I’ve written about Bob Dylan and I have written about music’s impact on my life overall. Despite my love of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and tunes – no one has had the effect on me that Elton John has had. Elton’s voice, a mixture of British royalty and black man blues has provided a sense of comfort , a sense of safety since I can remember.
Sitting in the backseat of my family’s 66 Chevy Impala as I drove with my mom to pick up my father from work. In the 70’s it was as if Elton was on the radio all the time – but I remember specifically listening to “Daniel”on the radio and singing along with Elton to Bernie Taupin’s words.
“Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye”
That line always makes me sad. I sense a void where there once was – where there was once a closeness there is now a distance – he is flying away and saying goodbye – a wave can be a very sad expression. As sung by Elton it conveys as sense of finality, an end to something – be it love or innocence or life itself. The original lyrics mentioned something to do with Daniel leaving for Vietnam – but those lyrics have been lost.
“Your Song” with Bernie’s honest, naive and direct lyrics provided a sound of love that is both hopeful and resigned. That though our pockets are empty we carry within our hearts hope that love alone can be enough.
My first marriage, as I had dreamed of countless times, I danced with my bride to “Your Song.” I can still remember the happy looks on the faces who surrounded us – some still here some are gone – it still makes me smile. Like the song sometimes love can be naive and hopeful but not everlasting.
There is a section of the song “Burn down The Mission” from “Tumbleweed Connection” right after the chorus ends – the piano man takes over like a stampede. Ivory tickling the strings with a power reserved for the drums or full orchestras. I learned how to play that whole part of the song on tabletops and school desks better then anyone I know.
He was the “Pinball wizard” when my mom took me to see Tommy at the Standing tall over the Pinball machine and rocking the movie house better then anyone else on the screen.
He was the “Piano man, making a stand in the auditorium,” when my brother took me to. see him perform with Ray Cooper at the Palladium in NYC – my brother could have taken anyone – he chose me and Elton threw a rose out onto the audience and I caught it.
When people ask me about my favorite songs – its an impossible task. Songs such as “Indian Sunset” with the haunting lyrics and the tears falling from Elton’s voice and the music begging for some answer from a God that has closed his eyes and set along with the sun on his people.
There is “The Greatest Discovery” with the main character being a young child who was the center of the world until he “Glancing down upon this thing That make strange sounds, strange sounds that sing” The realization that the “thing” crying has changed his life forever as “a parent smile is made in moments – they have made for you a friend.” A friend that no matter the situation or circumstance – will remain within you forever.
In 1980 Elton came out with 21at33 (21 albums at 33 years old) I think I was one of the only people who listened over and over to it.
There were other songs recorded I never understood how they did not do well as singles or get airplay – “Nobody Wins”, “Soul Glove”, “Please”
As my first marriage ended – Elton’s resurgence began. Now sober he wrote about finding “The One” and “Simple Life (again).”
In 1998 I danced with my bride to “Something about the way You look Tonight” – no one could look as beautiful as her as she made her way down the aisle, the sun shining through a window behind her.
I could write on and on about my Elton John and Bernie Taupin connection. Its as if they are a part of my being – putting on my Ipod and listening to the songs they have written – from “Your Song” through the songs on their new CD with Leon Russel “The Union.”
As one of his song compilations was called – this story is “To be Continued.”
Since I wrote this Elton and Bernie have released two more collections of songs – The Diving Board and Wonderful Crazy Night. Two totally different sounds. The Diving Board had more a feel of an Elton album from the early to mid 70’s while the Wonderful Crazy Night had a feel of the mid to late 70’s.
He is still touring and still taking the lyrics from Bernie and making those words dance to his music.