I’m as good as Elton John

Source: Sonntags Zeitung

Writer: Thomas Wyss

Date: 11 May 2008

The folk – past master Gilbert O’Sullivan talks about his comeback and the seventies.

From a global star he fell into oblivion - and back:

The Irishman Gilbert O’Sullivan, 61, who’d counted to the greatest folk stars of the seventies for his No.1 hits "Alone Again (Naturally)",

"Clair" and "Get Down" experiences his revival at present.

His songs were placed into films like "Stuart Little 2", "Virgin Suicides" as well as the TV- series "Simpsons" and "Life On Mars".

And now he is on tour.

Soon he will give a guest performance in Zürich.

Mr. O’Sullivan, how do you feel as an "almost – forgotten", hopeless unfashionable singer/songwriter from the dark site of pop music?

You’d rather let me have it!

A British paper described you that way.

Yes, that’s right. Although the sentence wasn’t pretty much flattering, it was a pleasure for me to find myself back in the British press anyhow.

Sounds like furious irony.

Do you feel underestimated?

I’ve had the impression for some time, yes.

But what affected me the most was something different:

Whenever the music press discussed one of my albums in the past years then it always dealt with the strange title, my outfit or the cover’s layout. Never yet it dealt with my music.

But if there’s any review to the new CD’s of Paul Simon or Paul McCartney then it always deals with their music, even if the result ends up in criticism.

They never grudged that luxury to me. And that makes me sad. Occasionally furious, too.

Could it be possible that the focus on your outward appearance still refers to your outfit in the 70’s?

At that time you supposed to be fashion – nightmare No.1 wearing that oddy flat cap, the streaky tie, the grey flanell that looks like being held by brakes and the Charlie – Chaplin jacket.

Yes, that’s right .I did it consciously. Because of the Beatles all musicians had a moustache , long hair and jeans.

I wanted to be different, to be conspicuous  even if I was criticized  for my outfit. At least it worked.

With the result that you are no longer taken serious as a musician.

That result is much too simple. Everyone who is engaged to my current music style will see that I’m a much better songwriter than in the past.

My words and phrases are more concerning, the tunes are stronger.

Perhaps it sounds arrogant:

I know that I’m as good as Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney of Elton John.

My problem is that I don’t enact effective to the media. Party’s don’t mean much to me.

That‘s why I was given the image of an eccentric person and introverted dreamer and I’m neither this nor that.

If you are the better musician today than in the past, why are it still the same old hits  that help you to that new glory?

I think it has a lot to do with the upcoming nostalgic trend.

Just because of the melancholy phase is of immediate interest now, those pieces of music have become popular again.

According to your statement I take it that you are pretty much up to date about the current music business.

Of course I am.

I’m buying quite a lot of music, of any era.

Music is the most important source of inspiration to me, especially for the tune.

To compose a good tune is the most difficult task ever.

In which period do you currently find good tunes?

Above all, in the music of the 50’s.

So that means that you don know what to do with modern pop music?


Of course, I constantly discover modern pop music that offers a lot more than all that uninspired recycling that has dominated the past 15 of 20 years.

But to me there is generally missing the fundamental change, the effort of a revolution like we’ve had in the 60’s and early 70’s.

It was the most essential era ever. Everything was new, different, never existed before. Not only in the tunes but in every artistic school indeed. Are you nostalgic?

Maybe a bit, yes.

Even that relates to your former fashion?

By no means. But it was cool in the past, I know that!


In 1972 Gilbert O’Sullivan had sold more records that anyone else. In the mid – seventies the star of the Irish born singer/ songwriter who raised in England began to fall. His melancholy  folk – pop was no longer "in". With the upcoming 90’s he had a come back, just because of a No. 1 hit in Japan He is "re – discovered" at present again in Europe Jointly responsible for the golden career autumnal evening of the 61 y.o., are the interpreters like Donny Osmond and Morrissey who are going to cover his songs.