6 Songs You Didn’t Know Bernie Taupin Wrote for Other Artists, Outside of Elton John

Theirs was a classic songwriting “love affair” from the start in 1967. Just like the many songwriting maestro pairings of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who penned Elvis Presley hit songs, including “Jailhouse Rock” and Big Momma Thornton’s “Hound Dog,” Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me,” and more, or Gerry Goffin and Carole King, who wrote a majority of her songbook, Bernie Taupin was the Ira to Elton John’s George Gershwin.

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Taupin predominantly wrote the words, while John added the musical compositions throughout the pair’s more than 50-year working relationship, which started after the two answered the same Liberty Records ad for new songwriters in the music newspaper, New Musical Express, in 1967. Both immediately began writing together, eventually piecing together John’s 1969 debut Empty Sky, and have worked together ever since. John and Taupin were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992.

Writing with John on his biggest hits—everything from “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” “Candle in the Wind,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” and all in between—Taupin has also written lyrics for a number of other artists, including Brian Wilson, Heart, Alice Cooper, and more.

Here are half a dozen songs that John’s song master, Taupin, has written for other artists.

1. “How You Gonna See Me Know,” Alice Cooper (1978)
Written by Bernie Taupin and Alice Cooper

The entirety of Alice Cooper’s fourth solo album, From the Inside, was co-written with Taupin and music arranged by Cooper and Dick Wagner. More of a concept album, From the Inside was Cooper’s retelling of the time he checked himself into an asylum (Cornell Medical Centre in White Plains, New York) to battle his alcoholism. Each song on the album, produced by David Foster, tells the story of a person Cooper met inside the sanitarium, or someone in his life, like the piano ballad “How You Gonna See Me Know,” which he wrote for his wife of Sheryl Goddard, who he married a few years earlier in 1976.

“I wasn’t a drunk-drunk,” said Cooper, elaborating on the meaning of the song. “I was never falling down. Nobody had to carry me home. I was always on this golden buzz, kinda Dean Martin, but she had never once saw me when I was totally sober.”

Despite the success of the song, which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, Cooper has never performed it live since 1980. The video depicted Cooper in a recreated asylum cell setting, seen penning the lyrics of the song to his wife on paper. Aside from Taupin, the album also features other Elton John collaborators bassist Dee Murray and guitarist Davey Johnstone.

Dear darlin’ surprised to hear from me?
Bet you’re sittin’ drinkin’ coffee, yawnin’ sleepily
Just to let you know
I’m gonna be home soon
I’m kinda awkward and afraid
Time has changed your point of view

2.“We Built This City,” Starship (1985)
Written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf

Off Starship’s debut album, Knee Deep in the Hoopla, the anthemic “We Built This City” made everyone stand up and rise up—for rock and roll. A call out to corporate entities that were closing down rock venues, the song shot to No. 1 on the Hot 100 and peaked on the Top 10 charts worldwide.

Someone’s always playing corporation games
Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page

Though the song, written by Taupin and former Q-Feel member Martin Page, was originally written about Los Angeles, Starship’s version references their hometown of San Francisco—I’m looking out over that Golden Gate bridge.

3. “These Dreams,” Heart (1985)
Written by Bernie Taupin and Martin Page

Originally written for Stevie Nicks, who had no interest in the song, Heart, who had just signed to Capitol Records nearly passed on “These Dreams” but decided to use the song on their eighth self-titled album, released in 1985. A departure from Heart’s harder rock, the more produced power ballad was the first single to feature Nancy Wilson on lead vocals instead of sister Ann and the band’s first song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Nancy Wilson dedicated the song to her friend Sharon Hess, who died from leukemia before its release. Lyrically, the song follows the dream-like world of a woman facing hardships in her waking life.  

Darkness on the edge
Shadows where I stand
I search for the time
On a watch with no hands
I want to see you clearly
Come closer than this
But all I remember
Are the dreams in the mist

4. “The Rumour,” Olivia Newton-John, featuring Elton John (1988)
Written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John

Recorded by Olivia Newton-John on her 13th album of the same name, “The Rumour” was written by Taupin and his other (writing) half, Elton John. Released as the lead single, the song also includes John on backing vocals and piano.

5. “A Love That Will Never Grow Old,” Emmylou Harris (2005)
Written by Bernie Taupin

In 2006, Taupin won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for “A Love That Will Never Grow Old,” featured in the 2005 drama Brokeback Mountain, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Composed by Argentine producer Gustavo Santaolalla, the song was performed by Emmylou Harris.

When you wake up the world may have changed
But trust in me, I’ll never falter or fail
Just the smile in your eyes, it can light up the night
And your laughter’s like wind in my sails

Lean on me, let our hearts beat in time
Feel strength from the hands that have held you so long
Who cares where we go on this rutted old road
In a world that may say that we’re wrong

6. “What I Really Want For Christmas,” Brian Wilson (2005)
Written by Bernie Taupin and Brian Wilson

Taupin co-wrote the title track to What I Really Want For Christmas with Brian Wilson for his first-ever seasonal album. A mix of traditional holiday classics and a few Beach Boys remakes like “Little Saint Nick” and “The Man with All the Toys,” the album had several original songs, including the Wilson-penned “On Christmas Day,” “Christmasey,” written by Wilson and Jimmy Webb, and “What I Really Want For Christmas,” co-written with Taupin.

The dying embers glow, we watch the falling snow
Lucky to be home, when some are all alone
Please no more lists, send no more gi
fts

Photo: David Gahr / UMe

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