Tuesday, 12th November 2019
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DEF LEPPARD's JOE ELLIOTT On Why He Wrote Goodnight Mr. Jones DAVID BOWIE Tribute

Def Leppard 2019. Down 'n' Outz 2019

Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott was recently interviewed on US radio and talked about writing the Down 'n' Outz David Bowie tribute song Goodnight Mr. Jones.

Joe spoke to The Riff with Jack Trash on Pure Rock Radio to promote the new Down 'n' Outz This Is How We Roll album.

Joe talked about working on the This Is How We Roll album, 70s Style Of The New Songs, This Is How We Roll Song, This Is How We Roll Song Title/Meaning and writing the Goodnight Mr. Jones Song.

Joe talked in detail about how he wrote the David Bowie tribute song 'Goodnight Mr. Jones' as well as the title track.

Listen to the full 14 minute interview below.

Joe's parts start at 26:37 mins, 1hr10 mins, 1hr39 mins and lasts until 1hr43 mins.

The full podcast lasts for 2 hours.

Joe's daughter can once again be heard in the background in certain parts.

Def Leppard 2019. Screenshot

The Riff with Jack Trash - Joe Elliott Interview Quotes - (Transcribed by dltourhistory)

This Is How We Roll Album

"I wouldn't call it pressure, I'd say there was a need and a want. You know because we were really excited about the songs. I'd written these songs over a period of time. And I knew that the kind of project that it was, that I wasn't gonna be able to do it all in one go because, like you say, with everybody's motherships being so busy I'd have to grab them here, there and everywhere."

"So we kind og had to approach the album the same way that I've read the Rolling Stones did pretty much on Exile On Main Street. I think they started it off in he basement of a Chateau that Keith was renting in France. And then they kind of moved around from there to London to LA to New York. And two or three of the band might do a session here and there. And Charlie probably only ever set foot in one of the studios. You know how it goes. But it's been highly regarded as the best album that they ever made. You know or the most iconic Stones album."

"So I was never worried about the fact that we were having to do this in bits. But it's just what we had to do because you know everybody's so busy. And I'd get them for two or three days and I'd get the guitar players Paul and Griff and they would bang out like two days worth of guitars. I just said play, just play ten takes of everything and we'll worry about it later on. So that they'd get really into it and just play it over and over again. OK we've got that one covered move on to the next song. And that's pretty much how we did it all."

"You know there was a couple of sessions where I had both guitarists and the keyboard player Keith in my studio in Dublin. At the same time and we got a lot of real cool stuff down because we could eyeball each other. But I had to do the drums in London. The bass was done in Florida. Everything else was done in my studio."

"So there was a coherent kind of thread to it eventually, but I just had to do it in stops and starts because I'd go on tour for a year and then they'd go on tour for six months and they'd overlap. It was a challenge but I was so happy with the songs I didn't really mind. In fact living with them half finished for a couple of months here and there. Sometimes you'd have this epiphany and go wait a minute that's not quite right and you'd change it."

"A lot of artists would have the same feeling but it's already in the shops by the time they have that feeling. So I had that luxury of it still being mothballed and then I'd get it out whenever I could and work on it."

"We were literally finishing the last mixes of this just the week after we were inducted into the Hall Of Fame. I was back home in Dublin literally finishing the last mix of the last couple of songs. You know it's been one of those weird projects that started...I had half of these songs written before the second Down 'n' Outz album came out which is five years ago. But you know I wasn't really sure what to do with them and then it just became obvious that this would be the third album. And it'll be ready when it's ready you know."

This Is How We Roll Song Title/Meaning

"Well it's one of only two songs that I wrote on the guitar. As you can probably tell if you listen to the album. I think that the cover we do of White Punks On Dope by The Tubes is pretty guitar based. But the only other song is a song called Boys Don't Cry. Which I kind of wrote right towards the end because I thought that the album was a little unbalanced when it came to like full on rocking out."

"But with This Is How We Roll I just picked up the guitar one day and just threw my fingers on it and came up with that kind of main riff which we kind of. There's three different interpretations of the way that that riff gets played with in the song so it doesn't get boring all the time and sound the same."

"So it's just like one of those songs that you just, when you start piecing it together, when you start piecing it together you end up with. This thing just rolls along you know. And then one day while we were actually watching a video of the first gig we ever played. We filmed it just for fun more than anything else, but we eventually put it out on DVD."

"Guy Griffin the guitar player came up to me. He'd had a few, you know, a couple of whiskeys and he just kind of nudged me and he went. He was pointing at the screen and he said This Is How We Roll. And I just thought. I just made a mental note going that's a great title."

"And then when I came to...I've always been the kind of guy, you know, music comes first and then the lyrics come second. When I was just kind of listening through to this and thinking OK where am I gonna go with this?. It just popped into my head that that would be a great title. And it fit the format of the chorus and then I thought well OK what's it's gonna be about?."

"And I thought this is gonna be about how the band got together. You know This Is How We Roll and it was. You know hence the opening line "thrown together like rats in a cage"."

"And that's kind of what the song's all about. When you get your chance, take it and go with it. And you know it was a thrown together situation that was either gonna sink or swim and luckily it swam."

Def Leppard 1999. Joe w/ David Bowie 1999

Goodnight Mr. Jones Song

"Yeah it's had that effect on a few people and I'm glad to say it's not because they think that it's awful. You know Bowie had a huge influence on me as a kid. You know between him and Marc Bolan and Mott The Hoople. To me that was the Holy Trinity. A lot of fans of that kind of music often refer the Holy Trinity to be Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop."

"For me growing up in the UK it was Mott The Hoople, T. Rex and David Bowie. And you know from an age of about 11 or 12 I was listening to Bowie and when I first discovered him on Ziggy Stardust it was only then when you realise as you read through the then weekly papers. We didn't have the Internet that's instantly available at ya 23 hours a day. You had to wait until every Thursday for the NME or Melody Maker to come out."

"You'd start to find out that there was four albums that came out before Ziggy Stardust. There was Hunky Dory, there was The Man Who Sold The World, there was Space Oddity you know. Plus all his sixties stuff. All of a sudden if you could afford it, you could have an instant record collection of this guy that you've only just discovered. It wasn't his first record."

"That's how it was back then you know. So he's been part of my life since I was 12 years old. It's two thirds of my life. And so when he died in 2016 for me it was the same kind of feeling as it was for the older generation when Elvis died. You know it had a profound effect on me really 'cause it was the closing of a door that will never open again you know."

"So I just thought, you know, I just owed it to myself and just to...you know I can't say I owed to it to David because I didn't know him that well. But I owed it to myself to mark the fact that he did mean that much. So I had the music on the go and it did have a kind of a Life On Mars type vibe about it. You know very grandiesque. A four minute epic if you like."

"And then I just sat down and started working on the lyrics. And you know name dropping one or two titles or lines out of his songs just to thread it together. And then once I got that chorus, you know. Goodnight Mr. Jones the starts have your spirit, the Earth has your flesh and your bones. I got that shiver like whooah, you know."

"You don't take credit for something like that. You just capture it. You know it's like you put your hand up and grab lightning. it's not you being smart of clever. It's just like you picked a line...you just picked a moment in time and the words just came to you. You know you're just borrowing them out of the Universe really. And it just felt really good that I was that confident when I listened to it the next day when I put it down. I thought hmm, yes!. 'Cause sometimes you put a song together and you listen to it the next day and you go Oh that's not as good as I thought it was."

"It actually right was up there still where I wanted it to be. You know so it meant a lot to be to be able to get that song out my system because the subject matter was so important to me."

Down 'n' Outz - This Is How We Roll - CD

  • 01 - Another Man’s War - 4:17
  • 02 - This Is How We Roll - 3:06
  • 03 - Goodnight Mr. Jones - 5:08
  • 04 - Creatures - 4:37
  • 05 - Last Man Standing - 4:29
  • 06 - Music Box - 1:07
  • 07 - Boys Don’t Cry - 3:55
  • 08 - Walking to Babylon - 5:42
  • 09 - Let It Shine - 6:03
  • 10 - Music Box Reprise/Griff’s Lament - 0:46
  • 11 - White Punks on Dope (The Tubes cover) - 6:22
  • 12 - The Destruction of Hideous Objects Part 3 - 1:00
  • 13 - Goodnight Mr. Jones (Stripped Down Version) - 5:10 - (Japanese Bonus Track)
  • Total Time - 46 Minutes

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