There’s a song on Delta Goodrem’s new album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams titled “Dear Elton”, an ode to the bespectacled courtier of pop culture Sir Elton John. It’s well-documented that the key to the music stateman’s success sat somewhere between the glitter-strewn platforms and flaming orange headdresses; his uncensored musical accounts of his life, and the loves, the loneliness, and the vices that numbed it all.
This same honest lyricism is something we have loved about Goodrem for years.
In “Dear Elton”, Goodrem recalls the time John reached out to her on the first day of chemotherapy, her first step in her battle with a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in 2003.
“Have I let you down, Rocket Man? /I haven’t been around, but here I am / You have given songs to everyone/ And now this song’s from me/ Piano Man, do you understand? /Here I am” – Delta Goodrem, “Dear Elton”
The lyrics are as warm and hypnotic as Goodrem’s earlier tracks. “I think the main theme is really about owning who you are. It’s owning your story,” Goodrem tells GRAZIA down the phone line in Sydney. “It’s about owning your triumphs and your failures. It’s owning all the parts of you that maybe you don’t even want to look at – but you have to. Stand in it and own your story.”
“With this one, I wanted to go back to basics and I shared that I had a real reset while going through my paralysis. It ended up being me just wanting to be back barefoot at the piano,” she continues. “I think this album is all about sharing stories I’ve never shared before.
“After being in the public eye my entire life I think it’s about digging up more layers and sharing more insight into the complexities of being a human.”
The musician has also released a book of the same title, a tactile offering she says complements the new album. “My book goes hand-in-hand with my music and is a real cohesive experience,” she says. “I really love the record as a whole more than I love the individual songs.”
And that’s the way she wants you to absorb it, as a whole journey. But if Goodrem had to pick one favourite track, it’s a tie between “Dear Elton” and “The Power” – “but the quirky side of me loves ‘Everyone’s Famous’” she quips.
Looking back at her last album, Goodrem says she’s now at a point in her career where she can really be more direct in her lyrics.
“The deeply loved Wings Of The Wild was such a formative record for me. When I listen to [its track] ‘Feline’, it says ‘So they say that you’re a hunter / Or you’re the prey / you can run away / or you can show them how to be brave’, and if I was to dive into them, I could tell you every straight forward thing that I was thinking about,” she says. “But the metaphor side of me allows me to not be as direct.
“I think on Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, I’m just a lot more willing to say it as it is.”
Goodrem will be touring nationally this September and October and the thought of being up on stage performing to people who can (hopefully) stand mask-less shoulder-to-shoulder – a first in the world – is a surreal thought for the artist.
“I think will cry! I definitely think I will get super emotional,” she says. “The idea that we’re all in one room? The idea of standing there on a stage… wow. This show was made to be performed live. It’s going to be a real celebration.” You can book tickets to Goodrem’s Bridge Over Troubled Dreams tour here .
Now, all we want to know is what Elton says on his reaction phone call.