song was a tribute to Layne Staley, who passed away back in 2002. Written by Jerry Cantrell, ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’ also features Elton John on piano.

Also a successful solo musician, Jerry Cantrell released his third solo album ‘Brighten’ on October 29, 2021. The album marks Cantrell’s first solo album in 19 years after his ‘Degradation Trip, Volumes 1 & 2’ record, and is released following the first three singles. Among the other songs, ‘Brighten’ also features a cover of Elton John’s ‘Goodbye’ as the last track.

In the interview by Classic Rock, Jerry Cantrell shared his thoughts on his latest solo album ‘Brighten.’ During the conversation, Cantrell talked about his friendship with Elton John and working with him on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue.’ He then recalled the time he decided to include his cover of ‘Goodbye’ in the album.

Cantrell said that he closed the show with ‘Goodbye’ during the live shows in LA which took place in December 2019. Following that, he said his co-producer Tyler Bates suggested he write a song like ‘Goodbye,’ and they ended up recording the original song instead. Cantrell then revealed he later called Elton to share the demo with him and not to let him think he butchered his song.

Jerry Cantrell told Classic Rock the following:

“One of the things doing this that I’ve enjoyed the most is meeting a lot of my heroes and becoming friends with a good deal of them, and Elton is one of those. He played piano on a really important song and an important record for us when we decided to start over on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue,’ which I’d had written for Layne. He loved it, and he wanted to be a part of it, and he played on it.

I did a couple of live shows in LA, December 2019, and we closed the show with ‘Goodbye’ both nights. Tyler Bates, my co-producer on this record, was like: ‘We should write a song that’s like that, that’s not really guitar-based, more keys and strings where your voice is like that.’ As we got toward the end of the record, we thought: ‘Let’s just record that song, it makes sense.'”

He continued:

“So we demoed it, and I called Elton up, sent it over to them, and was like: ‘Hey, I want to put this on the record, it would mean a lot to me, and I just want to make sure you’re cool with it, that you don’t think I butchered your fucking song!’ And Elton said: ‘It’s beautiful, you should absolutely use it.’

The universe gives you some science here and there, serendipity and shit lining up. I didn’t intend it, but it was the last song we recorded. And it’s also the last song on my favorite Elton John record, ‘Madman Across The Water.’ That’s a nine-song record, and so is this. I didn’t intend any of that, it just happened to be that way. It made sense.”

You can listen to Jerry Cantrell’s rendition of ‘Goodbye’ below.