“I knew it was about me,” she told The Post. “I had been into ballet as a little girl and sewed patches on Elton’s jackets and jeans” — both references in the song.
“I had goosebumps,” she recalled of that first listen, at London’s Trident Studios in 1971.
“Elton was on one side of me and Bernie was on the other. That song was like having your really good friends give you the best gift you could ever receive.”
”Bernie” is her ex-husband, Bernie Taupin, who has written most of John’s best lyrics.
On Monday, Maxine, who is 67 and resides in Los Angeles, is auctioning off handwritten lyrics to some of Taupin and John’s most iconic collaborations, including “Bennie and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind” and “Your Song.” The sale, held at Bonhams in LA, comprises six lyric sheets — some annotated by John — with estimates as high as $250,000 each.
Taupin and John have long shared an unusual collaborative relationship, with the singer only composing the music after he’d read the lyrics.
“I just go to the studio and there are lyrics waiting for me and I look through them and see which one I want to start with, and then I try and write a song,” John told Jimmy Kimmel in 2016. “I never, ever know what the lyrics are gonna be up-front.”
Maxine recalled being at Château d’Hérouville in northwestern France, in 1973, while Taupin and John were working on the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
“We all stayed in one building,” Maxine remembered. “Bernie would be up in our bedroom, writing lyrics. When finished, he would show them to me. Next morning, he’d walk downstairs to the dining room to see Elton for breakfast. There was a piano there and that is where Elton composed the music. Then Elton would give the lyrics back to Bernie and I would put them into folders for safe keeping. Over the years, I [started keeping] them in a temperature-controlled vault.”
Maxine even came up with one of the team’s most memorable song titles: “Elton had just come back from one of his tours. He was talking about how tired he was and about how difficult the long hours on stage had been . . . In the midst of all that, I rolled my eyes and said, ‘Oh, the bitch is back.’”
“We all started laughing and Bernie thought it would make a great song title.”
Released in 1974, “The Bitch is Back” became a top-10 chart-topper and garnered gold-record status.
The Taupins, who never had children, divorced in 1976. Maxine last saw John 10 years ago at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills where she congratulated him on his engagement to David Furnish.
She said that while Taupin received most of his lyrical booty in their split she still came out on top. “He had a lot of the originals. But I had the hits!”