One album I’d like to know better is 1983’s Too Low For Zero. It comes highly recommended by my brother-in-law and features the excellent hit singles ‘I’m Still Standing’ and ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’ in addition to today’s SOTD and the title track. Continue reading
This is the first real heavyweight battle of Round One of Montauk Madness: Elton John vs. Paul Simon. A couple of musical geniuses in their 70s who have written some of the most memorable songs of the last 50 years.
‘Your Song’ vs. ‘Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.’ ‘Levon’ vs. ‘Still Crazy After All These Years.’ ‘Tiny Dancer’ vs. ‘Graceland.’ (I should note here that this matchup includes only Paul Simon’s solo work… Simon & Garfunkel received their own spot in the tournament).
Elton John’s third album, Tumbleweed Connection, received some of the best reviews he’d ever get. The album isn’t chock full of hits, though ‘Burn Down the Mission’ became a concert staple through the decades.
This is a concept album about the West, leaning on the country and blues genres and schewing simple verse-chorus-verse structure for a more experimental songwriting style.
I’m still in awe of the gaudy stats amassed by Elton John’s revisiting of ‘Candle in the Wind’ in the wake of Princess Diana’s death. As I mentioned in this week’s post about Adele’s ‘Hello,’ ‘Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose)’ is the best-selling single of all-time.
Strictly speaking, it’s the best-selling single since the 1950s, when the singles charts began, but the Guinness Book of World Records gives the overall title to Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas,’ released in 1942.
The other day I made an unlikely comparison between Jimmy Buffett and Elton John. Both artists, I argued, have put out a dozen or more excellent songs — songs that endure after decades and are among the most moving ever committed to record — but both have also released so many albums over the years that the majority of their work is completely foreign to me.
Can it be that all of those unheard albums are filled with songs just as good as ‘Tiny Dancer,’ ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,’ ‘Come Monday, ‘Margaritaville’ and the rest of the classics? Or did these guys strike gold once or twice per album and I’m better off just knowing the hits?
Probably somewhere in between.
I had planned to finish out this week with a cut from Elton John’s newest album, The Diving Board, produced by T Bone Burnett and described as a return to John’s piano-bass-and-drums sound of the 70s.
But I can’t find a clip of ‘My Quicksand,’ the track John singles out in Rolling Stone, on YouTube. I did stumble upon a fan covering the track with his best Elton John impersonation, but it’s not quite the same.
One thing I’ve always liked about Elton John is his appreciation and championing of other artists. Whether it’s Rufus Wainwright or Eminem, John isn’t shy about proclaiming his love for the music of others.
In his Rolling Stone interview with Cameron Crowe, John says his 2001 album Songs From the West Coast was inspired by the alt-country sound of Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker.