Bob Dylan’s 2006 album “Modern Times” was a bellwether to Elton John, a template for the way rock musicians in their 60s and 70s might approach their careers.
John, 68, was speaking Tuesday to a small crowd of about 60 people at the Wiltern Theatre -- part of the satellite radio service’s “Town Hall” series of performances and conversations -- when he outlined the impact of Dylan’s album. He wasn't speaking in specific musical or thematic terms, but in the way Dylan made the record without regard to considerations of the pop marketplace.
As one of the most successful album artists of the 1970s, as measured by chart compiler Joel Whitburn based on Billboard’s national sales charts, John said Dylan’s album helped him come to accept the fact that “I’ve had my day. It’s time for other people” to dominate the charts now.
“I know I’m not going to get radio play,” he told the small crowd and Q&A moderator David Fricke from Rolling Stone. “So I’m just making music that satisfies me. If other people like it, that’s great. But if they don’t, it doesn’t matter because it makes me happy.”
A recording of the show is slated to premiere Feb. 4 on SiriusXM's The Spectrum channel, a day before the scheduled release of John’s 33rd studio album, “Wonderful Crazy Night.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member is set to be back at the Wiltern tonight for a sold-out show that promises to include about half a dozen songs from the new album, along with a survey of hits from a career that goes back to his 1969 debut album “Empty Sky.”
On Tuesday, John and his five-piece band played “Blue Wonderful” (a song he repeated so the sound crew could have a second take) as well as "Looking Up" and “A Good Heart” from “Wonderful Crazy Night.” The set also included two of his signature hits, “Tiny Dancer” and “Bennie and the Jets.”
Calendar will review tonight’s Wiltern show -- and look for a full profile of John and the new album closer to its release date.