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Baker's Dozen

Trace The Bloodline: Jerry Cantrell Of Alice In Chains' Favourite Albums
Jean Marcel Maillard , June 28th, 2013 11:40

The grunge luminaries' main man picks out the records that put him where he is today


Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
I've been listening a lot to that record lately. My desire to be a musician started with my love with his band. My first exposure to him was probably Caribou, because my friends had it. My dad got me Elton John's Greatest Hits, then I think I discovered Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Madman Across the Water, Captain Fantastic... And later on, I started to dig back, that's when I really got into Tumbleweed Connection. It's got a real kind of Americana into it. I think, it’s my impression, that Elton has a kind of a love affair with America. Maybe some kind of country music elements in that, as well as pop and rock & roll. And it just has a southern feel to me. ‘Country Comfort’ and ‘Amoreena’ are two of my favourite songs in that record, they're just so fucking well done.

I'd met Elton a handful of times and he's always been a very knowledgeable guy, very interested in the band. He's asking you about certain tracks, and this and that like he's actually listening to our stuff, the kind of shit an assistant's not telling him before he walks in. I kind of learned this around the time he ended up recording for our song [‘Black Gives Way To Blue’]. He's a big fan of Alice In Chains. He keeps up on what comes out in all sorts of music as a fan himself, very fucking knowledgeable. You know, to ask a guy who's your number one musical inspiration to play in one of your songs... that means the world to you. We never expected him to say yes, but you don't know unless you ask. So I wrote him a little e-mail, explaining the significance of that song, especially through what we were moving out of, that we wanted to honour Layne, that we wrote that song as a making peace and saying "goodbye my best friend", and moving on with the band, to live a new chapter of the same book. That itself was huge, and then for Elton to listen to that song, and get that, like: "I wanna be a part of that, I think it's a beautiful song. The emotion is very genuine, and I want to play piano on it." Pretty mind-bungling stuff. One of the coolest things that has ever happened to me and to the band.