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Elton shares his gifts of song, gab

The musician with 30 years of hits chats with David Frost in a two-hour special Sunday on A&E.

For his decades of TV and interview work, David Frost long ago was honored by the British Empire with the ceremonial title of sir. More recently, the same honor was bestowed upon singer and songwriter Elton John, for his decades of music and his generous charitable work.

Sunday's two-hour A&E conversation between the two British gents, then, is so titled, and so mutually respectful, it could almost be titled "Two Sirs, With Love."

The actual title of the special, which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m., is a lot clunkier: One-On-One With David Frost: Elton John: My Gift Is My Song. By any name, though, fans of Elton John will enjoy this extended, very laid-back discussion.

One-On-One contains three TV talks between Frost and his guest. There are extensive excerpts from a previous chat session in 1991, the year after the singer went into rehab and stopped doing drugs and alcohol, and a brief but touching TV conversation recorded the morning after the funeral of Princess Diana.

Mostly, though, this new A&E special presents new conversations _ one conducted partway through the performer's solo tour, the other at his country mansion. News footage provides an even later update, of an upbeat Elton John emerging from the hospital last month after getting a pacemaker installed for an irregular heartbeat.

Also, the very last comment in the special is a joke about the singer's one remaining addiction _ shopping _ an ironic comment, given his recent money troubles and loan requests. (For the record, he insists the money he seeks is to buy back the rights to his early song catalog.)

In addition, One-On-One provides vintage and new concert clips as well as brief but gleeful snippets of a young Elton John singing Crocodile Rock on The Muppet Show and, in animated form on The Simpsons, singing a modified Your Song at the wedding of the owner of Springfield's Quik-E-Mart.

("My gift is my song," he sings to the bride, "and this one's from Apu.")

Less frivolously, in the interviews, we hear all about how Elton John and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin modified another song, Candle in the Wind, for the Princess Di funeral. Much discussion, in fact, is devoted to the deaths of close friends.

Frost also gets his guest to talk about his all-time favorite concert (his career-making 1970 stint at the Troubadour in Los Angeles), his favorite place to perform (Madison Square Garden, "the greatest place to play in the world"), and such topics as rehab, AIDS charity work, his relationship with Princess Di and his 30-year string of Top 40 hits.

Neither the singer nor the interviewer, based on the quiet but forceful energy generated in this special, is in any danger of stopping just now.