Here’s where I admit that my Elton John deep dive become a lot more like dipping my toe in the pool once I got past 1974. John has released 22 albums since Caribou and only three of them are represented on my playlist.
Did I listen to all 22? No, I did not. Taking my cue from Rocketman, I stopped with ‘I’m Still Standing’ and the 1983 album Too Low For Zero on which it appears. If he found nothing in the 13 albums that followed worth putting on screen, who am I to argue?
Elton John followed 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road a year later with Caribou, a rushed effort that the album’s producer dismissed as a “piece of crap.”
This album contains the hits ‘The Bitch is Back’ and ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’ but little else that caught my attention. The latter song, though, is one of John’s very best so it’s hard to call this album a bust.
Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road landed seven songs on my personal playlist, including yesterday’s SOTD (‘Grey Seal’) and the expected hits: ‘Candle in the Wind,’ ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’ ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ and ‘Harmony.’
The final track to make the cut was entirely new to me. ‘Sweet Painted Lady’ is a whimsical tune about prostitutes who sleep with sailors on shore leave.
In 1973, Elton John released the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and capped off one of the most extraordinary runs in popular music history.
Six albums (one of them a double record) recorded and released over the course of four years, featuring some of the most beloved songs ever written. Twenty-seven of the 37 songs on my personal Elton John playlist come from those four years, his first four as a recording artist.
Jumping back into the lesser-known tracks on my personal Elton John playlist, my next song is another from 1973’s Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player.
‘High Flying Bird’ is the final track on the album and an appropriately sweeping ballad to close out the record. John says he was trying to evoke the music of Van Morrison with this song, which has become one of his favorites.
Keeping up his incredible pace in the early 70s, Elton John released his fifth album in four years with 1973’s Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player. This record, like Honky Chateau before it, went to #1 in the U.S.
Opening track ‘Daniel’ is the standout on this one, and it made my playlist alongside the playful, nostalgic ‘Crocodile Rock’ (shout out to the excellent use of that song in Rocketman). But two songs new to me also made the cut.
Elton John followed Madman Across the Water with Honky Chateau just a year later, in 1972. That’s four albums in three years containing some of the most enduring pop songs of all time. Wow.
The obvious keepers on Honky Chateau are ‘Honky Cat,’ ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.’ The latter two songs would be at or near the top if I were to rank the 37 songs I ended up with on my Elton John playlist.