Maren Morris On Elton John Crossing Genres As A Soulful Chameleon
Maren Morris, winner of Best Country Solo Performance at the 59th GRAMMY Awards for "My Church," sees Elton John from her perspective as a country artist with added gratitude for his personal support.
The GRAMMY Camp alum chose "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters," from John's 1972 Honky Château album, to perform on the April 10 TV concert special "Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Tribute."
This particular song perfectly illustrates how the legend impacted her own songwriting and career in music. "I thank the Lord for the people I have found" was Bernie Taupin's lyric at the center of the song's embrace of solitude and reflection, while surrounded by the urban hustle of New York. Morris' enthusiasm reflects a similar gratitude.
"Elton was one of the really early supporters of my career and my music," Morris said. "I was honored to be asked and just celebrate him because he's so influential on so many different genres of artists."
The first lines of "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" are a tip of the hat to soul singer Ben E. King's hit "Spanish Harlem," comparing a young lady to a beautiful rose. But Taupin's lyric takes a darker view of struggling to grow in the urban setting, asserting that "rose trees never grow in New York City." Although the song isn't one of John's many chart hits, it emerged through the years as a favorite, illustrating John and Taupin's ability to touch on deeper themes while penning a rousing ballad.
"He's a chameleon," said Morris. "He can really dip into any genre, easily, because he has that soul there. I think he's taught me if I keep that intact, you can do whatever you want over the decades with your music."
"Elton John: I'm Still Standing — A GRAMMY Salute" will feature performances by some of music's biggest names, including Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and SZA.
Tune in April 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT for this two-hour concert special, only on CBS.