Elton John Goes West With Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright

Latest album, featuring lyrics by Bernie Taupin, due in early October.

Vile, venomous rapper Eminem won't be featured on Elton John's upcoming Songs From the West Coast, despite the pair's unforgettable performance of "Stan" at the Grammys. But Stevie Wonder, Billy Preston and Rufus Wainwright all appear on the disc, due in early October.

Wonder plays Clavinet and harmonica on the biting "Dark Diamond," and Preston mans the B3 organ on "The Wasteland" and "Love Her Like Me."

As with many of John's past records, lyrics on Songs From the West Coast were penned by Bernie Taupin. The project is the pair's first complete collaboration since 1997's The Big Picture. The 12 tracks on West Coast were produced by Patrick Leonard and recorded in London and Los Angeles between September and April.

Lyrically, the record is dark and sobering, addressing romantic disillusion, the AIDS crisis and gay rights. "American Triangle," which features Wainwright on harmony vocals, is about the 1998 killing of gay student Matthew Shepard, and "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes" tells of a ballet dancer dying of AIDS.

Before joining up with Taupin for West Coast, John worked with Tim Rice on the Broadway shows "The Lion King" in 1994 and "Aida" in 1999. That year he also scored the film "The Muse," and in 2000 he hooked up with Rice again to work on the movie "The Road to El Dorado."

The track listing for Songs From the West Coast, according to John's publicist:

  • "The Emperor's New Clothes"

  • "Dark Diamond"

  • "Look Ma, No Hands"

  • "American Triangle"

  • "Original Sin"

  • "Birds"

  • "I Want Love"

  • "The Wasteland"

  • "Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes"

  • "Love Her Like Me"

  • "Mansfield"

  • "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore"